Thursday, 16 June 2011

Dr Christopher Dresser - Designs

A simple posting today and more on one of my all time favourite industrial designers - Dr Christopher Dresser.

Nothing contentious, no attribution problems, just good original designs. These designs were originally published in his book Principles of Decorative Design (1873) and later reproduced in the encyclopaedia "The Technical Educator" published by Cassells c1887. Sadly I only have volume 1 from which these illustrations are taken.

The articles are titled Principles of Design by Dr Christopher Dresser Phd, FLS etc - Introduction -Value of Art Knowledge - Meaning conveyed by Ancient Ornamentation, Egyptian Ornament - Early Christian Symbolism, Truth, Beauty, and the Power of Ornamentation, Employment of the Grotesque in Ornament, Colour in Design - General Considerations - Contrast - Harmony - Qualities of Colours - Teachings of Experience - Analytical Tables of Colour, Harmonies and Contrasts of Colour, Some General Art Principals and finally Art Furniture.

Dresser used this design as an example of power. He wrote "I have sought to embody chiefly the one idea of power, energy, force or vigour, as a dominant idea; and in order to do this, I have employed such lines as we see in the bursting buds of spring, when the energy of growth is at it's maximum."

These wonderful creatures were used to illustrate the "Employment of the Grotesque in Ornament" . You may notice a familiar motif in figure 13, which I have used for over 10 years as my logo - see about me. 

Dresser - "A chair, I have said is a stool with a back" thanks Chris, very helpful !! "There is not one chair out of fifty that we find with the back so attached to the seat as to give a maximum of strength" "Our illustrations (figs. 20-25)will give several modes of constructing chairs such as I think legitimate." I think there maybe too much form over function with these. Very strong but devilishly uncomfortable looking chairs.

Fig 20 - Dresser design .
Fig 21 - Variation on a design by Mr Eastlake.
Fig 22 - Dresser design for an armchair in a Greek style.
Fig 23 - in the manner of an Egyptian chair.
Fig 24 - Dresser design for a high backed lounging chair.
Fig 25 - A lady's chair in early Greek.

Fig 27 - a chair shown by Messers Gillow & Co in the Paris Exhibition of 1867. In many respects it is admirably constructed (he liked that one)
Fig 28 - a Gothic chair by Mr Talbert.
Fig 32 - an improved Eastlake table (presumably improved by Dresser !)
Fig 33 - End elevation of a sideboard by Mr Talbert.

I assume that Dresser's Mr Talbert is the designer Bruce James Talbert (1838-1881) and his Mr Eastlake is Charles Locke Eastlake (1836–1906).

See my earlier post - Christopher Dresser - Intro

There are many beautifully illustrated books on the subject - here are just a few.

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