06 August 2012

On William Morris

William Morris famously said: "Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  Morris, the English artist and writer, is widely considered to be the father of the Arts and Crafts movement, which began in England in the second half of the nineteenth century. Reacting against the shoddy machine-made goods produced in the industrial revolution, proponents of this influential movement championed the quality of design and craftsmanship that comes with hand crafted goods. We believe very strongly in Morris' sentiment-- it seems that although we apparently have more choice than ever in the types of objects available to us, (more often than not, these "choices" are defined by what's easiest and cheapest to manufacture...) we find our homes cluttered with homogenous, disposable, mass produced things.

We seldom have connections with the people who produce the things we use every day, and, as a result, we disregard many of the things that we live with most closely and use most often. Cicero reminds us, "Things grow familiar to men's minds by being so often seen; so that they neither admire nor are inquisitive into the things they daily see." Perhaps if they were made by artisans and were carefully constructed of fine
materials, we'd not only enjoy the experience of using them more, but we'd be more awake to the aesthetic experiences that can come along with beautiful, useful objects.

It seems to us, that where there is a direct, meaningful connection between the public and artists/craftspeople, there is also an opportunity for a richer, more colorful everyday experience for both the artists like us who enjoy making useful things, and the person who uses those things. Perhaps William Morris and the arts & crafts proponents more than a century ago had the right idea. Today, however ironically, technology makes it not only possible but simple for the public to connect with artists and craftspeople. We hope that when you have the opportunity, you'll consider bringing handmade things into your home.

For more information on our work at Parvum Opus, we invite you to email us at: info@parvumopus.com or visit our bindery's website, www.parvumopus.com


  1. I am a great admirer of William Morris, and concur with his philiosphy that everything in the house should be both beautiful and useful. So often, too, things well made last longer, thereby saving money in the long run!

    1. Mark, thank you for your comment. I think, as you do, that Morris' philosophy is more relevant today than ever. Being savagely curatorial in choosing objects that come into one's home may at first seem to be an esoteric affectation. But upon closer examination, carefully chosen things do seem to have an exponentially longer and more useful life than the "cute" but disposable mass-produced goods available today. When I go to my favorite antiques shop, I consider it an act of both frugality and, in its way, recycling!