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Book Review: C. F. A. Voysey: Architect, Designer, Individualist

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Mar 26, 2012 01:04 AM
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by Eric last modified Mar 25, 2012

Who do you think of when I describe the following architect: He rejected the staid values of the Victorian era; utilized huge pitched roofs, horizontal bands of windows and natural materials in his architecture; was consumed with designing every aspect of his houses including textiles, cabinetry, and furniture; was a master designer who created stunning works of pattern, color and form; loved nature and went to it constantly for inspiration; and above all was a...




 

 

CFA VoyseyWho do you think of when I describe the following architect: He rejected the staid values of the Victorian era; utilized huge pitched roofs, horizontal bands of windows and natural materials in his architecture; was consumed with designing every aspect of his houses including textiles, cabinetry, and furniture; was a master designer who created stunning works of pattern, color and form; loved nature and went to it constantly for inspiration; and above all was a fierce individualist who stubbornly followed his own path. Likely, as a reader of this blog, your first instinct might be to say "Frank Lloyd Wright." But, in this instance, I was actually describing a British architect working out his individualistic theories of architecture and design years ahead of Wright: C.F.A. Voysey.

Surprised? I was too. But thanks to the recently published book C.F.A. Voysey: Architect, Designer, Individualist by Anne Stewart O'Donnell and published by Pomegranate, I was able to explore the world of this fascinating and early Modernist. More after the jump...

I was only passingly familiar with C.F.A. Voysey and primarily considered him into the early A&C crowd. However, upon reading O'Donnell's book, I was really surprised to learn about the forward-thinking aspects of his ideas, life and work that helped plant the seeds for later Modernism.

As I described earlier, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey (1857-1941) shared many similar ideas with Wright— America's greatest pioneer of Modern Design—but was exercising them an ocean away and many years before, during what we now call the English Arts & Crafts Movement. Interested in art as a useful and beautiful way of life, both Voysey's architectural and design work embodied these ideas, influenced by William Morris--another icon of the English A&C Movement. While Morris's work was often flavored with Gothic and Medieval revivalism, Voysey expanded beyond the past and created an altogether original interpretation of his "total artwork" philosophies--both in architecture and industrial design.

The book, beautifully designed and illustrated with large, colorful images of Voysey's striking designs is a visual feast. I especially loved seeing many of his wallpaper designs, which incorporated conventionalized flora and fauna in boldly conceived patterns. Here's a peek at some of what awaits readers of this book:

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I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the roots of Modernism, the Arts & Crafts Movement, and anyone who is enamored of beautiful design. There are many more intriguing things to learn about this early master of architecture and design, so get your copy here to enjoy more.

Images via Pomegranate



 

 

 
 
 

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