Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Emergence of Modernism


“Modernism is the name given to the new forms that appeared in all of the arts- in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature. Four men are regarded as pioneers in the modernism in design. They defined new directions with such clarity and force that they can be thought of as the originators of the ‘modern movement.’ (Pile 323)”

In the emergence of modernism, four men really stand out as the “instigators” of the movement: Walter Gropius, Ludwig van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright. These men paved the way for architects and artists by manipulating forms and lines into ideas that had never before been possible. Thanks to newfound technology (such as reinforced concrete) and yet another wave of displeasure with gaudy decoration, simplicity and abstraction became all the rage. But throughout this movement, another movement has really begun to take off- one that Pile neglects to really mention in his account of the emergence of modernism. For the first time in the history of design, notable designers are also women.

One such designer would be the indisputable genius of Eileen Gray, who is noticeably absent in Pile’s account of modernism. She gets her start doing lacquer screens and furniture as an apprentice, and quickly moves to furniture and rug design. One particularly famous piece would be her cigarette table (seen above), which is still commonly featured in design magazines. Her long and successful career culminated with her house, E.1027- which inspired Modernist pioneer Le Corbusier so much that he not only bought a neighboring lot, he fixated and eventually occupied E.1027! He even attempted to add his own touch to the house- eight massive murals done in Gray’s “style.” Naturally, Gray was horrified.

This is not to rant on Pile for not including women designers in his analysis of the Modernist movement, or even to chastise Le Corbusier for degrading Eileen Gray’s already acclaimed design. Rather, it is to pose a question. In a profession so markedly dominated by women (the profession of interior designer, not architect), how many will actually be remembered or celebrated? Will future movements be marked solely by achievements in architecture as well, or will interiors and their designers also be able to create and define future movements without being incorporated into architecture? Furthermore, where will women be in the scheme of all of this?

20 comments:

edperr2 said...

Ill have to agree with Mallory when she says that in most cases it is the architect and their counterparts who receive the most cudos for their designs while shafting the Interior Designer. However, I believe the mis-analysis is not due to the fact that it is a field dominate by women, sice the latest figures say that is 55% me in the work force to 45% women, i believe it is due to the growing architect ignorance and ego.

Meawhile the modernist movement is a movement that was meant to revitalize the culture with a sense of pride in their space and items. It is meant to capture the soul of an individual while retaining the idea of universal appeal through natural materials, cozy spaces, and an overall secure feeling of home.

edperr2 said...

Here's a question for us all... Why do we still call it Modernism if it was so long ago. By default, isn't everything that comes along called Modern? Then when that styls gets phased out, we come up with a fancy name to remember it by. Something to ponder.

I think that Mallory's question as to whether Interior Designers will start receiving more credit is a good one. In the past, it has usually been the architect that has received all of the credit. But take a look at what is happening in popular culture today. HGTV, TLC and other TV networks have made interior designers household names. Target brands entire lines of goods with the name of the designers. Interior design is becoming extremely popular in our culture today. Also, like Eric mentioned, the Interior Design profession is not dominated by women. Although it may seem that way, the Interior Design workforce is actually 55% men and 45% women.

Megandrees said...

I think that as buildings start to be designed from the inside out and not from the outside in, interior designers will get their dues. I don't understand why as a world we are so ignorant to the interior spaces we live in. We don't experience most of our day in the outside world, so why do people think of architects above interior designers. In my view the exterior of a building is there to excite the occupant for the interior. Historically we have explored the exterior of buildings. In art classes and ID 142 we spent a lot of time focusing on the exterior of buildings. We have left much to create in the future of the interior space. I hope that the future generations don't see us as the HGTV generation but as people who explored what an interior space is and how that space can be manipulated.

emily said...

As a profession that has been around much longer than Interior Design, Architecture has had a head start. However, as an emerging profession, Interior Design is becoming more acknowledged as an independent entity from architecture. For example, five-year plans for a design degree are becoming more popular as well as the actually knowledge of what interior design is; for instance in television, media, etc.

