Craftsman vs. Victorian. Simplicity vs. excess. New school vs. Old school. These paradigms always seem to be at odds, never more so than in the early 1900’s. Before then, the Victorian style of excessive decoration was the norm; but in 1901, Gustav Stickley (1858-1942) introduced a style that would change the way homes appeared for the next 50 years. When Stickley saw Victorian homes, he did not see them as beautiful, he saw them as being excessively ornate. To him, Victorian owners decorated lavishly because they were hiding personal deficiency. A home is a refuge—a place of solace and solitude; not an excessive building whose beauty the owner hides behind. Our featured sign of the week, the Stickley address plaque, is a great example of the craftsman style and demonstrates the simplicity of Stickley’s vision.
Gustav Stickley was born in Osceola, Wisconsin where he grew up as a farm-boy. When he reached 18 years of age he declined formal education, choosing to work at his father’s stone-masonry instead. He worked with his father until 1876 when he moved to Pennsylvania to work at his uncle’s chair company—Stickley’s first experience in the furniture industry.
Stickley soon formed his own furniture company (which folded), and eventually became the co-founder of a new furniture company using his own ideals during the creation process. Stickley’s furniture ideals made their first appearance in an experimental furniture line called “the new furniture”—an immediate success. With the popularity of Victorian style fading, Stickley published “The Craftsman,” a magazine dedicated to the arts and crafts movement—further the diminishing Victorian’s tired style. The rest, they say, is history.
It is in the spirit of Stickley’s architecture that we made the Stickley Modern Advantage Plaque. This plaque is plain in design: no border, no graphics, and no excess. If you are an owner of a craftsman home, bungalow, or any modestly styled home, then this is the sign for you.