Product Design Genre's from the
19th Century until today
The following page is produced with the goal to help loudspeaker
companies produce products with style which can increase sales.
This page has overviews for each significant product design style since
the beginning of mass manufactured products, in historical order.
Images illustrate each section.
An attempt is made to provide each genre's antecedentsand influences on later genres.
Product Design is a subset of VISUAL ARTS. Thus the genre's listed
are visual-arts genre's. US Enclosure's viewpoint is that a
product design decision is a loudspeaker company's decision based upon
the preferences of target markets. US Enclosure also believes that
extending corporate image into product lines is a sensible idea that
helps differentiate your products from the competition. US
Enclosure knows this can occur with manufacturing costs very similar to
current costs and with cabinet walls that match the performance of your existing products.
Many of the Genre's and their time periods overlap. This page uses the earliest occurrence for sorting order. Content correction emails are encouraged for US Enclosure to produce and post more accurate representations.
The Genre's detailed are based upon the fact that many product and
industrial designers also were architects as both fields are part of visual arts. "Today
industrial design is functionally motivated and follows the same principles as
modern architecture". The idea of accessible, mass-produced design that is
affordable to anyone was not only applied to industrial mechanics, but also to
the aesthetics of architecture and furniture.
US Enclosure desires that loudspeaker companies use this information as a reference and tool for creative product design.
When mass production with interchangeable parts was adopted, the prevalent design styles were:
Way Back, before 19th Century
Mass Production, a product design style was prominent called Neo-Classicial (
think White House and US Capitol ). As a reaction a new style named
Neo-Gothic occurred looking to regain the beauty of Gothic middle age
designs. As a sidebar, Neo-Gothic was also a reaction to the
Neo-Classic visual art’s subjective relationship with Democracy. A
few designers using mass manufacturing saw a way to take Neo-Gothic,
strip off it’s costly flourishes, and retain the basic design.
Strangely enough, it was the basis of Arts and Crafts… which was a
reaction to both Neo-Gothic and Neo-Classical with a tilt toward
Neo-Gothic’s handmade feeling but without details hard to mass
So this article
starts in the time period between 1830 – 1860 when American Mass
Manufacturing techniques, the American Shakers stripped-down design
which also worked well for mass manufacturing, and the Arts and
Crafts genre’s appreciation for handmade looking products
Precursors: Before Mass Manufacturing, product designers generally were also the company owner.
noteworthy precursor to product design is the Pitkin Watch, a USA based 1830’swatch manufacturer.The
were craftsman and designers that formulated a mass production method to
produce watches. Thus a design was carefully thought-out as the
design was fixed for a production run.
foundational style is the USA Shaker Furniture Genre, which is very
minimalistic instead of craftsman-ornate. Either directly or
indirectly, the Shaker style was also used as a basis by many of the genre's
detailed in this article.
furniture is a
distinctive style of furniture developed by 1818 by the Shakers, a religious
sect that had guiding principles of simplicity, utility and honesty. Their beliefs were reflected
well-made furniture of minimalist designs.Furniture was made thoughtfully, with
functional form and proportion. Rather than using ornamentation — such as inlays, carvings, metal
pulls, or veneers — which was seen as prideful or deceitful, they
developed "creative solutions such as asymmetrical drawer arrangements and
multipurpose forms to add visual interest.By the 1860’s
a core business for the Shaker communitywas the production of well-made "ladder" back or turned post
chairs. The minimalist design and woven seats were fast and easy to
produce.Arts and Crafts
beginning in the late 1800’s, Bauhaus in 1919 Germany, and Modernists in the
1920s and beyond all were workingthe same
principals the internationally well-known Shakers used 100 years
earlier in the
Arts and Crafts (1860-1910) The first
recognized global “Product Design movement” began around 1860 in the UK.It’s roots were in part a reaction
against the very common ornate Gothic revival design style and the predominant eclectic historical revival design styles.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
(1861–1875) was a Arts and Crafts design and furnishings and decorative
arts manufacturer and retailer founded by the artist and designer
William Morris with friends. Located in London, the company and it's successor Morris & Co. existed until 1940.
Arts and Crafts Prairie School USA Starting
about 1892, An attempt at developing an indigenous North American style
of visual arts that did not share design elements and aesthetic
vocabulary with earlier styles of European classical visual arts.
The terms American
Craftsman, Craftsman style and Prairie School are often used to
denote the style of visual arts, interior design, and decorative arts that
prevailed between the dominant eras of Art Nouveau and Art Deco in the USA,
approximately the period from 1910 to 1925. The
Prairie School visual artists influenced subsequent visual arts idioms,
particularly the Minimalists (less is more) and Bauhaus (form follows
function), which was a mixture of De Stijl (grid-based design) and
Constructivism (which emphasized the structure itself and the building
The most famous proponent of the style,
Frank Lloyd Wright, promoted an idea of "organic visual arts", the
primary tenet of which was that a structure should look as if it naturally grew
from the site. Wright also felt that a horizontal orientation was a distinctly
American design motif, in that the younger country had much more open,
undeveloped land than found in most older, urbanized European nations.
Aesthetic was a major contributor to the allied Anglo-Japanese or Modern English style.
6 years after Arts and Crafts was born a different design genre
started which needs to be mentioned as it profoundly influenced Arts and
Crafts at the beginning of it's history and also was philosophically
related to the Shakers. Aesthetics's thinking was that the primary element of Visual Art is utility; Visual art must first have utility but may also be beautiful.
Production of Aesthetic style visual arts products was limited to approximately the late 19th century and is characterized by several common themes: Ebonized wood with gilt highlights, Far Eastern influence, Prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginkgo leaves, and peacock feathers, Blue and white on porcelain and other fine china.
Art Nouveau (1890-1910)
The Child of Arts
and Crafts Art Nouveau is an art style
particularly for decorative arts. Unlike Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau
artists readily used new materials, machined surfaces, and abstraction in the service
of pure design. Art Nouveau is considered a "total" art style,
embracing visual arts, graphic art, interior design, etc as the fine arts.
According to the philosophy of the style, art should be a way of life. For many
well-off Europeans, it was possible to live in an Art Nouveau inspired house
with Art Nouveau furniture, silverware, fabrics, ceramics including tableware,
jewellery, cigarette cases, etc. Artists desired to combine the fine arts and
applied arts, even for utilitarian objects. Although Art Nouveau was
replaced by 20th-century Modernist styles, it is now considered as an important
transition between the eclectic historic revival styles of the 19th century and
Modernism. One description described it as "sudden violent curves generated
by the crack of a whip" with hyperbolas and parabolas with grow into
By the start of World War I, however, the stylized nature of Art Nouveau
design—which was expensive to produce—began to be disused in favor of more
streamlined, rectilinear Modernism, which was cheaper to produce and thought to be more
faithful to the plainer industrial aesthetic that was the root of Art Deco.
An offshoot of Art Nouveau, with the earliest example dating to 1888, is Modernisme
primarily with Catalonia and Barcelona, Spain. Also known as the Plastic Arts.
Lizard sculpture dates from 1888 (Right)
designs predating 20th Century Modernism seem to also preanticipate a
180 degree reaction to Modernism by using a modernized and extremely
decorative Neo-Gothic design style.
View upward inside the Churchpictured (above)
Deutscher Werkbund (1907-1938)
Founded in 1907, the Deutscher Werkbund (German
Association of Craftsmen) was a German association of artists, architects,
designers, and industrialists. The Werkbund was to become an important event in
the development of modern visual arts and industrial design, particularly in
the later creation of the Bauhaus school of design. Its initial purpose was to
establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to
improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets. The Werkbund
was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate
traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to putGermany on a competitive footing with England and the
founded in 1907, was to become an important event in the
development of modern industrial design, particularly in the later
creation of the Bauhaus school of design. Its initial purpose was to
establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design
professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in
MODERNISM is not broken out separately in this Design Article as
Functionalism and/or Modernism are an Element either de-emphasized or
emphasized in all Product Designs.
A Decent Functionalist
Functionalist Loudspeaker Design
Deutscher Werkbund and Architect Louis Sullivan ( the father of Modernism ) subscribed to the Design Concept named Form Follows Function,
also the immediate theory underlying Modernism and Functionalism
design, and historically the basis of most of design categories featured
this page. Even Novelist Ann Rand took notice of Sullivan and based her novel The Fountainhead on Sullivan.
