Edgar Wood was a leading member of the Arts and Crafts Movement. This was an international trend in the decorative and fine arts that began in Britain and flourished in Europe and North America between about 1880 and 1920, emerging in Japan in the 1920s as the Mingei movement. It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, and often art nouveau, romantic, or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and was largely anti-industrial. It had a strong influence on the arts in Europe until it was displaced by Modernism in the 1930s. Edgar Wood was a pioneer of Modernism as it grew out of the more adventurous parts of the Arts & Crafts Movement. The Arts and Crafts Movement nevertheless continued for many decades through through the twentieth century with architects, artists, craft makers, designers and town planners who maintained the importance of hand made bespoke design. Modernism never completely replaced it.
The term ‘Arts & Crafts’ was first used by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson at a meeting of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1887, of which Edgar Wood was a member. The principles and style on which it was based had been developing in England for at least 20 years before then, however, often in association with Gothic architecture. It was inspired by the ideas of architect Augustus Pugin, writer John Ruskin, and designer William Morris.
The movement developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles and spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and America. It was largely a reaction against the perceived impoverishment of the decorative arts at that time and the conditions which led to this.