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Initially my research question sought to address aspects of the Arts and Crafts philosophy in modern-day design. I’ve always been fascinated by the beliefs of William Morris: the importance of joy in labor, individuality in artistic creation, and the idea that good design promotes a good atmosphere. Therefore, I was interested in seeing how such ideas are (or are not) still applicable in London today.

After spending several days exploring London and visiting with working graphic designers, I realized that what had the most profound effect on me was the abundance of bright, unexpected color. From the cartoon-like colors of the Tube to the wild, circus-like schemes of Morag Myerscough, I witnessed more use of color than what I’m accustomed to in the States. I believe that modern-day London’s use of color to enhance the environment is comparable to the Arts and Crafts philosophy on environmental aesthetics.

William Morris once wrote, “The lack of beauty in modern life is an evil to be remedied.� This is still true. In my daily life I am bombarded with ugliness; concrete buildings, uninspiring storefronts and manufactured goods with little personality surround me. The need to remedy this lack of beauty in life is something I can relate to. In Shoreditch, I witnessed an attempt to revitalize and personalize the industrial environment with street art that splashed brilliantly across every surface.

Other aspects of the Arts and Crafts philosophy that I recognized were less conspicuous. At a lecture on designing for web and mobile applications, a debate was launched. The argument was on skeumorphism, the phenomenon of designing one object to resemble another material. Within Arts and Crafts philosophy, it is important to honor the material you are working with in order to create honest design. When Apple digitally creates leather stitching to embellish their calendars, or animates pages flipping to resemble a physical book, they counter the Arts and Crafts philosophy.

The design and theory of William Morris and his colleagues inspire me most of all to enjoy my craft and inject personal elements into my work. Therefore, much of my time in London was spent collecting visual research of typography, textures and patterns. Throughout this book I have woven my visual collection, in an attempt to represent my own perspective on London and the Arts and Crafts philosophy in modern-day design.

Erin Gwozdz The Art Institute of Boston Spring 2013

London Retrospective  
London Retrospective  

Musings on my study abroad London experience.