Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Ascendancy of Modernism

We are still paying for the design sins committed during the ‘ascendancy of modernism’.
Of course this is not to say that all of the design created after world war two was bad. In fact many groundbreaking designs were coming into fruition. Design in the, United States and Europe, was ‘happening’ in some ‘far out’ ways. Organic shapes became more popular, as did glassed wall skyscrapers. Outwardly society was futuristic and adventurous, but in reality society was a sham. Society began to flee the city causing what is known as ‘suburban sprawl’. Business still occurred in the city but after work each day the modernist posers would journey to their homeland, also known as, Suburbia. Suburbia was according to Pile a group tragically arranged settlements that were sad mock-ups of traditionalism. Contractors could easily develop suburban dwellings and make large profits.
Other sad events also occurred in the ascendancy period. Windows became obsolete. Florescent lighting and air conditioning took the place of nature. The home was becoming separated from its surroundings and thus the inhabitant from the world.

While there were some examples of creativity in domestic design (see Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House) the majority of new home design was doubty and poorly executed. What does it say about us, as a civilization, when our public spaces define us as modernists but we live the lives of traditionalist? How is it possible that we could become so detached from who we claime to be and who we truly are? Surely this is pretence in design. It proves that we wanted to be modernists but couldn't bring ourselves to live the modernist lifestyle. If so then was modernism an unrealistic ideal?
Why does society feel so comfortable with a style based on poor interpretations of traditionalism? Perhaps it had something to do with economics and the expense of something unique. Still, are we contradicting ourselves in design even today? Suburbia has become the American dream. Nothing outrageous ever happens in suburbia (at least in our ideal Suburbia). Some suburban districts can even control what color you paint your house. While this may sound like some fascist rule it provides a great deal of comfort to suburban residents. People love suburbia because it’s predictable and safe. And who can blame them don’t we all want to live in somewhere safe?

If all this is true then will the principals of modernism ever prevail in everyday domestic design or are we stuck in suburbia?

1 comment:

algrun2 said...

It takes alot to push people out of their shells. However, I don't think it is impossible to reach futuristic design.I bellive the idea of surburbia has to do with following the croud and wanting to feel part of a community that shares similar traits. No one will ever be able to change the human need to feel apart of groups but when bringing about futuristic idea's and proposals it has to be strong in concept and in reason to catch the majority of the public's attention and need's to be well supported. So, to implement futuristic designs and have them be successful, one will have to gain the majority of public support and portray the project as being highly rational.

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