Want to read more of the Designer Louis Sullivan that created Modernism and Functionalism? Sullivan, an American designer which literally,
since the 1880's, initialized the world's concept of Product Design . Sullivan's details are located in
our American Product Design Webpage.
Expressionism, a style abstract in nature and characterized by an early-modernist adoption of novel materials, formal
innovation, and very unusual massing, sometimes inspired by natural
biomorphic forms, sometimes by the new technical possibilities allowing
expression of distortion, fragmentation or the communication of violent
or overstressed emotion
Both Arts And Crafts and Art Nouveau influenced
Expressionism. The concurrent Futurist and Constructivist visual
arts genre's, and the DADA anti-art style often contained
similar features. However, Futurism and Constructivism emphasized
mechanization and urbanism
Expressionism features include:
1. Distortion of form for an emotional effect.
2. Subordination of realism to symbolic or stylistic expression of inner experience.
3. An underlying effort at achieving the new, original, and visionary.
4. Often hybrid solutions, irreducible to a single concept.
5. Themes of natural romantic phenomena, such as
caves, mountains, lightning, crystal and rock formations; thus it's
more mineral and elemental than florid and organic
by its close contemporary Art Nouveau.
6. Uses creative potential of artisan craftsmanship.
7. Tendency more towards the gothic than the
classical. Expressionist visual arts also tends more towards the
romanesque and the rococo than the classical.
8. Though a European genre, expressionism is as
eastern as western. It draws as much from Moorish, Islamic, Egyptian,
and Indian visual arts as from Roman or Greek.
9. Conception of visual arts as a work of art.
The exploration of psychological effects of form and space was
undertaken by visual artists in their project. Expressionism focused on
the Sublime form of the five primary aesthetic forms: the beautiful,
the sublime, the tragic, the ugly, and the comic. The experience
of the sublime was supposed to involve a self-forgetfulness where
personal fear is replaced by a sense of well-being and security when
confronted with an object exhibiting superior might.
The New Objectivity genre arose in direct opposition to Expressionism. By 1925 most of the leading Expressionists had turned
toward the New Objectivity genre, a more practical and matter-of-fact
approach which rejected the emotional agitation of Expressionism.
Art Deco shares some characteristics of Expressionism and is likely to
have been influenced directly by the Expressionist's -
particularly via the activities of the Bauhaus. United States examples
of Art Deco can be seen as a Transatlantic equivalent of European
Expressionism. The International style was influenced by Expressionism
and an evident influence exists in Deconstructionism and the Organic
In the post WW2 period, a variant of Expressionism named Brutalism had an
honest approach to materials, that in its unadorned use of concrete. The designs of Le
Corbusier took a turn for the Expressionist in his Brutalist phase. Another mid-century modern
architect that evoked Expressionism was Eero Saarinen such as his 1962 TWA
Terminal at JFK International Airport with an Organic form. More recently,
the aesthetics and tactility of Expressionist visual arts have found
echo in the works of Enric Miralles, most notability his Scottish
Parliament building, Deconstructionist visual artists such as Zaha Hadid and
Daniel Libeskind, as well as Canadian Aboriginal visual artist Douglas
designates what the future world should be, not necessarily what the
future world would be. Futurism emphasized speed, technology, youth and
violence and objects such as the car, the airplane and the industrial city; the
technological triumph of humanity over nature.Futurism also is characterized that the perceived world
is in constant movement using by strong chromaticism, long dynamic lines,
suggesting speed, motion, urgency and lyricism, and the use of technologically
advanced materials. Futurists practiced in every medium of visual
art, including , industrial design, interior design, urban design,
to the formation of Futurism's artistic style when founded in Italy.To some extent Futurism influenced the visual
arts with Art Deco, Constructivism, Surrealism, and DADA.
Nonetheless the ideals of Futurism
remain as significant components of modern Western culture; the emphasis on
youth, speed, power
and technology finding expression in much of modern
commercial cinema and culture. Ridley Scott consciously evoked the designs of
Sant'Elia in Blade Runner.Echoes of Marinetti's thought,
especially his "dreamt-of metallization of the human body", are still
strongly prevalent in Japanese culture, and surface in manga/anime and the
works of artists such as Shinya Tsukamoto, director of the "Tetsuo"
(lit. "Ironman") films. Futurism has produced several reactions,
including the literary genre of cyberpunk—in which technology was often treated
with a critical eye—whilst visual artists who came to prominence during the
first flush of the Internet, such as Stelarc and Mariko Mori, produce work
which comments on Neo-Futurist ideals in which technology is considered a driver
to a better quality of life and sustainability values.
After World War II, Futurism was
considerably weakened and redefined itself thanks to the enthusiasm towards the
Space Age, the Atomic Age, the car culture, and the wide use of plastic. For
example, this trend is found in the visual arts of Googies in the 1950s in
In the early 21st century,
Neo-Futurism has been launched by innovation designer Vito Di Bari with his
vision of “cross-pollination of visual art and cutting edge technology for a
better world” applied to the project of the city of Milan at the time of the
Universal Expo 2015.
DADA (1915 - 1924)
The roots of DADA lay in pre World War 1 avant-garde. Cubism was a source as well
as general abstractionism which detached the genre from the constraints of
reality and convention.The genre was heavily involved in the visual
arts. The beginning of
DADA was, soon after arriving from France in 1915, Marcel Duchamp and Francis
Picabia met American artist Man Ray. By 1924 in Paris, DADA was melding into
Surrealism, and visual artists had gone on to other ideas including
Surrealism, Social Realism and other forms of Modernism. Some theorists argue
that DADA was actually the beginning of Postmodern visual art.This International-style genre was begun by a group of visual
artists and poets associated with the Cabaret Voltaire and DADA in Zurich. DADA rejected
reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition.
developed largely out of the DADA
activities during World War I and the most
important center of the style was Paris. From the 1920s onward,
Surrealism spread around the globe, eventually affecting the visual arts
of many countries.The aim was to
"resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and
reality." Visual artists produced unnerving, illogical scenes with
photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects. Salvador Dalí is one
of the best known surrealist artists. During WW2
Abstract Expressionism itself grew directly out of the meeting of American
(particularly New York) visual artists with European Surrealists self-exiled during
"The Style" was a Dutch visual arts genre that advocated pure
abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and color
bysimplifying visual compositions to the vertical and
horizontal directions, and used only primary colors along with black and white.
De Stijl was influenced by Cubist genre as well as by the mysticism and the
ideas about "ideal" geometric forms (such as the Golden Rectangle and
the "perfect straight line") found in the neoplatonic philosophy of
mathematician M. H. J. Schoenmaekers. The De Stijl style was also
influenced by Neopositivism. The works of De Stijl would influence the Bauhaus style
and the international style of visual arts as well as clothing and interior
& Soviet (1930-1985)
Constructivism was a visual arts genre that originated in
Russia beginning in 1919 and was in favor of visual art as a practice for social purposes.
Constructivism had a great effect on visual art's Modern styles of the 20th
century, influencing major trends such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl. Its
influence was pervasive, with major impacts upon visual arts, graphic and
industrial design. Constructivism was a post-World War I development of
Russian Futurism. Constructivist s also showed a willingness to involve themselves in
fashion and the mass market, which they tried to balance with their Communist
Note: The Soviets tended to, as shown above, poorly copy (without
internationally recognized required legal compensation [ stealing]) products found in the west, both industrial,
commercial, and consumer, thus the product design many times reflected
the piece they took. The Soviets designers were allowed to only
use only time-tested, conservative western designs and did not dare
change the product’s look. Thus, with some exceptions, the best
examples of Soviet product design are found in basic consumer goods such
as kitchenware, furniture, etc. Socialism produces stagnant designs which at best like with Scandinavian Design are a positive refinement of existing ideas.
Post Constructivism was a daughter genre was born by socialist terror and devolved into Stalinist neoclassical shapes without neoclassical detailing. Early
Stalinism or Post Constructivism merged closely with Soviet adaptations
Deco. Some examples
of Soviet Art Deco, like the 1934 Lenin Library by Vladimir Shchuko, may be
mistaken for Post Constructivism. Stalinist visual design also
referred to as Stalinist
Empire style or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to visual arts of
the Soviet Union under the leadership of Joseph Stalin, between 1933,
when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets
was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned
of the past decades and disbanded the Soviet Academy of visual arts.
rejected Constructivism. Stalinist visual arts is associated with the Socialist Realism school of visual arts. The
interaction of the state with the designers would prove to be one of the
features of this time. The same product design could be declared a formalist
blasphemy and then receive the greatest praise the next year.
