Monday, September 22, 2008

Lily Glover- fire screen

The fire screen was designed by William Arthur Smith Benson in 1891 in England. He was considered a master of metalwork, the fire screen being made of a combination of bronze and copper creating leaf like parts that fanned to cover the fireplace. Unlike many other designers during the arts and crafts movement, Benson wanted his designs to be used for mass production and really embraced the industrial movement.
This approach to design is a stark contrast to the John H. Belter sofa which is a very intricately crafted piece of furniture. He creates overly embellished woodwork, that is a Rococo Revival and a very high style look. This sofa is in no way appropriate for mass production. Belter's approach to design is one of a kind pieces. He is especially known for his work with carving rosewood, which is a very organic material, as opposed to the bronze and copper pieces that Benson is known for. Benson's work is much more streamlined and focused on form, rather than the embellishments of Belter's woodworking.
However WAS Benson worked similarly to Isaac Merritt Singer who created the Singer sewing machine. Singer was quick to embrace the industrial world as well by creating a sewing machine for commercial use. His design was much more practical than those that had already been invented. He made several improvements such as switching from a curved needle to a straight one. Once he started his own company he began to target sewing machines for people’s homes. Benson's fire screen is much like this in that he was able to bring a part of industry into peoples homes, just as Isaac Singer did with his home sewing machine.

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