Sunday, November 2, 2008

Art Deco and Industrial Design A

After the war, the United States’ history of modern design could not be discussed without mentioning the importance of advertising. That time after the war was considered a “culture of consumption.” (Raizman 223) Everyone was excited about the new technological advances and how the mass production of products was helping their economy; but word of the mouth wasn’t enough. There’s where the world of advertisements came into play. Tools that were used to help “spread the word” were things such as photography, layout and typography on things such as posters to visually communicate their products efficiently and effectively. These advertisements were to build and strengthen the companies and their key products. The advertisements themselves were depicted in terms of the product being used in a more upscale setting, like a nice Model T car being driven to go watch a polo match or a golf tournament. They were to show the products being used in everyday leisurely activities and how they could be used while living the “good life.” Such advertisements could be seen in mass-circulated magazines such as The Ladies Home Journal.

Advertisers believed that the purpose of such advertisements was to sell the company’s products and that reference to the individual artists or to the works of art focused attention upon the ad as an “object” rather than as a promotion product (Raizman 225). Here, we saw a switch from photography used as a form of advertisement device to a form of journalism; capturing the use of the product as everyday people used it on a regular basis. Art directors turned to photographic reproduction for it “objective” truth and its visual impact.

Did all these new advertisement ploys seem to create a new visual culture in the US? If so, can this still be seen in today’s society? Do you think that the advertisers originally used the portrayal of the “good life” to show how they wanted their products to be used? Do you think that advertisements today tend to show products used in a more everyday sense or used in a more upscale, exclusive manner?

11 comments:

olivia said...

Yes, I do think advirtisements created a visual culture in the US. At that time, the process of advirtising was a new idea that most people were just being exposed to. The art of selling a product through visual means opened up an entire new means of spreading information about a good. People were having to think outside of the box to create new ideas they thought would appeal to the masses. This can still be seem in society today. You can't drive down a street or watch television without being faced with countless ads for different products. We are faced with advirtisements over the radio, on the internet and going to restaurants. During the art deco and industrial design era, the advirtisements showed "the good life" through the use of their products. I think designers used this ploy to get people to envision how easy and luxurious their life could be if people bought their product. With advirtising today, most ads are aiming at showing their products in everyday use. Advirtisers want people to truly see how their product would fit into their lives. Showing the everyday side helps people to feel as if they have a reason to buy the product. You can show a high-end washer and dryer in middle-class home with mom getting all of her kids laundry done and soccer stains removed quickly and efficiently. You could also show the same washer and dryer in an upscale apartment in New York doing the same thing. But both advirtisements say something different. Most people relate better to a middle-class lifestyle and would consider that product more than a lifestyle they think is only for the elite.

Parahita Rachmani said...

Advertisements certainly allowed people to visually capture what their lives might have been like by using the product. Customers were more likely to see and value the products more since the presentation of "the good life" portrayed how these products would have helped people to carry on with their activities on daily basis. Until today, advertisement has become one of the tools that people rely on to get ideas on what kind of goods they need to choose and purchase to assist their everyday living. However, advertisement tended to exaggerate the qualities of the products more than it needed to be in order to influence and convince people to buy the products. Some products worked well for certain customers while some did not. The positive thing about advertisement was that it was not only limited for the elite. The middle class was also able to access these goods through these advertisements.

Sara Watson said...

The new advertising ploys did create a visual culture. People began relying on ads instead of word of mouth to buy their products. It is very much the same today. I think the advertisers used the "good life" to make people think the products were higher quality and not so much about how to use them. They wanted people to associate their products with a better life. Advertisements today use both everyday life and upscale depending on their products. Household cleaning supplies are usually shown being used in a middle class home. Cars and clothing are shown at a more upscale manner. This is so people think that they will be more upscale if they buy the product.

maggie clines said...

Over the years, advertisement and the use of photography have increase and become one of the main visual components of our time. The amount of photographs seen by the everyday person is around 32 fresh ads in 24hrs (WikiAnswers.com). I feel that photographs and ads have such a large impact on the way people in our country view things. For instance, the way women are portrayed in the media and ads, influence how young girls believe their body should be. This refers to how in the early development of advertisement and photos tended to portray the “good life” or the ideal life. This unfortunately has not changed over time, we still look to the ideals in ads and hope and also believe that that is what we should work towards.

carrie w said...

All of these new advertisement ploys did create a new visual culture. It changed the way people saw themselves and others. Everyone wanted to be like the people they saw in these images and did whatever they could to buy those products. This is definitely still seen in society today. It is seen everywhere. When you flip through the mail or even walk down the street and look up at a billboard or in a store front window. I believe they use the portrayal of "the good life" in order to make people want to live that life rather than a way to use the products. It was a persuasive way to make things look pleasing. Today i believe that advertisements are split in the way they portray things. On one side of the picture there is the luxury aspect where everything is very upscale and classy. And on the other half there is a whole market dedicated to the average household and ways of making things affordable.