Soviet version of Art
The Bauhaus was
first founded by Walter Gropius in Germany. In spite of its name, and the fact that its
founder was an architect, the Bauhaus during the first years of its existence
did not have an visual arts department. Nonetheless, it was founded with the
idea of creating a "total" work of art in which all arts, including
visual arts, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style later
became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist visual
arts and art, design and visual arts education. The Bauhaus had a profound
influence upon subsequent developments in visual arts, graphic design, interior
design, industrial design, and typography.
Art Deco (1920-1942)
Originally known until nearly 1970 as "Art Moderne" and with it's streamlined forms was regarded as futuristic when it was popular during the
1920s and 1930s. Art Deco has a huge debt to Futurism.
Art Deco is an influential visual arts design genre that first
appeared in France just before World War Iand began flourishing internationally
in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after World War II. Art Deco was
heavily influenced by pre-modern art from around the world. Artists and designers integrated motifs from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Asia, Mesoamerica and Oceania with Machine Age elements. Art Deco was also
influenced by Cubism, Constructivism, Functionalism, Modernism, and Futurism.
Art Deco was globally popular and affected many areas of design. It was used widely in
consumer products such as automobiles, furniture, cookware, china, textiles,
jewelry, clocks, and electronic items such as radios, telephones, and jukeboxes. It also
influenced visual arts, interior design, industrial design, fashion, graphic arts, and cinema. During the
1930s, Art Deco was used extensively for public works projects, railway stations,ocean liners (including the Île de France, Queen Mary, and Normandie), movie palaces, and amusement parks.
It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craftmotifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The genre is often
characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes and
lavish ornamentation. Art Deco emphasizes geometric forms: spheres, polygons,
rectangles, trapezoids, zigzags, chevrons, and sunburstmotifs. Elements are often arranged
in symmetrical patterns. Modern materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, Bakelite, chrome, and plastics are frequently
used. Stained glass, inlays, and lacquer are also common. Colors tend
to be vivid and high contrast. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This
distinguishes Art Deco from the organicmotifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau. During its
heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamor, exuberance and faith in social
and technological progress.
Art Deco as
"an assertively modern style [that] ran to symmetry rather than asymmetry,
and to the rectilinear rather than the curvilinear; it responded to the demands
of the machine and of new material [and] the requirements of mass
A style related
to Art Deco is Streamline Moderne (detailed below) , which emerged during the
mid-1930s. Streamline Moderne was influenced by modern aerodynamic principles developed for aviation and ballistics to reduce
air friction at high velocities. Designers applied these principles to cars,
trains, ships, and even objects not intended to move, such as refrigerators, gas pumps, and buildings.
One of the
first production vehicles in this style was the Chrysler Airflow of 1933. It was unsuccessful commercially, but
the beauty and functionality of its design set a precedent.
quickly influenced automotive design and evolved the rectangular "horseless carriage" into sleek vehicles with aerodynamic
lines, symmetry, and V-shapes. These designs continued to be popular after World War II.
New Objectivity (1920-1933)
Rooted in Deutscher Werkbund, New Objectivity was a turn towards practical
engagement with the world—an all-business attitude, understood by Germans as
intrinsically American. Many Bauhaus practitioners veered into and developed this genre. Leading up to World War II, much of the visual art professions were under the influence of
Futurism and Expressionism, both of which abandoned any sense of order or
commitment to objectivity or tradition. Expressionism was in particular the
dominant form of visual art in Germany, and it was represented in many different
facets of public life—in dance, in theater, in painting, in visual arts, as well as in
poetry and literature.
Expressionists abandoned nature
and sought to express emotional experience, often centering their work around
inner turmoil (angst), whether in reaction to the modern world, to alienation
from society, or in the creation of personal identity.
A style related
to Art Deco is Streamline Moderne (or Streamline) or Art
Moderne, is a late type of the Art Decovisual arts and design which emerged during the
mid-1930s. The first streamline visual arts evolved from the work
of New Objectivity genre, a style connected
to the German Werkbund.
Moderne was both a reaction to Art Deco and a reflection of austere economic
times; Sharp angles were replaced with simple, aerodynamic curves. Exotic woods
and stone were replaced with cement and glass. Americans saw a
new aspect of Art Deco—i.e., streamlining, a concept first conceived by industrial designers who stripped Art Deco design of
its ornament in favor of the aerodynamic pure-line concept of motion and speed
developed from scientific thinking. Cylindrical forms and long horizontal
windowing also may be influenced by Constructivism. Streamline Moderne was very influenced by modern aerodynamic principles developed for aviation and ballistics to reduce
air friction at high velocities. Designers applied these principles to cars,
trains, ships, and even objects not intended to move, such as clocks, radios, telephones, furniture, refrigerators and many other household
appliances embraced the concept as well as gas pumps, and buildings.Its visual arts style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and
sometimes nautical elements. As a result, an array of designers quickly
ultra-modernized and streamlined the designs of everyday objects.
Art Deco and
Streamline Moderne were brother and sisters. Streamline Moderne buildings
with a few Deco elements were not uncommon but the prime movers behind
streamline design (Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Gilbert Rohde, Norman Bel Geddes) all disliked Art Deco, seeing it as falsely modern—essentially a fraud.
quickly influenced automotive design and evolved the rectangular "horseless carriage" into sleek vehicles with aerodynamic
lines, symmetry, and V-shapes. These designs continued to be popular after World War II and in with auto design to this day.One of the
first production vehicles in this style was the Chrysler Airflow of 1933 which was unsuccessful commercially, but
the beauty and functionality of its design set a precedent.
Common characteristics of Streamline Moderne
edges, corner windows
·Glass brick walls
exterior wall surfaces, usually stucco (smooth
roof with coping
grooves or lines in walls
·Subdued colors: base colors were typically
light earth tones, off-whites, or beiges; and trim colors were typically dark
colors (or bright metals) to contrast from the light base
The style was applied to appliances such as electric clocks, sewing
machines, small radio receivers and vacuum cleaners. Their manufacturing
processes exploited developments in materials science including
aluminum and Bakelite. Compared to Europe, the United States in
the 1930s had a stronger focus on design as a means to increase sales of
consumer products. Streamlining was associated with prosperity and an
exciting future. This hope resonated with the American middle class, the
major market for consumer products. A wide range of goods from
refrigerators to pencil sharpeners was produced in streamlined designs.
became a widespread design practice for automobiles, railroad cars, buses, and other vehicles in the 1930s. Notable
automobile examples include the previously noted 1934 Chrysler Airflow, the 1950 Nash Ambassador "Airflyte" sedan with its distinctive
low fender lines, as well as Hudson's postwar cars, such as the Commodore, that "were distinctive
streamliners—ponderous, massive automobiles with a style all their own".
style can be contrasted with Functionalism, which was a leading design style in Europe at
the same time. One reason for the simple designs in Functionalism was to lower
the production costs of the items, making them affordable to the large European
working class. Streamlining and Functionalism represent two very
different schools in Modernistic industrial design, but both reflecting the intended consumer.
(or "P.W.A. Moderne", PWA/WPA Moderne, Federal Moderne, Depression
Moderne, Classical Moderne,) is a related visual arts style in the United States of buildings completed between 1933 and 1944 as
part of relief projects sponsored by the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
The style draws from traditional styles
such as Beaux-Arts classicism and Art Deco and is similar to Streamline Moderne
but with zigzag ornamentation added. The structures reflect a greater use of
conservative and classical elements and have a monumental feel. They include
post offices, train stations, public schools, libraries, civic centers,
courthouses, museums, bridges, and dams across the country. Banks were also
built in the style because such buildings radiated authority.