In addition, I do believe that in the future designers will be more recognized, become more of a separate field than architecture, and will become a profession based more on the job criteria than "a profession dominated by women.”

RCRecker said...

Modernism in some ways can be just important to us as the industrial revolution because of the design and ideas people used or tried to use. But because it was thought pf is more the outside then in has to make you wonder about us and how we may feel. As design student we want to think that what we will be doing may have a big impacted on people and how they feel in a space. But a majority of people never look at the inside and say that’s why I am happy or sad or feel the way they do. It’s our job to subconsciously make the person feel the way they do at home, work, school, ect.. Modernism was a start to help change how people saw interiors and planned the inside instead of just letting it happen. It opened the doors for designers and still today we find new designs and new ideas. We may change but we are always pulling and looking in the past to help perfect our designs today.

kelsdietz said...
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kelsdietz said...

I think it's a good question as well, however I don't think it's beening looked at in the right context. We forget that interior design as really only been considered a true career over the past few decays. In the modernism era architects were doing the interiors and getting the credit, which they desevered. Today we are getting more credit, only I don't think we have been around long enough to start our own movement or era. Hopefully years from now students will learn about the accomplishments of interior designers as well and our own movements. Until then the clash between architects and interior designers is never going to end. However I think the question is when are we all going to realize that without one you can't have the other? And then on one will being getting credit.

algrun2 said...

I do believe there is a time in the future when the Interior design profession will be rightfully creditied for its accomplishments and perhaps progress to such a degree that the difference between interior design and architecture, will be easily distinguished by the general public. Women are seen participating more in the work world as time goes on, and as long as we continue to advance, all sterotypes and preconcieved notions will be ceased. We won't be denied credit because we are women, we will be recognized because we are successful.

brittanyg0321 said...

I think architects definately had a head start in that they were the first to design interiors in addition to the exterior. Yet, as an interior designer we are not allowed that convienince of completing the whole package but are only able to work with a shell that has already been provided.

I don't think we are inferior but many are just ignorant about how much interior designers really do, and as Megan said many believe we are just like an HGTV program about what color to put on the walls. I don't however believe that women get too far left behind, just that everything takes time to come around and maybe this is just one of those things.

Mary Margaret said...

This question is hard to say because it is true that most of what we learn about is architects work.I agree with what everyone else has been saying about architecture being around a lot longer and interior design is a profession that is evovling. Also Megan metioned a building being designed from the inside out and I agree but I also feel that an architect will design there part and have an interior designer do the interior. Any building is not just designed by one architect or at least that is not what we have been taught so it seems that a group of architects and designers work together on a project. A architect seems to be credited but we all know that they did not do it alone.
On a different note what Eric metioned with interior designers being dominated by men, does not seem true to most people because of decoraters. Especially like he metioned with all of the reality shows that have so call "interior designers" most people do not even know the difference between the two. It seems that because of that we call ourselves interior architecture students so that it is not confused that we do not just pick out drapes and color. I think that is going to take time for interior designers to get the credit they deserve.

Caitlin said...

It is known to us, as interior design students, that architecture and architects are people that are often studied. I've looked to FLW, Richard Meier, and Le Corbusier for inspiration, but I never recall researching interior designers. Architecture has been looked upon as prestigous since it began, and is still viewed that way. I think this is because the basis of what a structure is, is the necessity for shelter. Essentially, that is the basic step of the architect, to provide shelter, and to make that the most efficient shelter, moving that structure into high design.
I think that interior designers arent remembered from the past because it seemed secondary to architecture and not a necessity. But if you look around now, it is seen how much interior design has impacted our society, because people are beginning to realize that the interior private dwelling places of our homes is just as, if not more important than the exterior.
I believe that interior designers, both men and women will gain power over the next decade. While I believe this will happen, I think it will be in conjunction with architecure, not just alone.

brittney said...

