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The Crystal Palace, English train stations and marketplaces from Paris to Milan provided an alternative to this battle of styles, but the main stream in architecture, as well as in almost everything else, was through mass production.
It was against this backdrop of tired revivalism and crass commercialism that William Morris and his contemporaries developed a new and refreshing perspective on architecture, furniture, pottery and the visual objects of daily life.
The Red House as it is called, was the first building of the Arts and Crafts style.
By the time the Arts and Crafts movement had reached Ontario, the defining elements were well set.
The roots of the movement can be found in the writings of John Ruskin, the major critic of the century, whose violent reaction to mass produced decoration and artifacts found in the Great Exhibition in London 1851 can be read in The Stones of Venice and The Seven Lamps of Architecture.
The lack of ostentation, the deliberate rejection of modern methods and materials, and the fact that Arts and Crafts objects, be they houses or teapots, illustrate the taste of the owner not the size of his pocket book, all contributed to make the style unattractive to those with social pretensions.Philip Webb The Red House 1859 The Red House in Bexley Heath, England is the first example of Arts and Crafts architecture.It was built by Philip Webb for the newly married William Morris, and it is the only house that Morris ever had built.He believed that if a craftsman made good and heartfelt designs based on a study of nature, and then connected with other people who were making similar quality objects, then the character of the craftsman was improved and society as a whole would then also be improved.In 1860 Morris commissioned a similar minded architect, Philip Webb, to design a house for him and his new wife.