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The Roycrofters

I am currently reading a very interesting book by Erik Larson called Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania (a luxury passenger ship) by a German submarine during World War I. What’s so interesting about the book is that the author writes in the style of fiction, even though this is a true story about something that really happened. Erik Larson writes very intimately about every detail regarding the ship which sailed from NYC in May 1915 to Liverpool, England. He goes so far as to name many of the individuals that sailed that day (and I believe died, even though I haven’t gotten to that part of the novel yet).

One of the interesting passengers, from a design perspective, was the founder of the Roycroft movement, Elbert Hubbard from East Aurora, NY. Roycroft “was a reformist community of craft workers and artists which formed part of the Arts and Crafts movement in the United States. Participants were known as Roycrofters. The work and philosophy of the group, often referred to as the Roycroft movement, had a strong influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century.” (Wikipedia).

I was initially interested in this movement because my married last name is Croft and I work with artists and graphic designers, so I was intrigued. Apparently, there is a whole Roycroft campus which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is located in East Aurora, New York. There is an inn and restaurant and various buildings on the campus which housed printers, furniture makers, metalsmiths, leathersmiths and bookbinders.

The Roycroft creed is “A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.” Not a bad motto to live by!

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