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Arts and Crafts proponents had always recognized a conflict between affordable, democratic art and art that maintained the highest standards of craftsmanship. Could the machine be used to resolve this conflict? This question had particular urgency in turn-of-the-century Germany, a newly united, powerful country in economic competition with Britain and France. The struggle was played out in design schools, art colonies, small-scale workshops, and large manufactories.

The art colony at Darmstadt adhered to the Arts and Crafts ideal of the handmade, while firms like the Dresden Workshops for Handicraft Arts adopted mass production. Whether they worked in an art colony or an industrial company, most of the people involved in the actual making of objects experimented with a variety of approaches. These ranged from unique designs for special commissions to serial production and large-scale manufacture based on interchangeable parts.

Hermann Muthesius, the architect in charge of design education for the German government, became the champion of standardization, the concept that design should be objective, rational, and suited to endless repetition. Belgian-born designer and educator Henry Van de Velde led the opposition. He attacked Muthesius’s views, which he saw as a threat to creativity and a denial of the artist’s individuality. According to Van de Velde, art and industry could never be united since their goals were mutually exclusive.

- Wendy Kaplan (2005)