According to the Collector's Encyclopedia, William Arthur Smith Benson, "English architect and designer" whose furniture employed inlays of rosewood, tulip, and ebony, opened a "workshop for the production of turned metalwork on a commercial scale" in 1880 with encouragement from his friend William Morris for whose firm he had designed metalwork and furniture. He opened a factory three years later and then a showroom in Bond Street (not far from the Fine Art Society) in 1887. A founding member of the Art Workers Guild (1887), he wrote "Elements of handicraft and Design" (1893). He directed the Morris and Co. furniture departtment from 1896. Unlike others in the Arts and Crafts movement, he created designs "intended for machine mass production." Charlotte Gere points out that Benson not only designed furniture and metalwork for Morris and Co, he also "collaborated with J. H. Dearle on wall-paper designs" for the firm in the 1890s (Morris and Company, p.9).

Furniture

Metalwork

References

Morris and Company. Exhibition catalogue. London: The Fine Art Society with Haslam & Whiteway Ltd., 1979.

Naylor, Gillian. The Arts and Crafts Movement: A Study of Its Sources, ideals, and influences on design theory. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1971.

Random House Collector's Encyclopedia: Victoriana to Art Deco. NY: Random House, 1974; originally published in London by William Collins Sons in the same year with the title The Collector's Encyclopedia.

W.A.S. Benson: Arts and Crafts Luminary and Pioneer of Modern Design. Ed. Ian Hamerton. Antique Collectors' Club, 2005.

"This is the first work devoted to the life and work of the designer and architect William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924). Renowned for imaginative and practical metal work designs, W. A. S. Benson is best known for his daring and innovative work in the sphere of electrical lighting. Examples of the latter have always been widely admired (even during his own lifetime) and are becoming increasingly rare and desirable. Other aspects of Benson's life and work however are perhaps less well known and these have been given prominence in this extensively researched and visually stunning book. The scope of the work places Benson in his historical context (Peter Rose), present Benson's biography (Avril Denton) and discuss his commercial work: interior design (Mark Golding), metalware (Ian Hamerton), lighting (Ian Hamerton and Salah Ben Halim), architecture (Ian Hamerton) and also the steps taken by Benson to protect himself against design theft (Tony Hampton). Several appendices also contain invaluable information concerning Benson's designs (illustrated in his sales catalogue), registered designs and trademarks and a list of his architectural works." [Antique Collectors' Club site]


Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Victorian Design Victorian Design

Last modified 14 August 2008