Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I personally believe that the Victorian area was not as aesthetically pleasing as other periods. The cluttered rooms as well as the darkness from the textiles being used created a very gloomy atmosphere. However, I think it is hard to argue that the decor was not successful for the time because people were so proud to actually own and display the personal "stuff" that was becoming available at this time. I favor the American take on Victorian style over that of England's. It seems to be a bit more conservative and free of clutter which allows for the actual style of this era to be seen.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Victorian Era

The Industrial Revolution created a new society, and its impacts have affected everything since, including the Victorian Era. This era brought on an concept of 'codes' that the upper class and upcoming middle class had to hold. This included the idea of what women were supposed to do, how the house was managed, and how the house should be decorated. The ornate detail of homes and rich fabrics were used to represent how well off the upper class was. The middle class was rising and they also used these decorations to display their wealth and power.The homes during the Victorian Era were becoming larger, more complex, and spatially designed. The house was designed around specific tasks, designated areas for men, women, children, and servants, and into public and private areas. This allowed for more rooms in the house, which resulted in more decoration of those rooms.
The decorations that filled these improved homes were made of many different materials, made available for use from the Industrial Revolution. These materials included newly usable wrought and cast iron for chairs, larger sheets of plate glass for windows, and large sheets of fabric for curtains and chair upholstery. Every room was covered in ornate and detailed decoration. Not only were the rooms decorated in this manner, but the walls, ceilings and floors were as well, with wallpaper, plaster, and parquet. (History of Interior Design and Furniture, Blakemore.)
The Victorian Era was also a time of somewhat conflicting styles; traditional and Gothic Revival. This Gothic revival was led by A. W. N. Pugin, who wrote books showing the significance of the Gothic style, reflected through Catholicism. The traditional style was the more common of the two during this period, which reflected on past styles.
After reflecting on the Victorian Era house, from the spacial planning to decorations, how do you think it was impacted and/or changed by the Industrial Revolution?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Victorian Era_A

The Victorian Era was highlighted by organic carvings and ornamentation covering as much surface as possible. Even the middle class could afford to clutter their homes with decoration. With the implication of mass production, merchandise were produced much quicker and cheaper, allowing the lower income homes to be able to afford to decorate. As much “stuff” went into middle class homes, even more went into upper class homes to the point of which it makes you wonder how they even got around in their own homes. Especially considering light could barely penetrate the room through the many layers of thick curtains and blinds onto the dark walls of the interior. As you can see in the image to the left, the dark floral wallpaper and the vibrant colors of the cluttered furniture makes the space very busy and therefore interpreted as affluent.

This ostentatious display of decoration was associated with wealth, so the English of the Victorian Era crammed their homes with furniture, knickknacks, and luxury items, such as pianos, to show their refinement and taste. Homes were not the only element they enhanced to demonstrate their wealth. The Victorian’s attire was also exaggerated, which actually had an effect on interior spaces. The wide bell skirts required a wider seat and even staircases were widened to accommodate the style of clothing in the Victorian Era.

England was not the only country to embrace the design ideology of the Victorian era. Most of the styles that came out of England were influential all over, specifically in the United States. However, America did not take on quite as much of the organic quality of the English Victorian style, but refined the style into a more straight forward, controlled look. In the translation of the Victorian Era to America, some of the creativity, vitality, and the fluid quality of the style was lost.

Some Critics argue that the Victorian Era marks a low point in design as far as aesthetic quality and taste is concerned. The abundance of ornamentation can be viewed as gaudy and tasteless to some. Do you agree that the Victorian era was a low point in design or was the style aesthetically successful? Also, do you feel as though the way in which America interpreted or refined the style was an improvement or a step back?

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.