There are some very insightful comments in the responses above and some very strong points have been made. I have to agree with Mary Margaret in saying that the all too common misconception of interior designer versus interior decorator is slowing this evolution down a little bit. When a woman's name is mentioned in regards to design, people take a moment to appreciate her 'decorating skill' and 'what all she was able to do with the place' and then move on...when a man, an 'architect' presents his work, however, people go on and on about 'his genius'. Although this new trend and interest in 'design television' and 'design' in general, as well as places like Target, are helping to get the names of women and other designers out there, this is and will remain, a long-fought battle of the sexes, however sad that sounds. We, however, are just as much to blame, because before we can expect others to take an interest in designers of the past (and the present), we must do the same...and begin to look at them for our inspiration, in addition to all the great architects we know so well.

brittney said...
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Jennifer Litsey said...
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Jennifer Litsey said...

You've raised a very interesting point. It does seem very strange that in a profession that is so highly dominated by women, a very important one would go unnoticed. But I also think that there is a good reason why this has happpened. Until recently, women have been overlooked in their successes, and that is as long as they were allowed to work on these things in the first place. Honestly, it isn't surprising that she was overlooked, sadly enough. I think that it is continuously getting better over time but I still don't think we are to the point where women are getting as much publicity and acknowledgement for their work as they deserve. It will definitely be interesting to see how many will be remembered in the future.

Brad said...

I feel that Interior Design is looked upon and treated by architects as the less important and less skilled profession of design. And until the profession changes the steriotype that interior designers pick colors and architects do all the technical work the level of respect towards the women or anyone in the field of interior design is not going to be as high as that of the architect. Especially when one walks into a building and can instantly tell that the architect designed both the inside and the out by him or herself because the flow is so bad.

G.Fickle said...

I definatley think that interior designers will eventually get the credit they deserve. It may take a while, maybe not even in our lifetime since most people still think we throw pillows around! I do agree that incorporating the title Interior Architect and eduating people on the intense process and details will make them realize that it is more than just the architects creating great design.

estee said...

I agree with Megan, brad, and eric. I feel that the the world of interior design is changing due to the popular design shows on HGTV as well as Design Star and Extreme Home Makeover. People are taking much more notice of how important the interior is and realizing that it is just as complicated to construct or manipulate as the exterior. However, like Brad commented it just seems to be the world's standard to put architects on a pedastool and forget the interior designer. I'm not sure if I believe designers will ever get the recognition they deserve. I do feel that within the next ten years or so that architects and designers are going to become more important than history has ever known because of Green Design. I feel we have an extremely important role to fill in changing the way we live by redesigning the way we use everything!!!

Joyce T said...

Just as the media, such as magazines, helped the first interior decorators become famous, the media today, in the form of television shows, as well as magazines, is helping to make the names of Interior Designers more well known.
In the past architects usually doubled as interior designers, so deservingly recieved all the credit. When interior designers started working along side architects, people were not used to this, and interior designers were still ignored. However, I feel in the present time, Interior Designers are becoming more well known because people realize that an architect, in many cases, only designs the exterior.
Also, I feel that Modernism was a step towards a new and different way of thinking about design. I believe this new realization helped in the transition to thinking about interior designers as well as Architects. It helped to differentiate between exterior and interior in that it made people think differently about space in general.

monicam said...

haha brad! I like your last comment. I agree that interior design does not get the credit it deserves today. I can not tell you how many times I explain to people that being in school for interior design is not learning how to hang curtains. (GRRR) However, I'm not sure that interior design is not given the credit it deserves because of the women involved. Like someone else said the interior design field is half male! So it can not just be because of that. To be honest I believe it is due a little bit to the ignorance of the public. Its easy to look at a building from the outside and understand how much time and effort it took to build a solid working building, however its not as easy for someone of no education in the inteior design field to go into a room or interior space and understand why or why not they feel comfortable in the space. It is more of a psychological thing, and until the public is educated I'm not sure interior designers will get the credit they deserve!!

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.