Jessica Brake said...

When advertising for a product the main goal is to make it look appealing and attractive so people want to buy it. This process usually means ‘up scaling’ it or making the products appear more glamorous and more of a necessity than they really are. These advertisement ploys that were used towards the end and after the Great Depression helped stimulate America in spending money again. I don’t think the advertiser’s actual intentions were to show their products being used in the “good life”, but more or less to make them more appealing and attractive to their buyers. We still see this in today’s advertisements too, like in designer clothing advertisements, perfume, cars, etc. These advertisements show their products on wealthy, famous, or the upscale elite persons sending a subliminal message that if you have these products you will be wealthy or famous.

Veronica said...

I believe that today's commercials are purely used for marketing purposes, and in order to sell they show these new products in a more upscale, exclusive manner.
I also think that advertisement at its first appearences in history as well showed products in a more upscale manner.
Advertising whether in the format of posters, pictures in magazines and newspaper, videos in television or audio on the radio, has always marketed products as if they would change people's lives.
If we take as an example some posters of the beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries, they emphasize the luxury and prestige someone would get when buying such product. The images are rich in colors and decorations and promote the product's aesthetics rather than usage. When analyzing a poster, let's say one of a car such as Ford or Fiat, the poster usually emphasizes the shiny materials and finishes applied to the car, usually with a woman reflecting herself off the front of the car, and the text advertising the product as NEW, FOR EVERYONE, LUXURIOUS and ELEGANT. Who wouldn't buy after seeing such a poster?
I believe that today's advertising is not much different, and it influences our society in manner such that we buy purely for the aesthetics and belief of what we could be if we purchased a certain product. Companies can today be sure that attractive and exciting advertising will get their products to be sold.
The early advertising ploys did create a visual culture, and keep on selling products nationwide.

Molly Rowland said...

When the advertising world was introduced into the US, a different response to products was created. This response was a visual one. Before this time people were unable to view the various things being sold to them. Therefore, there was certainly much more hesitation in purchasing goods.
Advertising took into consideration the strong affect that visualization has on people. With a picture in their minds, people now knew what they were receiving, and therefore, were more inclined to buy different products.
Overall, products were now given an identity, which made them relatable and comfortable to consumers. This feeling of relatability was exactly why products were displayed in scenes portraying the "good life." It was what people longed for and in result, consumers were comfortable with allowing these various products into their lives.

Elizabeth Chaffin said...

Naturally, humans are attracted to items through visuals, thus stimulating the minds and triggering such reactions as consumption, wants, and needs. This psychological effect is subconscious and advertisers know and employ this to sell their products. Advertising products in a certain lifestyle of carefree and luxurious lifestyles really affect the consumer. It puts into perspective how life could be if this certain item was purchased and used. It's not necessary that the consumer themselves will be living this life, but the idea that it is a possibility is one that appeals to all. It isn't necessary that certain products all be advertised in this manner, however. If it is known that a certain class will be the primary target of the advertising, the product may be seen in an advertised in an environment that would be similar or suit that target market. Its just the fact that the visuality of the advertisement hit where it will mostly be used, in order to be successful, which has always been the goal since the advancement in advertisement.

Julie said...

Unfortunately, advertisements most of the time do send the wrong message. The way they are appealed to people is normally in the wrong way or exaggerated. Trying to sell something should be the distributor showing the product realistically but yet they play the product up or play off the product to make it more appealling. Consumers play into the lies that are put onto the product when the truth is that the advertising just gives false hope. Why do we accept this? Why would we be so blind as to look to the advertisment rather than the product and the truth in whats really being sold? Advertisment does have it's advantages though. Without it we would never be able to spread messages or news which would not be effective in informing everyone. Even though some advertising give false ideas it still makes consumers aware of what's out there and going on which keeps growth and change to occur.

J_Ayares said...

The new advertisements of the Art Deco period definitely created a new visual culture in the U.S. Before, written record of products was used merely to showcase the item in a more informative sense. Persuasion to buy it wasn't really a factor. However, this changed drastically in the period following the Great Depression. Advertisements were used in an attempt to capture what peoples' lives would be like if they used the product, which was meant to persuade them that their lives would somehow be improved by it. This was a definite portrayal of "the good life," as companies that had previously been struggling wanted people to start buying their products. The way to achieve that was to convince the public that their lives would improve by using the product. This idea is still very prevalent in advertisements today. Most advertisements are geared toward the general public. With today's economy, there is strong focus on items that will save the buyer time/money, while still benefiting them in some way, such as style, function, etc. However, while most advertisements focus on treating items as "necessities," a few still cater to a more elite group and advertise their products as more luxury goods. This is especially true in certain types of cars, such as BMW or Lexus, that have traditionally been geared toward a more upsacale group.

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.