Monday, December 3, 2007

Context: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

In order to study a style or period of design, you must look at it in context. Design is constantly changing and reacting, constantly rebelling against the present style. There are always so many factors influencing design that it cannot be expected to stay the same for long. From production methods, to innovations in materials and processes, to social reforms and cultural influences, design is always fluctuating. We go from periods of intense ornamentation, like the Baroque, to theories of design that are the polar opposite, like Mies Van der Rohe's 'less is more.'

More recently, materials and production methods have had a significant impact on design. Because of new materials like plastics, rubberized foam, aluminum, and synthetic materials, designers have been able to experiment with forms and create things that are new and unprecedented. (Think of Gunnar Andersen’s rubberized foam chair for the Museum of Modern Art – page 320 in Raizman) or this one, which we all know:




This freedom of expression has not always been granted to designers. This is yet another context of design, the cultural influence of the time. Remember Hermann Muthesius, in Germany, who rebelled against Art Nouveau and felt that ‘individuality should be subservient to the creation of more practical, rational forms of furniture and fittings.’ (Raizman) If someone today tried to say, ‘Designers, abandon all individual expression, for there is one superior form that we must all strive to achieve,’ we would laugh at them! But during Muthesius’s time, that was exactly what was needed to help unify the country in the time leading up to World War I, lending to a strong sense of nationalism and a national identity that everyone could relate to.

For any given time period or style of design, you must consider all influences surrounding it and how they shaped that period or style. Of course, during the time that a new style is being developed and implemented, it is often unnamed and not necessarily considered a style until we can look back and examine it in context. So my question is, and you can all have fun with this, what would you call the ‘style’ that we are currently in? Consider contemporary designers and architects, (Frank Gehry, Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, and other designer’s whose work we read about in Architectural Record or Digest) as well as the economic, political, cultural influences, and the influence that is starting to permeate the design community – the idea of ‘going green.’

8 comments:

jessica said...

A mishmash hodgepodge. That’s what I call it. Today no one is really on the same page and architects are going in there own direction. It’s like we are at a stand still and can’t really commit to one style or create a new one. The styles in the past have been picked apart and the architects have applied different details that fit in with their concepts without sticking to one past style. So that’s why I call it a mishmash hodgepodge. It also fits with the society we live in today. The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world and because of this it brings many different view points, cultures and heritages together. With all these differences it’s hard to stick with just one style. If you travel across the U.S. and look at the new construction going on, you will see a wide variety of styles used depending on the use of the building and what region it’s located in. Instead of trying to make one style fit we use them all and in our society it works well. A lot of what is constructed today is reminiscent of the past styles and in a way we’ve used these styles to mean different things. Such as Federal buildings will usually have characteristics of the Greeks and Romans while Businesses today like the international and modernism to represent that they are on the cutting edge. In a way we use design to express the image we want to portray to others. Many times today people don’t even know the history behind the architectural details they just know they like the way the look and it’s as simple as that in today style of Mishmash Hodgepodge.

Lauren Fleming said...

Let's see....I'll call it Blah. It's Blah because a lot of it is generic and boring just because they have to get the building up quickly so that it can be utilized. Also it consists of a plethora of styles....so instead of calling it Classimodternational Arts I call it Blah. Oh, and it's becoming somewhat "green", but not. Blah stands for all of the crazy materials that are available. Today, you can chose from like 500 different materials for just a countertop. That's cool as far as design, but in no way is it green. Design seems to be limited in today's world because of the fast pace of society. You should never limit design. Limiting design hinders creativity thus yeilding a Blah society.

J Kan said...

Green Design, it sounds cheesy and overused especially in design colleges however it is the direction we are going. The idea of going green has grew from buying recycled paper and pencils to buying fuel cell automobiles and everything in between. Everyone is beginning to catch on; green is the new black. More and more products being designed are “going green.” This is not necessarily a good thing especially when advertisers and big companies catch on. They will use the green movement to their advantage. People will buy anything that’s green because it makes them feel better. They don’t have any idea if it actually is green or how much it helps or hurts the environment in the long run. Like a fuel efficient SUV... oxymoronic. Will green, sustainable, and cradle to cradle living ever catch on? Maybe…. But it’s mainly a lifestyle problem I think. People in America need to get it through their head that bigger is not better and more is less.

NBUSHdesign said...

The wheel spins…and spins…and spins…click.click.click..click..click…click….click…and the winner is:

OMNICONGLOMERATE!

