Saturday, October 18, 2008

Modernism, part 1, B

Following the demise of Art Nouveau and the years right before World War I, a new style called Modernism slowly developed. Although French designers were not ready to give up the reputation for individuality and originality they had acquired through the years they were able to find new sources of inspiration. By looking to influences from contemporary paintings and sculptures, original adaptations of late eighteenth-century Neo-classical furniture design and fashion, as well as sensational entertainments in Paris such as the Ballets Russes, these designers were able to create a more bolder style than ever seen before. According to art historian Nancy Troy, “designers during this time seem to have consciously pursued a less ‘coordinated’ esthetic in which variety of color, texture, and shape mirror the disjointed character and hectic pace associated with the experience of modern urban life” (Raizman 146).
Along with finding new inspirations and influences Modernism is also credited for challenging designers in using new materials and techniques, such as interior furnishings and working with glass and metal (Raizman 147). An example of this can be seen in Armand Albert Rateau’s chaise lounge made of patinated bronze. This piece of furniture exemplifies characteristics that differ from the meandering curves of Art Nouveau.
With the examination of glass design on the rise designers were very interested in experimenting with a variety of techniques to permit individual and original expression in the medium (Raizman 148). A few of these techniques include “verre soufflĂ©” of “bubble glass”, the idea of etching with acid to achieve contrast and textured effects, and an enameling technique called “pate de verre”. Early French glassmakers drew their inspiration from Emile Galle by examining the imperfections and techniques previously used. An important early twentieth century glassmaker is Rene Lalique who was originally trained as a jeweler and is recognized as creating some of the most celebrated examples of Art Nouveau jewelry design. He later gave up his precious gems and began experimenting with glass, transforming the ordinary and inexpensive material into a highly original work. Lalique’s glass designs are now recognized and admired for their purity and brilliance (Raizman 149).
With experimentation playing a huge role in Modernism design, how do you think this style has impacted our current designs? Do you think that evidence of this style is still visible today? If so, where?

17 comments:

olivia said...

Modernism has greatly impacted our current designs. People appreciate the clean, straight lines more modern buildsing offer. These type of buildings give off a more "important" air. Most people oustide of the design world that you would ask would say that a building with too much ornamentation was "a little too overdone". Most buildings we see being constructed today, from fastfood restaurants to highrises, are being built with a modern sense in mind. The use of metal and glass is widely accepted today. Having modern utilities and conviences in buildings today make the space seem as if it is looking towards the future. In the end, that is exactly what a company wants to portray.

AinsleyW said...

I think Modernism paved the way for everyone trying something new. Coming straight out of eclecticism, when the only way to design anything was to imitate historical precedents, the experimentation and the 'newness' of modernism let designers do things that had never been done before. Still today when designers sit down to design a new chair or a new coffee mug they can disregard anything that has been done before and ask t.hemselves more abstract questions

Moore13 said...

Modernism today I think has a certain ora about it, in that we see today the sleek rectilinear lines in new buildings of importance and wealth. For example when driving in down town Cincinnati the buildings with the modern architecture are bank buildings, accounting firms, large powerful companies. The modern style has replaced the roman architecture that once represented power and strength. The same goes for residential design, the homes today that have that very up to date clean look are homes we see the wealthier living in. Modernism certainly has impacted current design but it has it's setting and place where it's appropriate as well.

Veronica said...

I believe that ever since designers stopped using heavy decorations and designs in interiors as well as exteriors, they created a whole new style that people and clients prefered.
Today especially, it is clear that people prefer more geometrical shapes, with a more rectilinear line quality, recalling Japanese prints and simplicity. Wether expanding vertically or horizontally, buildings and their interiors show less complexity and decorations than previous styles, in which technology plays a very important role.
I much rather prefer Modernism, not only for its simple, rectilinear quality, but also for the strong and close relationship between the design and the technology, intended not only as modern creations, but also as application of new materials and methods in constructing.
I believe that the styles before modernism shaped and led to this much simpler style which is appreciated and used still today. I believe Modernism will keep developing as new technology and experimentation will expand in their fields as well.

Parahita Rachmani said...

