DK Arts & Entertainment: Decorative Arts
In contrast to the fine arts of painting and sculpture, this term refers to the design of everyday objects that are turned into works of art. These objects are often purely ornamental. The decorative arts include textiles, jewelry, glasswork, and ceramics.
The most famous is probably William Morris (1834–1896). He believed that the craftsmanship of decorative art improved the lives of those who made everyday objects and those who used them. His firm produced furniture, tapestry, stained glass, fabrics, carpets, and wallpaper—all still popular today. Other famous names include Clarice Cliff (1899–1972) and Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933).
This decorative style spread through all areas of decorative art between World Wars I and II—from jewelry to ceramics, from furniture to architecture. Combining varied influences from Cubist paintings to ancient Egyptian and Aztec jewelry, Art Deco’s vivid style was characterized by sleek lines, bold colors, and geometric forms.
People sometimes use the term china to mean crockery, but china is a special type of ceramic called porcelain. First produced in China in the 7th or 8th century, it is hard and translucent (light can shine through it). Europeans did not discover how to make it until the 18th century in Meissen, Germany, which is still famous for its china.