After the Civil War, Americans began to look more closely at the most current high-style designs coming from Europe. While European design had always been influential, ordinary Americans began to tour Europe more often, and young American architects and designers entered the schools and ateliers there. The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 was instrumental in bringing beautifully designed objects from all over the world to the attention of the American consumer. The exhibits from England and Japan were particularly esteemed. For Americans who wanted to be thought “artistic,” an attribute that was highly valued in the late 1870s and 1880s, “honest” Modern Gothic oak furniture was most favored. This style was popularized by British design reformer Charles Locke Eastlake (1836–1906), in his seminal book Hints on Household Taste (first English edition 1868, first American edition 1872). After the 1870s, taste in furniture grew still more eclectic, and particular styles were no longer so rigidly prescribed for particular rooms. At this time also, home design became the purview of professionally trained architects and designers, who, at their best, created their own more innovative designs rather than depending so heavily on the styles of the past.
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