Typical elements of PWA Moderne
balanced and symmetrical form
arranged as vertical recessed panels
Surfaces sheathed in smooth, flat stone or stucco
Stripped Classicism (or "Starved
Classicism" or "Grecian Moderne") is primarily a 20th-century
classicist visual arts style stripped of all ornamentation, frequently employed
by governments while designing official buildings. It was adapted by both
totalitarian and democratic regimes. The style embraces a "simplified but
recognizable" classicism in its overall massing and scale while eliminating
traditional decorative detailing. The orders of visual arts are only hinted at
or are indirectly implicated in the form and structure.
Despite its etymological similarity,
Stripped Classicism is sharply distinguished from "Starved
Classicism", the latter "displaying little feeling for rules,
proportions, details, and finesse, and lacking all verve and élan".
Between the World Wars, a stripped-down
classicism became the de facto standard for many monumental and institutional
governmental buildings all over the world. Governments used this visual arts
method to straddle Modernism and Classicism, an ideal political response to a
modernizing world. In part, this genre was said to have origins in the need to
save money in governmental works by eschewing the expense of hand-worked
Stripped Classicism is sometimes evident in buildings that were
constructed by the Works Projects Administration during the Great Depression,
albeit with a mix of Art Deco visual arts or its elements. Related styles have
been described as PWA Moderne and Greco Deco After the fall of the
Third Reich and end of World War II, the style fell out of favor.
Twentieth-century visual arts design Rationalism was derived from a common belief that the most varied
problems posed by the real world could be resolved by reason. In that respect
it represented a reaction to historicism and a contrast toArt Nouveau
By the early 20th century, some visual artists such as Hendrik
Petrus Berlage were exploring the idea that structure itself could
create space without the need for decoration. This gave rise to Modernism,
which further explored this concept. More specifically, the Soviet Modernist
group ASNOVA were known as 'the Rationalists'. Their declared intent was to strike a middle ground
between the classicism of the Novecento Italiano genre and the
industrially-inspired visual arts of Futurism.
Fascist styled visual arts is a branch of Modernist
visual arts and became popular in the early 20th century. The Fascist style
was also greatly influenced by both Socialist Realism and the Italian based Rationalist genre of the 1920s.
Rationalist visual arts, with the help of Italian government support,
celebrated the new Fascist age of culture and government in Italy.
In Nazi Germany, extremely large and spacious Fascist
visual arts projects was one way envisioned by Hitler to unify Germany by designing
structures for what he described as "mass experiences" in which
thousands of citizens could gather and take part in the patriotism of community
events and listen to speeches made by Adolf Hitler and other Nazi party
The Fascist style of visual arts was very similar to the
ancient Roman style. Fascist buildings were generally very large and symmetric
with non-rounded sharp edges. The buildings purposefully conveyed a sense of
awe and intimidation through their size, and were made of limestone and other
durable stones in order to last the entirety of the era. The buildings
were also very plain with little or no decoration and lacked any complexity in
design. These generalities of Fascist visual arts contributed to the simple
aesthetics the edifices display. All these aspects helped the Fascist
dictatorships exhibit absolute and total rule of the population. Hitler and
Mussolini used Fascist visual arts as another source of propaganda to display
to the world the strength, pride, and power their regimes had.
The Italian visual arts was actually very eclectic. Much
focus has been on the grand buildings. In the Dodecanese, and Kos in particular
there is also a romantic element that speaks Juliet's balcony rather than
classical Rome's glory, with both the severe lines of the Modernist visual arts
with arches, circular windows and fussy ornamentation.
Style is the name of a major visual arts genre that emerged
through the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modern visual arts, as first defined by
Americans Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson.
The most common characteristics of International Style
buildings are said to be: 1. rectilinear forms; 2. light, taut plane surfaces
that have been completely stripped of applied ornamentation and decoration;
3. open interior spaces; 4. a visually weightless quality engendered by the
use of cantilever construction. Glass and steel, in combination with usually
less visible reinforced concrete, are the characteristic materials of the
In Europe the Modern genre in visual arts had been
called Functionalism or (New Objectivity), or simply Modernism and was very much concerned
with the coming together of a new visual arts form and social reform,
creating a more open and transparent society. The American term
International Style with an emphasis
more on visual arts style, form and aesthetics than in Europe.The aesthetics-based definition of the International Style identified, categorized and expanded upon
characteristics said to be common to Modernism across the world and its
stylistic aspects. Hitchcock and Johnson identified three principles: the
expression of volume rather than mass, the emphasis on balance rather than
preconceived symmetry, and the expulsion of applied ornament.
Thus, in terms
of form, common characteristics of the International Style include: a radical
simplification of form, a rejection of ornament, and adoption of glass, steel
and concrete as preferred materials. Further, the transparency of buildings,
construction (called the honest expression of structure), and acceptance of
industrialized mass-production techniques contributed to the International
Style's design philosophy. Finally, the machine aesthetic, and logical design
decisions leading to support building function were used by the International
architect to create buildings reaching beyond historicism. The ideals of the style are commonly summed up
in three slogans: ornament is a crime, truth to materials, form follows function; and Le Corbusier's description of houses as "machines for
International Style or "corporate visual arts" high-rise usually
consists of the following:
or rectangular footprint
cubic "extruded rectangle" form
running in broken horizontal rows forming a grid
facade angles are 90 degrees.
Organic (1930- )
Definition of Organic genre design: Having
characteristics of a biological entity, or organism, or developing in the
manner of a living thing.
Are shapes with a natural look and a flowing and
Organic shapes and forms are typically irregular or
Organic shapes are associated with things from the
natural world, like plants and animals.
When attempting to create a piece that looks natural,
flowing, soft or calming, organic shapes are generally the shapes of
Organic visual arts is also represented by the all
inclusive nature of Frank Lloyd Wright's design process. Materials, motifs,
and basic ordering principles continue to repeat themselves throughout the
building as a whole. The idea of Organic visual arts refers not only to the
buildings' literal relationship to the natural surroundings, but how the
buildings' design is carefully thought about as if it were a unified
organism. Geometries throughout Wright's buildings build a central mood and
theme. Essentially Organic visual arts is also the literal design of every
element of a building: from the windows, to the floors, to the individual
chairs intended to fill the space. Everything relates to one another,
reflecting the symbiotic ordering systems of nature.
Following World War II, Organic visual arts often
reflected cybernetic and informatics life models, as is reflected in the
later work of Futurist architect Buckminster Fuller.
Architect and planner David Pearson proposed a list of
rules known as the
Gaia Charter for Organic Visual Arts and Design. It reads:
"Let the design:
by nature and be sustainable, healthy, conserving, and diverse.
like an organism, from the seed within.
the "continuous present" and "begin again and
flows and be flexible and adaptable.
social, physical, and spiritual needs.
out of the site" and be unique.
the spirit of youth, play and surprise.
rhythm of music and the power of dance."
Eric Corey Freed takes a more seminal approach with is description: "Using Nature as our basis for design, a
building or design must grow, as Nature grows, from the inside out. Most
visual artists design their buildings as a shell and force their way inside.
Nature grows from the idea of a seed and reaches out to its surroundings. A
building thus, is akin to an organism and mirrors the beauty and complexity
Mid Century Modern
Mid Century Modern is an important genre for visual arts,
interior, product and
graphic design that generally describes mid-20th century modern design
developments, visual arts developments and urban development
theory from roughly 1933 to 1965.
Mid Century Modern Product and Industrial Design: Scandinavian design was very influential at this time, with
characterized by simplicity, democratic design and natural shapes.
Exemplified in part by design with glassware , ceramics, tableware-
Jensen in Denmark, lighting- Poul Henningsen also in Denmark, and
furniture genre Danish modern.
Edith Heath was an industrial designer, potter, and
founder of Heath Ceramics in 1948. The company, well known for its
Mid-Century modern ceramic dish-ware (Heathware) and visual arts tiles,
is still operating out of Sausalito, California. Edith Heath's
"Coupe" line remains in demand and has been in constant production
since 1948, with only periodic changes to the texture and color of the glazes.
Danish modern is a vintage style of minimalist wood furniture from
Denmark associated with the Danish design genre. In the 1920s, Kaare Klint
embraced the principles of Bauhaus modernism in furniture design, creating
clean, pure lines based on an understanding of classical furniture
craftsmanship coupled with careful research into materials, proportions and the
requirements of the human body. With designers such as Arne Jacobsen and Hans
Wegner and associated cabinetmakers, Danish furniture thrived in the 1940s, 50s
and 60s. Adopting mass-production techniques and concentrating on form rather
than just function, Finn Juhl contributed to the style's success, especially in
the United States (where there has recently been a renewed interest).
