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?

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.