Master or Market?: The Anglo-Japanese textile designs of Christopher Dresser

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Victorian designer Christopher Dresser's 1876-77 journey to Japan has been heralded as an experience that revolutionized his designs for a variety of mediums. His textile designs, however, are often dismissed in favour of the discussion of the corpus of works produced after his return to England that most strongly support the view of the designer as a proto-modernist, despite recent attempts to emphasize instead his role as the first properly so-called industrial designer. This article critically examines Dresser's Anglo-Japanese textile designs and observations of Japanese textile culture during his travels in order to contextualize him and his work with regard to nineteenth-century design reform, Victorian ideas of Japanese art and culture, and consumer taste. It abandons attempts at myth making to better show how the designer and his activities relate to cultural, social and economic history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-214
JournalJournal of Design History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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