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The craftsman
Vol. XXIII, Number 2 (November 1912)

Voysey, C. F. A.
The quality of fitness in architecture and furnishings,   pp. 174-182 PDF (2.7 MB)


Page 174


THE QUALITY OF FITNESS IN ARCHITEC-
TURE AND FURNISHINGS: BY C. F. A. VOYSEY
LI art is the manifestation of thought and feeling, the
artistic quality of any object being that in it which
stimulates thought and feeling. There must there-
fore always be varying degrees of art, from good to
bad. According to our moral perceptions, we may
arouse painful thoughts and feelings, or pleasant
ones. The nobler ideas and emotions manifest the
highest arts, quite apart from technical excellence. Every soul that
breathes would like, if he could, to arouse in the minds and hearts of
others the best impulses and acts. "Our friends are people who see
the good in us and who believe in that good."
   Many will ask, What have such theories to do with architecture?
We believe them to be the essential basis of all the arts.
   An architect may encourage greed or generosity in his client. He
can suggest many vices, like deception and pretentious vulgarity, or
fan into flame better thoughts and feelings, helping the struggle for
good work, honest construction, simple dignity and harmony, repose
and reticence. The architect may regard himself as a paid hireling
whose first duty is to give his client what he thinks the client wants,
never allowing his own conscience to interfere; saying, like a shop-
man, that he must meet all tastes; or he may tactfully encourage
his client to have his needs supplied on given principles of strict
integrity, and arouse in him enthusiasm for honest construction and
frank admission of his true status and limitations. He can remind
him of reverence which leads to respect for nature and all natural
conditions, so blending his building harmoniously with nature, and
making it as good as it looks, and not fraudulently in imitation of
something better and more magnificent than his means can allow.
Better frank simplicity than sham elaboration and pretentiousness.
    Fitness is a divine law, and by fitness we mean not only material
 suitability, but moral fitness-that which expresses our best thoughts
 and feelings and our purest moral sense. We must recoil from all
 forms of dishonesty. If a client is greedy and wants too much accom-
 modation for his money, we must refuse to supply it, if it necessitates
 shoddy building or weak and faulty construction. We must start
 with the determination to build as well as we can; then will follow
 such qualities as simplicity and repose, which, if truly loved and
 sought after, will affect our architecture not only in general design
 and planning, but in every detail. The proportions of our rooms
 will suggest repose if we are really striving for it as we design our
 building, and a peaceful homely effect will be produced by these
 qualities that will appeal to all in greater or less degree. The desire
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