Shock of the Old Christopher Dresser's Design Revolution
Edited by: Michael Whiteway
Publisher/Date: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/Victoria and Albert Museum. (c. 2004) Published in conjunction with the first comprehensive museum retrospective of Christopher Dresser.
Format/Condition: New hardcover book with dust jacket in Fine condition. 240 pages, index. Dimensions: 9 x 11 x 1 inches. Profusely illustrated in color.
Description: Published in conjunction with Christopher Dresser's first comprehensive museum retrospective, organized by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, then traveling to the Victoria and Albert Museum, this extensively illustrated survey affirms his achievement as the first professional industrial designer - in effect, the inventor of the modern-day career of product designer.
Dresser (1837-1904) trained both as a designer and a botanist, deriving his design vocabulary initially from observations of nature. As the first European designer to visit Japan in an official capacity, he made comprehensive study of Japanese art during his four-month visit. The experience confirmed his belief in the supremacy of form over ornament and resulted in designs that were truly radical in relation to contemporary Victorian taste. Dresser was also a pioneer in his vision of industry as a means to spread the tenets of good design, working with over fifty manufacturers in a wide variety of media to produce an astonishing range of reasonably priced, widely available consumer goods.
Seven essays from leading specialists in the field explore the impact of Christopher Dresser's theories and work in the context of his contemporaries such as Pugin, Owen Jones, and Godwin. His achievement is seen in relation to the late industrial revolution and the development of modern design.
The 300 illustrations illuminate the vast scope of his output, from Gothic-Revival cast-iron Coalbrookdale hall stands and the stark, geometric forms of James Dixon & Sons silver plate to the experimental and highly innovative shapes and glazes of Linthorpe ceramics. The catalogue also features previously unattributed designs for textiles, wallpaper and glass, and expands the sum of Dresser scholarship into new and illuminating areas.