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The Power of Surroundings: How Augustus Pugin and Gustav Stickley Inspired Movements in Design

Augustus Pugin and Gustav Stickley were both influential designers and thinkers who believed that the objects that surrounded us had the power to shape our experiences and our sense of self. For Pugin, a 19th-century English designer and writer, the decorative arts were a way to express and uplift the human spirit, and he believed that good design had the power to improve people's lives and morals. His proliferation in architecture is known as the Gothic Revival, and he sought to return people's minds and hearts to morality and away from the greed of the industrial revolution.


Stickley, an American furniture maker and designer, shared this belief but more closely related to people being able to own their own work, to have nice, well made things, and his simple, functional, and unadorned furniture was created with the goal of bringing beauty and meaning into everyday life. His movement was called the Arts and Crafts movement.


Both Pugin and Stickley were able to inspire movements in design based on their philosophies, and their ideas continue to influence designers and makers to this day. However, in contrast to the mindfulness and purpose that these designers brought to their work, many of us today are surrounded by a sea of wasteful, disposable objects that only serve to turn us towards consumerism.


These objects, often cheaply made and designed to be replaced rather than repaired, fill our homes and our lives, but they offer little in the way of lasting value or meaning. They distract us from what is truly important and drain our resources, both material and emotional.


It's time to reclaim the ideas of designers like Pugin and Stickley and to recognize the power of the objects that surround us. By choosing to surround ourselves with well-made, purposeful items that are built to last, we can create a better, more meaningful world for ourselves and for future generations.

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