The Applied Arts are the application of design and decoration to everyday objects to make them aesthetically pleasing. The term is applied in distinction to the fine arts which aims to produce objects which are beautiful and/or provide intellectual stimulation. In practice, the two often overlap.

The fields of industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and the decorative arts are considered applied arts. In a creative and/or abstract context, the fields of architecture and photography are also considered applied arts

Applied Art: Definition & Meaning

The term “applied art” refers to the application (and resulting product) of artistic design to utilitarian objects in everyday use. Whereas works of fine art have no function other than providing aesthetic or intellectual stimulation to the viewer, works of applied art are usually functional objects which have been “prettified” or creatively designed with both aesthetics and function in mind. Applied art embraces a huge range of products and items, from a teapot or chair, to the walls and roof of a railway station or concert hall, a fountain pen or computer mouse.

What Does Applied Art Include?

For the sake of simplicity, works of applied art comprise two different types: standard machine-made products which have had a particular design applied to them, to make them more attractive and easy-to-use; and individual, aesthetically pleasing but mostly functional, craft products made by artisans or skilled workers. Artistic disciplines that are classified as applied arts, include industrial design, fashion design, interior design, and graphic art and design (including computer graphics), as well as most types of decorative art(e g. furniture, carpets, tapestry, embroidery, batik, jewelry, precious metal work, pottery, goldsmithing, basketry, mosaic art, and glassware).Illuminated manuscripts and later book illustration are also classified as applied arts. Architecture too is best viewed as an applied art.

Commercial Design

Aside from architecture, applied art received its biggest boost from the growth in commerce during the 19th century, following the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly, competitive manufacturers and service providers needed to ensure that their products and services “looked good” as well as functioned properly. This demand for improved aesthetics led to the establishment of numerous design schools and courses, from which a new generation of industrial designers emerged. Later, as the range of products multiplied, and new printing techniques appeared, they were joined by fashion designers, graphic designers and most recently computer graphics designers.

Applied Art