You pick up a product and you give very little thought to what goes into making it. Some people wonder how these things were made but when someone mentions an industrial designer a blank look comes over their faces. Christopher Dresser draws even more confused looks. Very few people know what industrial designers do, which is surprising considering the impact they make on our everyday lives.
Mr. Dresser was considered the first industrial designer. His influence on the design movement was, and still is, monumental. As a highly respected figure in the aesthetic movement, Dresser was a design theorist as well as an actual designer and his theories have had a long lasting influence on international communities of industrial designers.
Born in Scotland, Dresser showed design talent and was sent to the School of Design at the age of 13. He specialised in botany but took design as a subject and combined his art with botany. He was appointed as Professor of Artistic Botany and went on to write many articles for the Art Journal.
As a keen artist Christopher Dresser saw art in everything and his combination of art and botany brought him much acclaim amongst artisans and academics. Soon after his foray in botany, Dresser started working with textiles, furniture, carpets and wallpaper. He travelled extensively to find inspiration and he found much while travelling through Japan. His many books include records of his impressions of art and life in the Japanese culture. Much of his designs were influenced by his travels to the Far East and his collections are largely considered Anglo-Japanese.
The teapot was a highly acclaimed Christopher Dresser design in 1879 and is amongst the many designs that continue to influence contemporary industrial designers. Companies such as Wedgwood, Alessi and Ault continue to use Dresser’s design influence. His toaster rack and salt and pepper shakers are still in production with the Alessi. Alberto Alessi believes that Dresser was, and still is, the biggest influence on industrial design. He was the first metal work designer and master.
Even though Dresser is still considered the metal designer of all time his ceramic work got lost and many people forgot that he was also an artist in the ceramic field. He designed and made over 1,000 pots and was considered the most influential ceramic master of all time. Christopher Dresser was an industrial designer way ahead of his time. The world has yet to experience another Christopher Dresser, but there are a few up-and-coming industrial designers that are set to follow closely in Dresser’s footsteps.
As a freelance writer Vida Denning spends her time at different work space in different cities when travelling. Her recent trip to Japan offered insights into work space and the influence industrial design has had on that space in terms of decor and appeal.