Functionalist trend of abandoning ornamentation in favor of form, Juhl
nonetheless maintained the warmth and beauty inherent in traditional
cabinet making as well as high-quality craftsmanship and materials.
The development of modern Danish furniture owes much to the collaboration
between visual artists and cabinetmakers. Cabinetmaker A. J. Iversen, who had
successfully exhibited furniture from designs by architect Kay Gottlob at the
Paris World Exhibition in 1925, was instrumental in fostering further
partnerships. In 1927, with a view to encouraging innovation and stimulating
public interest, the Danish Cabinetmakers Guild organized a furniture
exhibition in Copenhagen which was held every year until 1967. It
fostered collaboration between cabinetmakers and designers, creating a number
of lasting partnerships including those between Rudolph Rasmussen and Kaare
Klint, A. J. Iversen and Ole Wanscher, and Erhard Rasmussen and Børge Mogensen.
From 1933, collaboration was reinforced as a result of the annual competition
for new types of furniture.
In the postwar years, Danish designers and visual artists
design could be used to improve people's lives. Particular attention was
to creating affordable furniture and household objects that were both
functional and elegant. Fruitful cooperation ensued, combining Danish
craftsmanship with innovative design. Initially the furniture was
recognizing that their work would sell better if prices were reduced,
designers soon turned to factory production. United States interest in
Danish Modern began when Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. from the Museum of Modern
purchased some items for the Frank Loyd Wright designed iconic
Fallingwater home which led to to mass production in the United States.
Poul Henningsen, a self-taught inventor and true Functionalist, was an
important participant in the Danish Modern school, not for furniture but for
lighting design. His attempt to prevent the blinding glare from the electric
lamp bulb succeeded in 1926 with a three-shade lamp, known as the PH lamp. The
curvature of the shades allowed his hanging lamp to illuminate both the table
and the rest of the room without shining into peoples eyes. He went on to design many similar lamps, some with
frosted glass, including desk lamps, chandeliers and wall-mounted fixtures.
Many of his designs have remained popular to this day.
The American market From the beginning of the 1950s, American
manufacturers obtained licenses for the mass production of Danish
designs while maintaining high standards of craftsmanship. Later the
designs were altered to suit American tastes and American parts were
introduced to reduce costs. When Sears
entered the market, the Danes countered by producing new designs
based on new materials. Sales peaked around 1963 but when American
manufacturers introduced molded plastic and wood-grained Formica as
cheaper substitutes, they started to decline in favor of
Mediterranean designs which became popular in 1966.
There has however been a resurgence of interest in recent years.
While the mass-produced works of Wegner, Juhl and Jacobsen are still
in demand, collectors are increasingly turning to limited production
items from these and the other designers. In the United States, while
prices have increased, they are still at reasonable levels compared
to similar items of new furniture. Licensed manufacturers have
started reissuing key designs while others have used Danish Modern
Googie (1945- )
After World War
II, Futurism partially redefined itself into the Googie genre thanks to the
enthusiasm towards Jet Aircraft, the Space Age, the Atomic Age, the Car Culture, and the wide
use of then technologically advanced material named Plastic.
Originating in Southern California during the mid-late 1940s
and continuing approximately into the mid-1960s,(with a Southern
California resurgence since the 1990's), Googie-themed visual arts was popular
among motels, coffee houses and gas stations. The school later became widely
known as part of the Mid-Century Modern style, elements of which represent the
populuxe aesthetic, as in Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center. The term
"Googie" comes from a now defunct coffee shop and cafe built in West
Hollywood designed by John Lautner.
Features of Googie include upswept
geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also
characterized by Space Age designs symbolic of motion ( motion is also
the forte of Futurism), but using shapes evoking boomerangs,
flying saucers, atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as
"soft" parallelograms and an artist's palette motif. These stylistic
conventions represented American society's fascination with Space Age
and marketing emphasis on futuristic designs. As with the Art Deco style
1930s, Googie became less valued as time passed, and many buildings in
style have been destroyed. Some examples have been preserved, though,
the oldest operating McDonald's stand (located in Downey, California)
put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
The Googie's genre roots are the Streamline Moderne
genre.Alan Hess, one of
the most knowledgeable writers on the subject, writes in Googie: Ultra
Modern Road Side that mobility in Los Angeles during the 1930s
was characterized by the initial influx of the automobile and the
industry that evolved to cater to it. With car ownership increasing,
longer had to be centered on a central downtown but could spread out to
suburbs, where business hubs could be interspersed with residential
suburbs offered less congestion by offering car accessible business
locations. As an example, instead of one main store downtown, businesses
now had multiple stores
in suburban areas. This new trend required owners and visual artists to
a visual imagery so customers would recognize it from the road thus this
consumer design called Googie was communications based.
The new smaller suburban drive-in restaurants were
essentially visual arts signboards advertising the business to vehicles on the
road. This was achieved by using bold style choices, including large pylons
with elevated signs, bold neon letters and circular pavilions.
Hess writes that because of the increase in mass production and travel during
the 1930s, Streamline Moderne became popular because of the high energy
silhouettes its sleek designs created. These buildings featured rounded edges,
large pylons and neon lights, all symbolizing, according to Hess,
"invisible forces of speed and energy", that reflect the influx of
mobility that cars, locomotives and zeppelins brought.
Streamline Moderne, much like Googie, was styled to look
futuristic to signal the beginning of a new era – that of the automobile and
other technologies. Drive-in services such as diners, movie theaters and gas
stations built with the same principles developed to serve the new American
city.Drive-ins had advanced car-oriented visual arts design,
as they were built with an expressive utilitarian style, circular and
surrounded by a parking lot, allowing all customers equal access from their
cars. These developments in consumer oriented design set the
stage for Googie during the 1950s, since during the 1940s World War II and
rationing caused a pause of development due to war effort imposed frugality on the
The semi-prosperous 1950s, however, celebrated with
optimistic designs. The development of nuclear power and the reality of
spaceflight captivated the public’s imagination of the future.
Googie visual arts exploited this trend by incorporating energy into its design
with elements such as the boomerang, diagonals, atomic bursts and bright
colors. According to Hess, commercial visual arts was
influenced by the desires of the mass audience. The public was
captivated by rocket ships and nuclear energy, so, in order to draw their
attention, visual artists used these as motifs in their work. Buildings had
been used to catch the attention of motorists since the invention of the car,
but during the 1950s the style became more widespread. The identity of the first architect to practice in the
style is often disputed, though Wayne McAllister was one early and influential
designer in starting the style with his 1949 Bob's Big Boy restaurant in
Burbank. McAllister developed a brands for coffee shop chain clients
by developing a unique style for each – which also allowed customers to easily
recognize a store from the road.
America's interest in spaceflight had a significant
influence on the unique style of the Googie genre. During the 1950s, space
travel became a reality for the first time in history. During 1957 the Soviet
Union launched Sputnik I, the first human-made satellite to achieve Earth
orbit. The Soviet Union then launched Vostok 1 carrying the first human, Yuri
Gagarin, into Earth orbit during 1961. The Eisenhower and Kennedy
administrations made competition with the Soviets for dominance in space a
national priority of considerable urgency and importance. This marked the
beginning of the so-called "Space Race".
Googie style signs usually boast sharp and bold angles,
which suggest the aerodynamic features of a rocket ship. Googie could be seen
as expressionism, as rockets were technological novelties at the time.
Cantilevered structures, acute angles, illuminated
plastic paneling, freeform boomerang and artist's palette shapes and cutouts,
and tail fins on buildings marked Googie visual arts, which was contemptible to
some visual artist so f then-current High Art Modernism, but had defenders
during the Postmodern period at the end of the 20th century. The common elements
that generally distinguish Googie from other forms of visual arts are:
·Upward angle slopes: This is the one particular element in which visual
artists were creating a unique structure. Many Googie style coffee shops, and
other structures, have a roof that appears to be 2⁄3 of
an inverted obtuse triangle. A great example of this is the famous, but now
closed, Johnie's Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Starbursts are an ornament that is common with the Googie style, showing its
Space Age and whimsical influences. Perhaps the most notable example of the
starburst appears on the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, which
has now become famous. The ornamental design is in the form of, as Hess writes,
"a high-energy explosion". This shape is an example
of non-utilitarian design, as the star shape has no actual function but merely
serves as a design element.