FUNCTION: NOUN
ETYMOLOGY: ENGLISH, FROM OMNI- : all : universally omnidirectional , CONGLOMERATE : made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds

:DESIGN STYLE OF THE 1990S TO 2050 OF MASS MIXING OF STYLISTIC CHARACTERISTICS FROM PREHISTORY TO THE PRESENT UP TO 2050
:NO CLEAR, DEFINITE CHARACTERISTICS
:OFTEN NEW FORMS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN SEEN BEFORE
:INFLUENCE ON SUSTAINABILITY, ORIGINS OF GREEN DESIGN
:ANYTHING GOES

Synonyms likely to be used:
Mash-up
mix-up
no rules
no boundaries
full exploration
Innovation
New
Mess
Mass
Multi-incorporated

Megan Funk said...

I feel that most previous styles received their names in reference to a group, work of literature or other dominate influence. The influences of today seem to be, as we talked about in class, consumerism, sustainability, and the drive to keep up with those around us. When people look back at our time I believe that they will see it as a time when much advancement was made in the area of technology and even more importantly to us, in the design of these products. I think that it would be fair to say that today people care just as much about what a product looks like as what it does. For example, Apple’s I-pod is a popular mp3 player but is by no means the only one on the market. In fact, Microsoft has an mp3 player called a Zune that sells for the same price but has much more storage actually making it more economical. But at the same time it isn’t cute, it comes in three colors, but not the crisp, lively colors of the I-pod, instead in dark, opaque colors. And basically, even with more memory for less, I still wouldn’t buy one. Maybe our style should be named I-Style, or the I-Movement.
On the other hand we have been moving to the use of more natural products that will last longer and not be depleted so quickly. This movement, which seems to be in stark contrast to the rapid growth of technology and products that replace themselves multiple times in a year, focuses on using products that don’t harm the environment and use less energy. For this reason maybe the style should be named something with sustain or green in the title. Although, hopefully, there will always be “Green Design” or “Sustainable Design” so those titles would not be unique to our generation.

Melanie Ormerod said...

Hmmmm....lets see here i think i would have to call it money-mad sheep style. There are so many neighborhoods now a days that are constructed so fast that different styles and looks from house to house do not differ. contractors and designers are so fixated on the end prize, their pay, the money. so in order to get their money faster they make all the houses the same or really similar so the contractor workers know what to do since the building structure doesn't change much from house to house. Also, there are so many people that just follow what everyone else is doing like sheep. As soon as someting becomes in style, almost everyone seems to change what they "like" to whats in style which becomes their new "like".

Audrey said...

It is particularly difficult to characterize contemporary design. Things are often most clear in retrospect.
One professor deemed our current style as "pluralism" (many styles happening at one time). I must say that it was a brilliant analysis. However I do feel that there is a common thread that holds the fabric of our design generation together. Perhaps it is not something quite as simple as green design or avant-garde design. It is an intangible spirit that our generation exudes. As designers it is crucial for us to be mindful of zeitgeist. (What is zeitgeist? you ask). Zeitgeist is a German phase that roughly means "spirit of the times".
So how do we name our particular design generation? What is the spirit of our time? I do not feel equipt to ansure this question. My understanding of soceity is too limited.
Ask me again in a few years:)

Jenna said...

I think we’re in “the mix.” We are jumbling past styles together, uniting them, fusing them. And for some reason, this type of blend works. I’m seeing a harmonious connection between styles like those seen at the Palace of Versailles and those with a more modern feel. It’s a whole new look, and I feel that it’s growing. People are starting to understand that matchy-matchy is BORING. Who wants, for instance their home to look like a furniture showroom? Now that people are becoming less afraid to mix contemporary styles with pieces from the past, spaces are becoming more personal and offer a lot more character. This mix almost brings a quirky, fun quality, and is not so pretentious. It says design is fun and not about what matches. –Rather, design is being able to mix and apply all sorts of styles in a way that doesn’t feel jumbled, but instead makes sense. This “mix” that we are currently in is only successful when done that right way. Domino magazine, although it is a decorating magazine, is very successful at adequately portraying “the mix.” It’s so fresh, and although it blends the old and the new, it’s so current. Many times they incorporate very sleek designer pieces of today with things picked up at a yard sale or possibly a thrift store. This encourages reuse which of course is popular among those who practice sustainability.

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