From top left: “Shots from “Case Study House #8; Eames House”, 1949 by Charles and Ray Eames from Eames: Beautiful Details, 2012 by Eames Demetrios and Charles Eames, edited by Gloria Flower and Steve Crist (pages 374–375); The Willie Top and Celia Florence Skirt from Alabama Chanin; “Embroidery Design”, 1885 by May Morris via the Victoria and Albert Museum; The Waffle Caftan from Alabama Chanin; “Wall Hanging”, 1924 by Gunta Stolzl via The Museum of Modern Art; Black and Black Gilded Stripe Fabric Swatch of Virginia Top from Alabama Chanin
We have spoken before about how both the Arts and Crafts and Bauhaus movements have influenced Natalie’s design philosophies and style choices at Alabama Chanin. From William Morris’ focus on reconnecting the artist with his or her work to the Bauhaus ideas of combining that connection with modern manufacturing. The Arts and Crafts movement was a direct inspiration for the Bauhaus school – and we took elements from both in the creation of the Florence Collection.
The founders of the Arts and Crafts movement believed that the Industrial Revolution had de-personalized the act of making and removed the human component from design. Simple form and natural materials were key, as was the connection between maker and product. The end result was of the highest possible quality.
Those ideals directly impacted the Bauhaus movement, which maintained the same commitment to quality and maker skill but embraced the idea that manufacturing could democratize great design and make products more affordable. Design and function can work hand-in-hand to create beautiful products that can be practically used. The two movements shared many of the same goals – the mixing of artisans with craftsmen so individuals could learn from one another, and the idea that a well-made product can improve a person’s life. Both theories insisted that the maker and the user had inherent needs that could be filled through use of beautiful materials and a practical form and finish.
From top left: Lucy Meadow Top from Alabama Chanin; “Untitled”, 1931 by Josef Albers; “‘La Chaise’, 1948 via the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation; We start gradually, as in a love affair. We only begin to ignite when every living moment is dedicated to the search.” from Eames: Beautiful Details, 2012 by Eames Demetrios and Charles Eames, edited by Gloria Flower and Steve Crist (pages 374–375); “Plate 110, Wall hanging, Jacquard weaving” 1925; Right: “Plate 111, Wall hanging, three-ply weave”, 1926 by Anni Albers from Anni Albers On Weaving New Expanded Edition, 2017 by Anni Albers with an afterword by Nicholas Fox Weber and contributors Manuel Cirauqui and T`ai Smith; The Peacoat and Leighton Skirt from Alabama Chanin; “Tulip and Willow”, 1873 by William Morris.
You can see the direct influence of these ideas on Alabama Chanin – from our desire to promote and sustain traditional maker skills, to our numerous collaborations with artisans in other media, to our focus on handwork, and ultimately the combination of handwork with manufacturing.
With The Florence Collection, we have built upon our Bauhaus roots of balanced forms and usefulness combined with beauty and added some of the more decorative elements that would be found in the Arts and Crafts movement. The floral motifs can be seen as a nod to Morris and his more ornamental and Renaissance-inspired background.