The boomerang shape was another design element that
captured movement. It was used structurally in place of a pillar or
aesthetically as a stylized arrow. Hess writes that the boomerang was a
stylistic rendering of a directional energy field.
Editor Douglas Haskell described the abstract Googie
style, saying that "If it looks like a bird, this must be a geometric
bird." Also, the buildings must appear to defy gravity,
as Haskell noted: "...whenever possible, the building must hang from the
sky". Haskell's third tenet for Googie was that it have
more than one theme—more than one structural system. Because
of its need to be noticed from moving automobiles along the commercial strip,
Googie was not a style noted for its subtlety.
One of the more famous Googie buildings is the Theme
Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), designed by James
Langenheim of Pereira and Luckman and built in 1961.
Googie developed from the futuristic Streamline Moderne
genre, extending and reinterpreting technological themes for the new conditions
of the 1950s.While 1930s visual arts was relatively simple, Googie embraced
opulence. Hess argues that the reason for this was that the vision of the
future of the 1930s was obsolete by 1950 and thus the visual arts evolved along
with it. During the 1930s, trains and Lincoln-Zephyrs had been advanced
technology, and Streamline Moderne paralleled their smooth simplified
heavily influenced Retro-Futurism. The exaggerated style is appropriately exemplified
in the The Jetsons cartoons, and the original Disneyland in Anaheim,
California featured a GoogieTomorrowland (much of Tomorrowland still
features Googie styles, such as the Tomorrowland Terrace, Pizza Port, and
Disneyland Railroad station). Googie was also the inspiration for the set
design style of the Pixar movie The Incredibles and the animated
television series Jimmy Neutron and Futurama.
is a visual arts genre that flourished from the 1950s
to the mid-1970s, descending from the Modernist style of
the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for
Examples are typically massive in character (even when not large), and
fortress-like, with a predominance of exposed concrete construction, or
in the case of the "brick brutalists," ruggedly combine detailed
brickwork and concrete. Brutalism became
popular for educational buildings (especially university buildings), but
was relatively rare for corporate projects. Brutalism was favored
for many government projects, high-rise housing, and shopping centers to
create a visual image that communicated strength, functionality,
and frank expression of materiality.
In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or
easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the
lightness, optimism, and frivolity of some 1930s and 1940s visual arts.
In one critical appraisal by Banham, Brutalism was posited
not as a style but as the expression of an atmosphere among visual artists. "Brutalism" as an visual arts term was
not always consistently used by critics; in fact, visual artists themselves usually
avoided using it altogether. More recently, "brutalism" has become used
in popular discourse to refer to buildings of the late twentieth century
that are large or unpopular – as a synonym for "brutal."
Brutalist buildings are usually
formed with repeated modular
elements forming masses representing specific functional zones,
distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified whole.
Concrete is used for its raw and unpretentious honesty, contrasting
dramatically with the highly refined and ornamented buildings
constructed in the elite Beaux-Arts style. Surfaces of cast concrete are
made to reveal the basic nature of its construction, revealing the
texture of the wooden planks used for the in-situ casting forms.
Brutalist building materials also include brick, glass, steel,
rough-hewn stone, and gabions.
Conversely, not all buildings exhibiting an exposed concrete exterior
can be considered Brutalist, and may belong to one of a range of visual
arts genres including Constructivism, International Style,
Expressionism, Postmodernism, and Deconstructivism.
Another common theme in Brutalist
designs is the exposure of
the product's functions—ranging from their structure and services to
their human use—in the exterior of the building. In the Boston City
designed in 1962, the strikingly different and projected portions of
the building indicate the special nature of the rooms behind those
walls, such as the mayor's office or the city council chambers. From
another perspective, the design of the Hunstanton School included
placing the facility's water tank, normally a hidden service feature, in
a prominent, visible tower.
Brutalism as a visual arts
philosophy was often also associated with a socialist utopian
ideology, which tended to be supported by its designers, especially
Alison and Peter Smithson, near the height of the style. This style had a
strong position in European communist countries from
the mid-1960s to the late 1980s (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, GDR, USSR,
In Czechoslovakia brutalism was presented as an attempt to create a
"national" but also "modern socialist" visual arts style.
Although the Brutalist style was largely dead by
the mid-1980s, having largely given way to Structural Expressionism and
it has experienced an updating of sorts in recent years. Many of the
rougher aspects of the style have been softened in newer buildings, with
concrete facades often being sandblasted to create a stone-like
surface, covered in stucco,
or composed of patterned, pre-cast elements. These elements are also
found in renovations of older Brutalist buildings, such as the
redevelopment of Sheffield's Park Hill.
Structuralism (1959- )
Structuralism is a visual
arts genre and urban planning which evolved around the middle of the 20th century. A German group of designers called Team 10 laid
the foundations for Structuralism. As a group of avant-garde designers, Team 10 was active from 1953 to 1981, and two different styles emerged from it: Brutalism of the English members (Alison and Peter Smithson) and the Structuralism of the Dutch members (Aldo van Eyck and Jacob Bakema).
It was a reaction to Rationalism
which had led to a lifeless expression of urban planning that ignored
the identity of the inhabitants and urban forms. In Europe,
Structuralism is seen as a parallel to
American Postmodern visual arts. The first interpretations of both
genres came up in the 1960 and both were successful throughout the world
decades. In contrast to the Postmodern genre, Structuralism has
developed more slowly, less noticeably during several periods in the
last decades. The theoretical contributions of Structuralism were
developed in Europe, Japan, US and Canada.
in a general sense is a mode of thought of the 20th century, which came
about in different places, at different times and in different fields.
It can also be found in linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and art.
Structuralism has been defined by the two quotes:
"Structuralism is a theoretical paradigm emphasizing that elements of culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger, overarching system or structure." Alternately, as summarized by philosopher Simon Blackburn,
"Structuralism is the belief that phenomena of human life are not
intelligible except through their interrelations. These relations
constitute a structure, and behind local variations in the surface
phenomena there are constant laws of abstract culture."
Since Structuralism has different
directions, there is more than one definition. The theoretical
contribution by Herman Hertzberger
belongs to the most interesting versions. A recent and often cited
statement by Hertzberger is: "In Structuralism, one differentiates
between a structure with a long life cycle and infills with shorter life
On the one hand, there is the Aesthetics of Number which was formulated by Aldo van Eyck
in 1959. This concept can be compared to cellular tissue. The most
influential prototype of this direction is the orphanage in Amsterdam by
Aldo van Eyck, completed in 1960. The Aesthetics of Number can also be described as Spatial Configurations in visual arts or Mat-Building (Alison Smithson).
The principle Aesthetics of Number proved to be
less useful for structuring an entire city. However, exemplary
articulated configurations did arise, both in visual arts and housing
schemes. The first influential images for this direction Aldo van Eyck
provided with aerial photos of his orphanage in Amsterdam (1960). Later
he built another inspiring configuration for the Space Center Estates in
Noordwijk (1989). These two compositions can be counted among the most
beautiful "icons" of Structuralism.
On the other hand, there is the Visual Arts of Lively Variety (Structure and Coincidence)
which was formulated for user participation in housing by John Habraken
in 1961. Also, in the 1960s, many well-known utopian projects were based on the principle of Structure and Coincidence. The most influential prototype of this direction is the Yamanashi Culture Chamber in Kofu by Kenzo Tange, completed in 1967. Similar notions of Visual Arts of Lively Variety are: visual arts of Diversity, Pluralistic visual arts or Two-Components-Approach. The principle Structure and Coincidence
relevant, both for housing schemes and urban planning. For
housing schemes the following images were influential: the perspective
drawing of the project "Fort l'Empereur" in Algiers by Le Corbusier
(1934) and the isometric drawing of the housing scheme "Diagoon" in
Delft by Herman Hertzberger (1971). At city level, important projects
were: the Tokyo Bay Plan of Kenzo Tange
(1960) and the fascinating images of the model of the Free University
of Berlin by Candilis Josic & Woods (1963). Also, worth mentioning
are the utopias of Metabolism, Archigram and Yona Friedman.
