Christopher Dresser

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Christopher Dresser, 1834–1904, British designer, pioneer of modern industrial design, b. Scotland, He moved (1847) to London, where he studied (1847–54) at the Government School of Design. He began his career as a botanist, teaching and writing several books. Dresser contributed floral designs to Owen Jones's Grammar of Ornament (1856), and by the time he wrote The Art of Decorative Design (1862), had turned most of his attention to design. He introduced to British design elements from many cultures, especially Japan, where he traveled in 1876. Eschewing the overly ornamental, he created ceramics, metalwork, silver, glass, textiles, wallpaper, and other items, many of them sleek forerunners of modern design. Unlike his contemporary William Morris, who shunned the mass-produced, Dresser was particularly important in introducing modern industrial techniques, working directly with manufacturers to produce elegant, affordable products. His other books include Principles of Decorative Design (1873) and Japan, Its Architecture, Art and Art Manufactures (1882).

See studies by W. Halén (1993), S. Durant (1993), M. Whiteway (2002 and 2004), F. Taylor (2004), and H. Lyons (2005).

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Dresser, Christopher (1834–1904). Glasgow-born, one of the most distinguished and inventive industrial designers of C19. His publications include Botany as Adapted to the Arts and Art Manufactures (1857–8), The Art of Decorative Design (1862), The Principles of Decorative Design (1873), Japan, its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures (1882), and Modern Ornamentation (1886). Many of his designs for incised ornament and cast-iron artefacts were widely copied. He was profoundly influenced by the natural world, by A. W. N. Pugin, by Owen Jones, and by Japanese artefacts.


Dennis & and Jesse (1972);
Dresser (1862, 1873, 1882);
Durant (1993;
Halen (1993);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);