Cambridge Library Collection - Art and Architecture

Cambridge Library Collection - Art and Architecture - Christopher Dresser

Cambridge Library Collection - Art and Architecture

Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) was arguably the first British industrial designer, and this 1862 work was his most influential book. He worked in a variety of media, from wallpaper and textile design to metalwork and ceramics, but was also a botanist, and his two professorial roles in fine and ornamental arts, at the South Kensington Museum and the Crystal Palace, included the teaching of botany. Unlike William Morris, Dresser believed that good design could and should be mass-produced by industrial methods, so that it became affordable to all classes. He describes here how decorative ornament should be used in design, the importance of taking inspiration from natural (usually plant) models, and issues of proportion, balance and gradation. The book, which encouraged the rising middle classes to decorate their homes themselves, is highly illustrated: the colour plates can be viewed online at by clicking on the 'Resources' button.
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Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) was arguably the first British industrial designer, and this 1862 work was his most influential book. He worked in a variety of media, from wallpaper and textile design to metalwork and ceramics, but was also a botanist, and his two professorial roles in fine and ornamental arts, at the South Kensington Museum and the Crystal Palace, included the teaching of botany. Unlike William Morris, Dresser believed that good design could and should be mass-produced by industrial methods, so that it became affordable to all classes. He describes here how decorative ornament should be used in design, the importance of taking inspiration from natural (usually plant) models, and issues of proportion, balance and gradation. The book, which encouraged the rising middle classes to decorate their homes themselves, is highly illustrated: the colour plates can be viewed online at by clicking on the 'Resources' button.
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