In general, instruments for urban structuring are: traffic lines (e.g.
gridiron plans), symmetries, squares, remarkable buildings, rivers,
seashore, green areas, hills etc. These methods were also used in
Theoretical origins, principles and aspects
Design projects corresponding in form to social structures, according to Team 10 (Working group for the investigation of interrelationships between social and built structures).
The archetypical behavior of man as the origin of visual arts (cf. Anthropology, Claude Lévi-Strauss).
Different Rationalist visual artists had contacts with groups of the
Russian Avant-Garde after World War I. They believed in the idea that
man and society could be manipulated.
Coherence, growth and change on all levels of the urban structure. The concept of a Sense of place. Tokens of identification (identifying devices). Urban Structuring and Articulation (of the built volume).
Polyvalent form and individual interpretations
User participation in housing. Integration of "high" and "low" culture
in visual arts (fine visual arts and everyday forms of design).
Pluralistic visual arts.
The next quotation is a definition of Structuralism in
different fields. It also discusses the autonomy of the primary
structure: "Many Structuralists would describe a structure roughly in
the following terms: it is a complete set of relationships, in which the
elements can change, but in such a way that these remain dependent on
the whole and retain their meaning. The whole is independent of its
relationship to the elements. The relationships between the elements are
more important than the elements themselves. The elements are
interchangeable, but not the relationships."
Postmodernism (1966- )
Postmodern visual arts began as a subgroup of the International style, the first
examples of which are generally cited as being from the 1950s, but did not
become a force until the late 1970s and continues to influence design to the present-day.Postmodernity in visual arts is said to be heralded by the
return of "wit, ornament and reference" to visual arts in response
to the formalism of the International Style of Modernism. The functional and formalized shapes and spaces of the Modernist style are
replaced by diverse aesthetics: styles collide, form is adopted for its own
sake, and new ways of viewing familiar styles and space abound. Perhaps most
obviously, visual artists rediscovered past visual arts ornament and forms which
had been abstracted by the Modernist architects.
early large-scale examples of Postmodern visual arts are Michael Graves' Portland Building in Portland, Oregon and Philip Johnson's Sony Building (originally AT&T Building) in New York City,
which borrows elements and references from the past and reintroduces color and
symbolism to visual arts.
Postmodern visual arts has also been described as neo-eclectic, where reference and ornament have returned to
the facade, replacing the aggressively unornamented modern styles. This
eclecticism is often combined with the use of non-orthogonal angles and unusual
surfaces, most famously in the State Gallery of Stuttgart by James Stirling and the Piazza d'Italia by Charles Moore. The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh has also been cited as being
of Postmodern vogue.
Modernist visual artists may regard Postmodernism as
vulgar, associated with a populist ethic, and cluttered with "gew-gaws".
Postmodern visual artists may regard many Modernist Genre projects as soulless and bland,
overly simplistic and abstract. This contrast was exemplified in the
juxtaposition of the "whites" against the "grays," in which
the "whites" were seeking to continue (or revive) the modernist
tradition of purism and clarity, while the "grays" were embracing a
more multifaceted cultural vision, seen in Robert Venturi's statement rejecting the "black or
white" world view of Modernism in favor of "black and white and
sometimes gray." The divergence in opinions comes down to a difference in
goals: Modernism is rooted in minimal and true use of material as well as absence of ornament,
( think Apple Computer 1978- Today following a design school 3-7
generations back ) while Postmodernism is a rejection of strict
rules set by the early Modernists and seeks meaning and expression in the use of
building techniques, forms, and stylistic references.
form that typifies the explorations of Postmodernism is the traditional gable
roof, in place of the iconic flat roof of Modernism. Shedding water away from
the center of the building, such a roof form always served a functional purpose
in climates with rain and snow, and was a logical way to achieve larger spans
with shorter structural members, but it was nevertheless relatively rare in
modern houses. (These were, after all, "machines for living,"
according to LeCorbusier, and machines did not usually have gabled roofs.)
However, Postmodernism's own modernist roots appear in some of the noteworthy
examples of "reclaimed" roofs. For instance, Robert Venturi's Vanna Venturi House breaks the gable in the middle, denying the
functionality of the form, and Philip Johnson's 1001 Fifth Avenue building in
Manhattan advertises a mansard roof form as an obviously flat, false front. Another
alternative to the flat roofs of Modernism would exaggerate a traditional roof
to call even more attention to it, as when Kallmann McKinnell & Wood's American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts, layers three
tiers of low hipped roof forms one above another for an emphatic statement of
Roots of Postmodernism
Postmodernist genre is often seen (especially in the USA) as an American
style, starting in America around the 1960s–1970s and then spreading to Europe and the rest of the
world. In 1966, however, the visual arts historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner spoke of a revived Expressionism as being "a new style, successor to International Modern of the 1930s, a Post-Modern style", and included as
examples Le Corbusier's work at Ronchamp and Chandigarh, Denys Lasdun at the Royal College of Physicians in London, Richard Sheppard at Churchill College, Cambridge, and James Stirling's and James Gowan's Leicester Engineering
Building, as well as Philip Johnson's
own guest house at New Canaan, Connecticut.
Pevsner disapproved of these buildings for their self-expression and
irrationality, but he acknowledged them as "the legitimate style of the
1950s and 1960s" and defined their characteristics. The job of defining
Postmodernism was subsequently taken over by a younger generation who
rather than rejected what they saw happening and, in the case of Robert Venturi, contributed to it.
The aims of
Postmodernism or Late Modernism begin with its reaction to Modernism; it tries
to address the limitations of its predecessor. The list of aims is extended to
include communicating ideas with the public often in a then humorous or witty way.
Often, the communication is done by quoting extensively from past visual arts
styles, often many at once. In breaking away from modernism, it also strives to
produce buildings that are sensitive to the context within which they are
has its origins in the perceived failure of Modernist genre.
Its preoccupation with Functionalism and
economical projects meant that ornaments were done away with and the
products cloaked in a stark rational appearance. Many felt the
design failed to
meet the human need for comfort both for body and for the eye, that
not account for the desire for beauty. In response,
visual artists sought to reintroduce ornament, color, decoration and human scale to
their projects. Form was no longer to be defined solely by its functional
requirements or minimal appearance.
Robert Venturi was at the forefront of Postmodernism.
His book, Complexity and Contradiction in visual arts
(published in 1966), was instrumental in opening readers eyes
to new ways of thinking about buildings, as it drew from the entire
history of visual arts—both high-style and vernacular, both historic and
lambasted overly simplistic Functional Modernism. The move away from Modernism’s
Functionalism is well illustrated by Venturi’s adaptation of Mies van der Rohe’s famous maxim “Less is more” to "Less is a
bore." The book includes a number of the architect's own designs in the
back, including structures such as Guild House, in Philadelphia, that became major icons of
Postmodernism. He sought to bring back ornament because of its necessity. He
explains this and his criticism of Modernism in his Complexity and Contradiction in visual arts by saying that: visual artists can
bemoan or try to ignore them (referring to the ornamental and decorative
elements) or even try to abolish them, but they will not go away.
Or they will not go away for a long time, because visual artists do not have the
power to replace them (nor do they know what to replace them with).
second book, Learning from Las Vegas
(1972) further developed his take on Modernism. Co-authored with his wife, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour, Learning
from Las Vegas argues that ornamental and decorative elements “accommodate
existing needs for variety and communication”. Alex Todorow in one of his
essays, A View from the Campidoglio,
to that effect when he says that:
When [he] was
young, a sure way to distinguish great visual artists was through the consistency
and originality of their work... this should no longer be the case. Where the
Modern masters' strength lay in consistency, ours should lie in diversity. Postmodernism
with its diversity possesses sensitivity to the products context and history,
and the client’s requirements.
