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What is the difference between mission and arts and crafts styles?

Feb 12, 2021
arts and crafts stylesarts and crafts styles

It is not unusual to see a particular home décor item marked “mission / arts and crafts.” This leads to the misconception that these two styles are one and the same, although this is not true. Home accessories in the mission style will not necessarily match those in the arts and crafts style, although the styles do have some similarities. Knowing the difference between the two can help you differentiate them in stores, especially when you are shopping for home décor and accessories and want to create a more authentic space.

Identification: mission style

Surprisingly, the terms “mission” and “craftsman” are interchangeable. These two styles refer to exactly the same style of architecture and home decoration. This happened like many things today: through the media. To make a long story short, a Stickley Craftsman Furniture peddler was talking to a newspaper reporter, who turned around and used the term “mission” for the furniture in the catalog that is displayed “in a Spanish mission”, in instead of using the term craftsman. Since then the term has stuck around and is now easily used interchangeably with the term “craftsman”.

That said, knowing where the style came from does not help differentiate how it looks. Craftsman is actually a variation on the Arts and Crafts style. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Features larger and thicker lines than those seen in artisan-style furniture and home décor pieces. These lines were clean and unadorned, without excessive ornamental details, but rather straight lines and angles with very little unnecessary additional embellishment.

Identification: arts and crafts style

As noted above, mission-style home décor products and furniture have thicker, larger lines. Arts and crafts refers to the style from which the mission (craftsman) evolved. The Arts and Crafts home decor style began in the late 1800s, shortly before the mission / craftsman style began to emerge.

The artisan-style furniture is simple yet elegant. It features thinner lines but simple and beautiful shapes. However, unlike the mission style, the handicraft furniture and other home décor items featured a bit of ornamentation: hand carving, inlays in the wood, subtle curvature, etc. These seemingly minor differences can help make it easier to spot the difference between arts and crafts home decor and mission home decor.

Once you know these seemingly subtle differences, you can quickly begin to differentiate between furniture, home accessories, and craft or mission décor and those pieces that are arts and crafts. Many people are under the impression that these styles are all the same, but knowing the basics, including the difference in thickness of the lines and the use of inlays, shows just how different these styles really are.

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