The Arts and Crafts movement emerged during the late Victorian period in England, the most industrialized country in the world at that time. Anxieties about industrial life fueled a positive revaluation of handcraftsmanship and pre-capitalist forms of culture and society. Arts and Crafts designers sought to improve standards of decorative design, believed to have been debased by mechanization, and to create environments in which beautiful and fine workmanship governed. The Arts and Crafts movement did not promote a particular style, but it did advocate reform as part of its philosophy and instigated a critique of industrial labor.
American designer Gustav Stickley, founder of The United Crafts (later known as the Craftsman Workshops) was an advocate of the craftsman ideal. Stickley believed that mass-produced furniture was poorly constructed and overly complicated in design and set out to improve American taste through “craftsman” or “mission” furniture with designs governed by honest construction, simple lines, and quality material. Over the years, the words, “Arts and Crafts” became a synonym for clean line, handcrafted design and have come to embody that style group.