Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I thought this image would be a good example from our discussion about consumerism and our 'throwaway culture.' What design opportunities are presented by this giant pile of 'trash?'

and what ideas does this image bring up about design?

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.’

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.