Today's society seems to have different vision on the interpretation of beauty and how arts and design symbolize certain qualities of human beings and aspects of life. I share Taylor's view on addressing that modern buildings focus on simplicity to show power and wealth rather than using ornamentation. Modernism supposedly follows Mies van der Rohe' "Less is more" design philosophy. For instance, if we see modern skyscrapers, such as the Sears Tower in Chicago, the use of materials of steel and glass and emphasis on the pure form of the building itself have been the approach that describes sophistication of a design as well as it shows power and authority. In addition, designing within simplicity also produces quite a bit of a challenge for modern designers since there is a fine line between being simple and being boring. Designers with simple style still have to create interest in design as well as to spark and awaken human senses when people interact with their design.

Meredith J. said...

I do think that Modernism definitely opened up new pathways and ideas that could be expanded upon and used and altered in years to come. You can see the small details of modernism today and it’s mainly in buildings that seem to psychologically hold a sense of power. In my city, you see more modern buildings in larger, nationwide corporations or new buildings on the campus of Centre College. Their new library may have Ancient Greek references, but on the inside there is an apparent use of glass and metals. It shows the conveniences of our times and showing that people these days are looking for a much more sleek and clean look/feel to their spaces.

Katie Bluhm said...

Experimentation is the key to new design. Without it, we would not learn about using different materials or techniques. The modernism style has impacted today’s products greatly. We are using new materials in unexpected ways to put an interesting modern twist on familiar forms. With the new green drive, it is extremely important to experiment and find new solutions to problems formed from the carelessness of past generations. We need to create products that are better for the environment, and we need to research and test different materials and techniques to do this. With all of this being said, we are definitely in a modernist movement today. We are seeing it all around us, in all aspects of life. This modernist movement is the Green Movement.

julie16o9 said...

Anyone can definately tell Modernism paved the way into where we are now and will continue to be going. Our style has definately changed from the curved lines and highly ornamented look to the sleek, sophisticated look of our time. All thanks to the experimentation we now have moved on from those old ways and adopted new. When constructing a building we not only now look at it's visual appeal but what goes into making it, and how we make it. I feel like we now design for the purpose of that structure rather than making buildings look like a piece of art or reflecting a specfic style.

Lindsey Calvin said...

I think modernism is still extremely prevalent today. I say this because now more than ever we have the extreme technology to experiment and create new materials to work with. Not only are we coming up with new materials but we are also always finding ways to use old materials for new techniques. Also design today is largely based on design from the past. We learn from previous architects and designers and use them for inspiration in order to create unique designs of our own. Art Nouveau and Modernism began a trend of designing something as a piece of art. Everyone wants their design to bigger and better than the competitor and wants to intrigue and visually stimulate the observer. I think also as a result of modernism we put greater emphasis on making both the interior and exterior of a home or building beautiful and we also focus on making the interior and exterior complement one another.

Chris Jones said...

Without experimentation, how would we ever have different motifs and forms? Experimentation is almost an expression of the designer's personality. The idea of "modern" in today's society is to be clean and crisp, not rambling and over-ornamented. I do agree that a more modern view of architecture is the straight light, because it is the most simple line. Modern design focuses on simplicity, not confusion (which to many could be the over-ornamentation of the past). Design tastes change as time goes on, so who's to say that in the future, we won't look to the past for inspiration? If you look at fashion [design], we see a return to old forms: tight-rolled jeans, 80's sunglasses, elaborate patterning, etc. This doesn't mean that architectural/interior design follows all other types of design, however. But even when you look at design turning "retro", it's a modification of old forms, not a mere duplication. I think that's the key: to modernize forms of the past.

Shannon S said...

Every bit of design history has helped shape current design. Experimentation is very important in every design process. Without experimenting with new materials, how are we to learn from our mistakes, or make new discoveries. Through this step in the design process we discover newer and possibily easier ways of going about something. Although we do see examples of the past show up in modern design, they are not usually the main focus. In design we are constantly searching for something new and unique by using the knowledge of past architects and designers. Although most buildings on campus relate in some way back to Greek times (through columns)(memorial hall) there is still an obvious use of the knowledge of glass.

Kelsey said...

