Design Legend: Arthur Mackmurdo

Mackmurdo was an English architect and social reformer. He was an important figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement. He trained as an architect first with T. Chatfield Clarke and then with the Gothic Revivalist James Brooks. He was greatly influenced by John Ruskin, particularly on social and economic issues. Mackmurdo believed that his work should be socially as well as artistically significant. In design he valued tradition but sought a contemporary relevance, and he promoted the unity of the arts, with architecture as the central discipline.

By 1884, he had moved away from the Gothic Revival style and adopted an eclectic use of Renaissance sources. Some of his designs have been described as proto-Art Nouveau and are thought to have influenced the emergence of this style in architecture and the applied arts in Britain and Europe in the 1890s and 1900s.

“Beauty of form is produced by lines going out one from another in gradual undulations.” – Mackmurdo

Thistle Chair

Mackmurdo was one of the founders of the Century Guild of Artists which aimed to produce decorative work in every branch of interior design and “to render all branches of art the sphere no longer of the tradesman but of the artist.” His associates in this venture were Selwyn Image, Herbert Home, William De Morgan, Heywood Sumner, Benjamin Creswick, Clement Heaton, George Esling and Kellock Brown, who between them managed to cover an impressive array of different craft skills.

 Furniture Characteristics

  •      Arts and Crafts furnishings with Art Nouveau characteristic.
  •      Art Nouveau Panels.
  •      Architectural look.

You can see much more of Mackmurdo’s work and read more about him history on The Victorian Web. Past Design Legend posts include:
Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe

Alvar Aalto
The Shakers

Michael Thonet

Hans Wegner

Frank Lloyd Wright

Harry Bertoia

George Nelson

Eero Saarinen

Charles Voysey

Marcel Breuer

Gio Ponti


3 thoughts on “Design Legend: Arthur Mackmurdo

  1. The Thistle Chair looks amazing. What really captures me is the light and shadow play behind it. It must look even better in warm, afternoon light.

  2. The Thistle is an amazing chair. I love Mackmurdo’s mix of architectural shapes with Art Nouveau motifs

  3. Pingback: Arthur Mackmurdo « Arts and Crafts Society of Central New York

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