Monday, October 15, 2007

"Modern Movement I"

The ideas of modernism began to spread when Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson organized “The International Style,” an architectural exhibition in 1932. Seventy-Five projects were presented and many of them shared the same characteristics that are mentioned in Pyle’s text: Flat roofs, smooth, white walls, large spans of glass, asymmetrical plans, and the absence of ornamental or historical detail. These projects were considered to be designed under the idea of function, rather than what is just aesthetically pleasing. Eleven of the projects were highly based on interiors, here noting a key principle of modernism – That the design of architecture be first based on the interior arrangement of a space, ultimately leading to the exterior's design. Hitchcock and Johnson describe the new modern style as abstract, cubistic, and representative of the “machine age.” In its simplicity, modernism also lead to further exploration in form through steel and concrete.
Because of the new approach to design, others viewed it as very progressive thinking. Putting the past behind and moving forward. Many countries, particular in Europe, were uncomfortable with these new ideas, limiting progressive thinkers, and opposing everything that was not eclectic or an imitation of history. Modernism was the belief that design should be for and used by everyone. Therefore, it developed in areas where democracy and social idealism flourished. With its evolution, do you see modernism as a result of politics, a style driven only by technology and engineering developments, or just a matter of taste? Maybe, perhaps, none of these apply to what you perceive. In what ways do you see the principle of modernism used today?


Audrey said...

All influential design styles, including the internationalist movement, are created in response to the social, aesthetic and functional dilemmas of a specific era. Modernism is the result of globalization. During the internationalist movement, design became extremely utilitarian. Architecture became machines that could serve practically anyone in any location. Today we see a more corporate form of modernism that is derived from our global economy. In class, we refer to this modern design approach as 'branding'. However, domestic modernism is a bit scarce. Most average Americans don’t want to live in a space without a past or an ethnicity. To live in a strictly modern home is, in someways, a proclamation that one has no past or religion. Modernism in the home can easily become 'cold'. This is probably why we see so many horror movies where the villain lives in a cold extremely modern space (I.e. Glass House, When a Stranger Calls ect.). Still not all domestic modernism is soulless. The homes of FLW are extremely warm. Domestic modernism was most successful in Falling Water, which is an anomaly in the internationalist movement due to its warmth and strong reference to Asian culture.
Domestic modernism is making a comeback. We can see this resurgence in magazines like Dwell and Domino. Who is to say weather modernism will prevail in the home?

jessica said...

Just like any other style Modernism was a react to what was before it. It was a return to the basics where ornamentation was removed and was striped of everything that was not functional. What was left was a piece that was simple in form and illustrated a specific function. I liked how Audrey pointed out the different places modernism is used and compared how the use of the style in the home vs. in the office is completely different. The office needs structure and functionality above anything else and that's why I think it is so successful in the business environment because that's what modernism portrays. While a home needs structure and functionality it also needs to be a place of comfort and pleasure more so than in the business realm. This leads to a slight twist on modern design if it is to be incorporated into the home. It can still have the rigid edges but with a slightly softer feel either through mixing with other styles or the through the color palette that is in the home so it is not as “cold.”

NBUSHdesign said...

Of course I don’t think that only one thing had an influence on the development of architectural and design styles in the world. Everything plays a factor in what makes the world progress. That being said, I think that architectural and design movements along with politics are deeply parallel to each other. Buildings equal power, stuff equals power, ornate equals rich. There became a development in socioeconomics early on in human history that made politics create new architecture. The roots of establishment were in these styles, hence the English’s hesitation to let go of old and move into new.
Relating this to modernism, I think that politics had a lot to do with the style, just as technology, engineering, and taste. They are all influences. There was a large movement by many designers who were tired of hierarchal positions to push for an unhistorical, new style that would create an equality of all the “brothers and sisters” of the world. One such group was the Bauhaus. Politics almost forced them into creating this style. However, the part of taste comes in to play when these individuals created this style after the industrial revolution. These new mechanical forms were something they created and no doubt had an influence on their taste.
I see modernism being used today in settings where people have a lot of money, are thought of as “high class or cultured“, or in public spaces. It seems there has not been a cross of modernism into the mainstream home, or interior for that matter. We as a society are still wrapped up in our human past and are very hesitant to let go.

estee said...

I'm sure that politics had some influence on the this new clean slate of modern design, but doesn't every new design era partially stem from current social issues? For instance the Arts and crafts era. Think of how many of the designers were driven by social reform such as William Morris.
On a different note, I agree with Audrey that we still usually only see the "cubist" streamline modern design within or on coorporate buildings. After just researching for my Art Noveau paper, I can't help but think that the new innovative forms of that era were a stepping point for even this type of modern design, of course in a totally new way. Instead of organic, free flowing forms. new geometrical, streamline forms were being innovated.

Kasey said...

Modernism, like others have said, was a reaction to the culture that fostered it. It came from necessity. Once we saw that historical design could not successfully be used to satisfy modern needs (e.g. Tribune Tower), we had to make something that could. Since the globalized culture, and over populated cities were new to the universe, the only logical solution for its accomodation was a brand new design style or way of thinking. Furthermore, the machine expanded the possibilities of this new style far beyond what any ancient civilizations could have conceived. This notion, together with the progressive thinking minds striving to break free from the conservative, restricting world they lived in were simply expressing creativity.
I think Frank Lloyd Wright said it best..."Without good reason we should not depart from the customary...But if the change is governed by sound reason, it compels an adjustment of thought."

J Kan said...

"These projects were considered to be designed under the idea of function, rather than what is just aesthetically pleasing."

Yes these projects, usually massive high rises, were designed under the idea of function. It was necessary to be able to construct safely. However, I do not think that they ignored completly what was aesthetically pleasing. The simplicity of the massive stuctures speaks volumes. Also it reflects the professionalism that is housed within the building itself. Many architects were praied for their simple, elegant and aesthetically pleasing design.

J Kan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Funk said...

Jenna mentioned how modernism developed in areas where democracy was more prevalent. I believe that the embrace of this new ideology was a key factor in spreading the style of modernism. Buildings have always been representative of the culture, such as the colossal structures of the Roman Empire. To fully embrace a new idea a culture has to give it a part of the everyday culture, especially in politics where such a large group of people are involved. How would a classical style building representative of systems of hierarchy be applicable to the ideas of democracy? So because of these new ideas a new architecture had to emerge, one which discarded all the flourish of previous styles.
However, the presence of democracy in the societies that embraced modernism would also play a factor in the advancement of technology and engineering, by giving individuals more incentive to find new ways of doing things and pushing them even further into the modernism movement.

Laurel said...

I think that the new machine age was the greatest influence on modernism. Previous conflicts with designers who objected to the new machines were now long gone, as people realized that they would have to embrace the machine and find the most efficient way of making use of it.
Today modernism has been redefined. We are steadily developing new materials and new methods of construction, but now we have a new goal in mind: reducing our impact on the environment

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