Revolutionizing Design: Progressive Home Decorating at the Turn of the Century

William Morris (1834–1896), Cray furnishing fabric, designed 1884, manufactured 1884–1917, cotton plain weave, block printed. Purchase: Gift of Kate Fowler Merle-Smith by Exchange and the Reverend and Mrs. Van S. Merle-Smith Jr. Endowment Fund, 1990
Wed, 05/31/2017 - Sun, 02/04/2018
Payne Hurd Gallery

In the late nineteenth century, artists and designers demanded a radical break with the mass-produced, “more is more” aesthetic of the Victorian era. Revolutionizing Design unites textiles and furnishings by these European and American design reformers who laid the foundation for modern design.

The varied design movements at the turn of the century—including the Aesthetic movement, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Art Nouveau—shared a common interest in elevating interior decorating to the status of fine art. Designers argued that beautiful living spaces and affordable, attractive furnishings could improve society. Their novel ideals, including simplicity and socially conscious design, continue to resonate with designers today.

Two rotations of textiles will be exhibited in this show, the first group from May 31 till September 24, 2017, and the second from October 4, 2017, through February 4, 2018.

Left: Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867–1956), Armchair, 1903, mahogany inlaid with mahogany and African blackwood. Purchase: The Leigh Schadt and Edwin Schadt Art Museum Trust Fund, 2002
Right: Josef Hoffman (1870–1956), Hahnen (Roosters), ca. 1904–1910, cotton double weave. Purchase: Gift of Kate Fowler Merle-Smith by Exchange, 1989
Revolutionizing Design is supported through the generosity of the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Century Fund, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the Rider-Pool Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Museum.