Modernism brought about a cultural movement totally unlike design movement ever experienced before the 20th century. It was a total separation from historical precedent into something completely new and foreign. New knowledge and understanding of materials and science brought about many new designers, artists, architects, and others, who wanted to create in this simplified method. Designers of this period radically rejected traditional design in favor of totally abstracted and simplified compositions. This design theory obviously continues today and can be seen in most more current buildings, for example the totally bland Patterson office tower, Blanding and kirwin towers and the classroom building here on campus which are incredibly simplified buildings with little decoration (although they were built around the 70s). I believe today that modernism has not be replaced with a new movement, but rather expanded and grown. Although the movement does not have the same stylistic features as when it first originated, architecture, design and art in general still has the minimalist feel with roots in the Modernist Movement.

Meaghan Boenig said...

Ainsley brought up a good point: Modernism certainly created an opportunity for designers to make new things because it was the exact opposite of Eclecticism (imitating past styles). Modernism allowed designers to experiment and explore. Designers were no longer chained down; they were free to think creatively and in a way have some fun with design. The elements or characteristics of Modernism have definitely carried over into current designs; it is evident in the rectilinear line type, geometric shapes, minimal ornamentation, and the new construction materials that are used on many buildings today.

Sabrina said...

As I think back on our lectures in class, it's interesting that Modernism sprouted from an eclectic root. As we talked about in class last Thursday, Cret developed the Stripped Classicism style which was the last step before modernism. The Stripped Classicism style was the last step before modernism. The Stripped Classicism style was rooted in the heavy historicism of the climax of the Eclectic Period, the Beaux Arts Style. Therefore, the style so bitterly contested by modernists, the Beaux Arts style, was a direct ancestor of the Modern style. However, if we look to the past, we see that this is true of all design styles. History has affected us all in an infinite amount of ways and thus, the design cycle is also affected. Although we may be in a modernist world at the present time, who knows when that will change towards a colonial style, or a Victorian style? History is constantly moving, and no matter what we say, even those modernists who claim to be free of historical influence, we cannot NOT be affected. For example, Louis Sullivan, who attend the Beaux Arts Academy for several years before quitting in complete disapproval of the program, was still unconciously influenced by that Classical training in his Carson Pirie Scott Building. The curvilinear Art Nouveau aspect of the building was very heavy and this was because of the heaviness of his Beaux Arts training.

nicoLe said...

Modern design is certainly evident today. The machine makes most goods produced, with the help of assemblers in some cases. Buildings, however are most influenced by modernism. Its simplicity and elegance in so, is something that is in a sense timeless. "Less is more" is still today a concept that is seemingly well-known and is implemented mostly in structures, but we sure do not still see heavily ornamented interiors or goods.

Christa Mueller said...

Modernism is polar opposite to Victorianism, while at the same time, the two were traveling parallel paths though they started at opposite points. Victorian and Modernism are opposites in what they produced, yet both held the same precedent for innovation as well as a design influence on the common people. Like Victorian, Modernism was a retreat from historical influences. Both times were based upon the drive to be innovative. Contrasting to Victorian, Modernism was also a retreat from ornamentation. As I mentioned before, both periods were parallel in the fact that they held influence with the common. But both produced severely opposite philosophies. In most basic form. Modernism believed "less is more" while the Victorians followed the philosophy of "more, more, more!" Victorianism led the common people to believe that they could show their "quality" of being by showing that they had more and more things. For the upper class, this was achieved while still preserving quality of the pieces. But the common people were unable to achieve this "quality" because though they had more, in order to afford this they could not afford actually quality of the piece. Modernism, however, provided a solution for the common people so that they could achieve "quality" of life through style without having to lack in quality. This, "less is more" sensibility left a mark on the philosophy of design, style, and good taste in general. This philosophy is still continually practiced today and has been infused into all aspects of our culture.



“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein quotes

“A vocabulary of truth and simplicity will be of service throughout your life”
- Winston Churchill quotes

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
- Henry David Thoreau quotes

“Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.”
- Frank Lloyd Wright

Amy Clark said...

Modernism in design is still evident today as the goal of design is to create and not duplicate the past. This evident in our design program at UK. Experimentation is key to this process; designers strive to find new ways to use materials or even new building methods. This is especially true with the current focus on green design. I think this method of creativity is much more beneficial to society than just replicating, on some level, what has been done in the past. It allows people the freedom to think outside of the box.

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.