Monday, March 26, 2007

Emergence of European Modernism

European Modernism touched closer than Art Nouveau or Expressionism could with the human spirit in a mechanomorphic way that provided a geometric abstraction to classicism. People like Mackintosh carry over Arts and Crafts trends through the use of decorative arts in architecture, but in his work at the Glasgow school of Art, through stiff, severe rectilinear lines there is provided a sense of functionalist, abstract, modern look. And so it is true that in most buildings of this time that we see this popular manipulation of line to create harsh backdrops of lines pieced together to create rectilinear sculptures more than architecture. Hoffman and Loos with their pure symmetry countered themselves with one or two sweeping uses of a curve allowing for an added punch of modernist appeal. This appeal is derived from the controversial theory surrounding Loos and his ideas concerning ornament. "It is a crime, as stated in the 1908 Ornament and Crime, such as how a degenerate or criminal would tattoo himself". This coupled with the idea of cultural evolution being the elimination of items rendered unneeded helped spur the modernist theory as it it marched forward. Francois Hennebique, although not theoretically a major contributor to the idea of the modernist, developed for the movement a type of and material for construction. A widely used method still to this day, the slab-and-beam has a major role in how 20th century architecture was able to evolve and make use of engineering in this time of reaching for the impossible in height, function, and overall aesthetic in which modernist almost tried to abandon whilst all the while creating a new one.

Where do you think we'd be without decoration as the modernist so often enjoyed removing?
If not for ferroconcrete and slab-and-beam we may not have developed the ability to cover large expanses and such, what material and methods do you think spur today’s construction?

Trachtenberg/Hymen, 1986. Abrams, INC. Italy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Spread of Early Modernism in Europe

The Countries in Europe where democracy was able to thrive, such as the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Britain, is where Modernism was accepted and embraced. Flat roofs, smooth white walls, and large glass areas dominated the style. Also, as in Art Nuevo and Art Deco, there was an absence of historical and ornamental detail.
The designers of the time such as Mendelsohn, Dudok, and Mies van der Rohe focused on the functions of their designs, placing aesthetics second. They also prioritized their works by designing interior spaces first and molding the exterior around it.
The Modern era was defined as having an abstract and cubistic style. It was referred to as the “machine age” by Pile. The spread of Modernism in Europe happened in the years between World War I and World War II. With the uncertainties going on in Europe after World War II many of the designers escaped to the new world to spread Modernism in America. Think about if the designers had stayed in Europe and continued spreading modernism. How much different would Europe look now? Do you think other countries would have adopted the style once they became more democratic? Most importantly, would you want modernism to spread and why?

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.