Sunday, February 11, 2007

Art Nouveau & Vienna Secession: Europe

The Art Nouveau and the Vienna Secession in Europe originated in Britain during the late nineteenth century. As a style led by France and Belgium, the Art Nouveau expanded the possibilities of materials and was most commonly characterized by whiplash curves and abstract natural forms. This style developed due to the economic expansion of growing cities, the social rejection of historical precedents, and the experimentation of new materials. For example, in The Horta House, Victor Horta explored the possibilities of iron in the staircase as well as whiplash décor on the walls. As a rich display of slender columns, curvilinear lines, and sharp curves, the Horta House exemplified a new style in Europe that would continue to push technological advances. Small amounts of iron, for instance, supported a large amount of weight. This strength allowed the designer to have more flexibility with the space thus allowing Horta to experiment with curving lines based on natural forms.

Soon after the Horta House was created, Otto Wagner and many others led the Vienna Secession in 1898. They led this style by including even more abstracted natural forms in design. While the early characteristics of Art Nouveau included slender proportions, long curvy décor, and more functional designs, the Art Nouveau became more of a style for the aesthete, a person who had a refined sensitivity to nature and more of a disregard for historical precedents. And although architects such as Otto Wagner called for designs based on purpose, this style continued until World War I. Consequently, the art of pushing ideas from the past including reinterpretations of inspiration(the art of Japan, nature, and geometry)relatively ended in the 1920‘s. However, the flowing Art Nouveau patterns and carefully detailed fantastic forms continued to prosper throughout Europe.

At the height of the Art Nouveau style, Spain gave Europe an interesting interpretation on the style. For example, Antoni Gaudi used untraditional decorative design and fantastical forms in order to push the limits of the Art Nouveau style. In the same way, current designers often push ideas from the past in order to create designs with a new purpose. After all, social, economic, political, and technological circumstances dictate the direction of design and as one might say, ‘history repeats itself’. However, even though society was changing at the turn of the 20th century, was it a good idea to include such precarious metal work in Art Nouveau designs? After all, as a style of unpredictable turning angles someone could run into something, misjudge angles, get hurt; Was it worth the risks to create an interesting design over what some may call un-functional design?

Pile. A History of Interior Design.


Mary Margaret said...

I think that the metal work was worth taking a chance on. I am sure that the designers did not design something without thinking about the edges being dangerous because that is a designers job to think about and make sure it is not dangerous. It could have very likely happened, but from the picture it seemed that the metal work was incorporated into the columns or in the stair railing beautifully. The curved lines of the metal work was very risky but also something different then what had been done before. It is the designers job to think of new ideas and do something different from what everyone else has already done. The organic lines were manipulated well with the curved metal and something that was seen throughout the movement.

G.Fickle said...

I believe that like everything, design is a process of trial and error. Even though the designs may have been un-functional, they were definatley more aesthetically pleasing, or at least drastically different then those in the victorian era. Quite possibly, the designers were more interested in getting a new design out there and not so interested in making it functional, at first anyway.

spees said...

I believe it was worth the risk of creating an un-functional design in order to push the limits of what had been. Sometimes aethetics are just as important as functionality. The long flowing forms from the s-curves and other aspects of the art nouveau designs gave something more to regular functionality, it didn't take away from it. Although the ideals of the art nouveau were more about design and perhaps even decoration than functionality, why should we fault them for this? If we didn't worry about design, designers like us wouldn't have a purpose anyway. Also, I don't believe any of these designs was at fault for "hurting" anyone, and I think that was a low "risk" to take.

Becca Cole said...

I think it was a necessary step to take the risk of creating interesting design. How are designers and artist going to know where the boundaries of designing for society are at or even where their own boundaries are; or if they are pushing the boundaries to make new boundaries? Plus, design like this allows the world to see that things don’t have to be designed one way and made out of one kind of material. Some of this design might be “dysfunctional design” but how are they going to find out it is until something is dysfunction until it is designed that way. I believe this era was great for design; it opened so many doors for future design

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.