Exhibition Design - Making Home: The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Reform of Everyday Life
This advanced interior design studio will develop exhibit concepts in collaboration with the Harry Ransom Center (HRC). Located on The University of Texas at Austin campus, the HRC is an archive, library, and museum focusing on the arts and humanities. It houses an extensive collection of literary and cultural artifacts, including manuscripts, rare books, photographs, films, and art. The HRC's changing exhibition gallery hosts several shows a year for scholars and the general public alike. In February 2019, it will feature a seminal exhibit on the Arts & Crafts Movement in Great Britain and the United States.
Making Home: The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Reform of Everyday Life will open on the 200th birthday of John Ruskin, the movement's inspirational founder. The idea of Arts and Crafts originated in the UK along with Ruskin, William Morris, and others and centered on the values of design simplicity, the honesty of materials, and social reform through handicraft. With time, it found its way to the US and was interpreted by notable figures including Gustav Stickley, Greene and Greene, and Frank Lloyd Wright. What began as an ideology eventually became reduced to a design style that was mass produced and ultimately transformed the homes of many middle-class Americans.
An exhibition and corresponding catalog of written essays will communicate the emergence and ultimate translation of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The studio is responsible for developing the spatial narrative and design of the exhibit. To accomplish this task, it will work with architectural historians and curators Christopher Long and Monica Penick, HRC research and exhibition staff, and other specialists. The majority of the nearly 200 items to be displayed are from the HRC's archival collection. Along with additional loaned items, the objects include printed books and promotional materials, photographic prints and drawings, and design objects. Students will address these artifacts by exploring theories and strategies for exhibition planning and design, display and lighting methods, environmental graphics and color, and augmented reality and enhanced user experience.
A key component of the exhibition's design will be not only to convey how and why the Arts and Crafts movement arose and spread but also to position it in a way that it resonates with a contemporary audience of all ages. Issues of craft and consumerism are as current and relevant today as they were over a century ago. It will be the designer's role to determine the appropriate framework for visitors to explore these concepts as they relate to production methods, intellectual property, media proliferation, and the social agency and democracy of design.