A famous perspective was introduced in the 1860s suggesting a nation’s architecture and design were a direct reflection of the social and political health of that nation. While much has been written honoring the men of major design and architectural movements, many women designers contributed significantly to the furnishings of the modern home. It would be all too easy to assume a woman’s design touch in the home results from her natural inclination and role to be interested in the home environment, and her desire to express good taste. I propose women have an innate, special understanding of art, nature and life, and the vital interaction among these propels them into creativity. Throughout the 1900s, women took their talents based in small, home workshops, and successfully infiltrated the design world. We can be quite certain it was women who first considered the notion of art on the floor.
While men were notably using their strengths and ambitions towards the singular visions of structural design and the fine arts, women were unstably and quietly infusing the world of design with their own creations. Let us acknowledge some of their innovations.
Women designers were responsible for:
• The rediscovery of overlooked dyeing and printing methods
• Combining colors and patterns to suit current architectural designs
• Adapting fine art painting trends for use in both fashion and interior design
• Influencing the industrial production of woven materials from their weaving knowledge on the hand loom
• Cataloging pottery glazes made from natural resources
• Designing innovations for the home such as the push button light switch and stackable tableware
In regards to women taking fine art painting trends to use in fashion, there is a great story of the famous painter, Gustav Klimt, who painted women in exotic and startling dresses. His lover, Emilie Floge, set up a dress salon where women flocked to commission the dresses Klimt painted. Not only could they have a dress made, but commission Klimt to do their portrait in their new dress. Other notable artists of the Fauvist movement in the 1920s, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, though both fine artists, became successful decorators and designers after living together and collaborating their artistic talents into home design. These two artists were in great demand to embellish other homes with their easy and colorful style.
I am sure with more in depth research, this list would be considerably extensive. It has been, and continues to be, the trend among women to cultivate a practical approach towards design without sacrificing beauty and art. This pragmatic vision honors the use of natural materials while enhancing daily life with the necessity for creative expression. With this in mind, art on the floor in the form of a floorcloth fits beautifully as a perfect blend of art and craft. I am going to guess that Duncan and Vanessa created a floorcloth for their home.
Floor art is today a trendy alternative for area rugs and carpets. It includes either the actual painting of a design on the floor or a hand-painted rug for use on the floor. The concept of painted floors was made popular in the Art Deco era after the first World War. It is defined as a glamorous, timeless design style with distinct patterns and textures in which sleek, smooth lines are accentuated. The Art Deco feel is minimal and simple lending itself to geometric shapes. Art Deco floors were most commonly painted in black and white using either checkered or geometric designs. Today, the Art Deco floor adheres to a broader design style which includes more colors and modern patterns. Homeowners are opting more for painted rugs than painted floors which are seen more often in commercial spaces. Though I love a painted floor, it is a permanent installation which does not offer the easy flexibility of my changing design whims.
There is amazing floor art available currently by artists who create three dimensional designs that are so realistic. I have a friend who commissioned such an artist to paint a Koi pond on her bathroom floor. It was so life like that I found myself tip toeing into the bathroom for fear of sinking into the pond.
Art on the floor is most often expressed as a floorcloth because it is a hand-painted work by the artist. Though area rugs with beautiful designs can certainly be considered artful, they are man made in contrast to hand-painted rugs. The beauty of a hand-painted rug is the ability to custom design it to suit your home decor perfectly. One cannot always find the perfect area rug which blends or matches our current decor. Floorcloths provide a welcome option for creating just the look and feel we desire in any room.
While area rugs are desired for warmth in colder climates, floorcloths are ideal for homes in warmer climates. However, floorcloths are by no means limited to warmer locations. They originated, after all, in this country in the northern climate of New England where they were used for their durable and protective attributes as rugs. The versatility of floorcloths allows for both practical use and unique art on the floor.
Most consumers will be delightfully surprised to discover all the many benefits of using a floorcloth over an area rug in the home. These rugs are true floor art in which one can express their own artistic, creative vision while incorporating a simple solution for easy, care free living.
Add some art on your floor today, and enjoy it for a long time to come.