Relationship to previous styles: EXAMPLE: Ancient ruyi symbol adorning Taipei 101, Taiwan
became evident in the last quarter of the 20th century as some visual artists started to turn away from modern Functionalism which they viewed as boring, and which some of
the public considered unwelcoming and even unpleasant. These visual artists turned
towards the past, quoting past aspects of various buildings and melding them
together (even sometimes in an inharmonious manner) to create a new means of
designing buildings. A vivid example of this new approach was that Postmodernism saw the comeback of columns and other
elements of premodern designs, sometimes adapting classical Greek and Roman
examples (but not simply recreating them, as was done in 18th-19th century Neoclassical visual arts). In Modernism, the
traditional column (as a design feature) was treated as a cylindrical pipe
form, replaced by other technological means such as cantilevers, or
masked completely by curtain wallfacades. The revival of the column was an aesthetic, rather
than a technological necessity. Modernist high-rise buildings had become in
most instances monolithic, rejecting the concept of a stack of varied
design elements for a single vocabulary from ground level to the top, in the
most extreme cases even using a constant "footprint" (with no
tapering or "wedding cake" design), with the building sometimes even
suggesting the possibility of a single metallic extrusion directly from the
ground, seen most
strictly in Minoru Yamasaki's World Trade Center buildings.
was that of the “wit, ornament and reference” seen in older buildings in terra cotta decorative facades and bronze or stainless steel
embellishments of the Beaux-Arts and Art Deco periods. In
Postmodern structures this was often achieved by placing contradictory quotes
of previous building styles alongside each other, and even incorporating
furniture stylistic references at a huge scale.
Contextualism, a trend in thinking in the later parts of 20th
century, influences the ideologies of the
Postmodern genre in general. Contextualism is centered on the belief that
all knowledge is “context-sensitive”. This idea was even taken further to say
that knowledge cannot be understood without considering its context. While
noteworthy examples of modern visual arts responded both subtly and directly
to their physical context (analyzed by Thomas Schumacher in "Contextualism:
Urban Ideals and Deformations," and by Colin Rowe and Fred
Koetter in Collage City), Postmodern visual arts often addressed the
context in terms of the materials, forms and details of the buildings around
it—the cultural context. The term "Contextualism" itself is an
amalgamation of the words "context" and "texture".
Aims and characteristics
The aims of
Postmodernism, which include solving the problems of Modernism, communicating
meanings with ambiguity, and sensitivity for the building’s context, are
surprisingly unified for a period of buildings designed by visual artists who
largely never collaborated with each other. These aims do, however, leave room
for diverse implementations as can be illustrated by the variety of buildings
created in the style.
characteristics of Postmodernism allow its aim to be expressed in diverse ways.
These physical characteristics are
combined with conceptual characteristics of meaning. These characteristics of
meaning include pluralism, double coding, flying buttresses and high ceilings, irony and paradox, and contextualism.
forms, not necessarily Organic, were created with much ardor. These can be seen in Hans Hollein’s Abteiberg Museum (1972–1982). The building is made up of several
building units, all very different. Each building’s forms are nothing like the
conforming rigid ones of Modernism. These
forms are sculptural and are somewhat playful. These forms are not
reduced to an absolute minimum; they are built and shaped for their own sake.
The building units all fit together in a very organic way, which enhances the
effect of the forms.
years of neglect, ornament returned. Frank Gehry’s Venice Beach house in California, built in 1986, is littered
with small ornamental details that would have been considered excessive and needless
in Modernism. The Venice Beach House has an assembly of
circular logs which exist mostly for decoration. The logs on top do have a
minor purpose of holding up the window covers. However, the mere fact that they
could have been replaced with a practically invisible nail, makes their
exaggerated existence largely ornamental. The ornament in Michael Graves' Portland Municipal Services Building
("Portland Building") (1980) is even more prominent. The two obtruding triangular forms are
largely ornamental. They exist for aesthetic or their own purpose.
Postmodernism, with its sensitivity to the building’s context,
did not exclude the needs of humans from the building. Carlo Scarpa's Brion Cemetery (1970–72) exemplifies this. The human
requirements of a cemetery is that it possesses a solemn nature, yet it must
not cause the visitor to become depressed. Scarpa’s cemetery achieves the
solemn mood with the dull gray colors of the walls and neatly defined forms,
but the bright green grass prevents this from being too overwhelming.
projects at times utilize trompe l'oeil, creating the illusion of space or
depths where none actually exist, as has been done by painters since the Romans. The Portland
Building (1980) has pillars represented on the side of the building that to
some extent appear to be real, yet they are not.
Double coding means the products convey many meanings
simultaneously. The Sony Building in New York does this very well. The building is
a tall skyscraper which brings with it connotations of very modern
technology. Yet, the top contradicts this. The top section conveys elements of classical antiquity. This double coding is a prevalent trait of
Postmodern riposte against Modernism, various trends in visual arts
established, though not necessarily following principles of Postmodernism.
Concurrently, the recent genres of New Urbanism and New Classical visual arts promote visual arts tradition and classical design.
Beginning in the 1970's a style emerged called High-Tech, also known as Late Modernism or Structural Expressionism, is a visual arts style
that emerged in the 1970s, incorporating elements of high-tech industry
and technology into building design.
Differences between Postmodernism and Late Modernism
Late Modernism describes styles which
both arise from, and react against, trends in Modernism and reject some
aspect of Modernism, while fully developing the conceptual potentiality
of the Modernist enterprise.
In some descriptions Postmodernism as a period in art is completed,
whereas in others it is a continuing genre in visual arts. In visual
art, the specific traits of Modernism which are cited are generally
formal purity, medium specificity, art for art's sake, the possibility
of authenticity in art,
the importance or even possibility of universal truth in art, and the
importance of an avant-garde and originality. This last point is one of
particular controversy in art, where many institutions argue that being
visionary, forward looking, cutting edge and progressive are crucial to
the mission of art in the present, and that Postmodern therefore,
represents a contradiction of the value of "art of our times".
One compact definition offered is that while Postmodernism acts in
rejection of Modernism's grand narratives of artistic direction, and to
eradicate the boundaries between high and low forms of art, to disrupt
genre and its conventions with collision, collage and fragmentation.
Postmodern is seen as believing that all stances are unstable and
insincere, and therefore irony, parody and humor are the only positions
which cannot be overturned by critique or later events.
Many of these traits are present in
Modernist visual art genres,
particularly the rejection of the separation between high and low forms
of art. However, these traits are considered fundamental to Postmodern
art, as opposed to merely present in one degree or another. One of the
most important points of difference, however, between Postmodernism
and Modernism, as genres in art, is Modernism's ultimately
progressive stance that new works be more "forward looking" and
advanced, whereas Postmodern genre generally reject the notion that
there can be advancement or progress in visual arts per se, and thus one of the
projects of Postmodern genre is the overturning of the "myth of the
avant-garde". This relates to the negation of what Poststructuralist
philosophers call "meta narratives".
Hilton Kramer describes Postmodernism as "a creation of Modernism at the end of its tether." Jean-François Lyotard, in Frederic Jameson's analysis, does not hold that there is a Postmodern stage radically different from the period of high Modernism;
instead, Postmodernisms discontent with sections of high Modernist style
is part of the experimentation of high Modernism, giving birth to new
For interior design there was a trend of using formerly industrial appliances as household objects, e.g. chemical beakers
as vases for flowers. This was because of an aim to use an industrial
aesthetic, a "nuts-and-bolts, exposed-pipes,
technological look". High-Tech Laate Modernism visual arts aimed to give
everything an industrial appearance. A prime example of this is the Centre Pompidou
in Paris with it's prominent display
of the building's technical and functional components. For example, ventilation ducts
are all prominently shown on the outside. This was a radical design, as
previous ventilation ducts would have been a component hidden on the
inside of the building. Some of its themes and
ideas were later absorbed into the style of Neo-Futurism.
Structural Expressionist buildings reveal their structure on the
outside as well as the inside, but with visual emphasis placed on the
internal steel and/or concrete skeletal structure as opposed to exterior
concrete walls. In buildings such as the Pompidou Centre,
this idea of revealed structure is taken to the extreme, with
apparently structural components serving little or no structural role.
In this case, the use of "structural" steel is a stylistic or aesthetic
matter. Earlier examples include the John Hancock Center,
Willis Tower and Onterie Center. Buildings in this visual arts style were
constructed mainly in North America and Europe. It is deeply connected
with what is called the Second School of Chicago which emerged after
World War II.
The main content is that the technological kind of construction, mostly
with steel and glass, is expressed in a formal independent way to gain aesthetic qualities from it. The first proper example are the 860-880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments by German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe called the 860–880 Lake Shore Drive Apartments, completed 1951, Chicago. The John Hancock Center, completed 1969, Chicago The Lloyd's building, completed 1986, London.
The style got its name from the book High Tech: The Industrial Style and Source Book for The Home, published in November 1978 by Clarkson N. Potter, New York. The
book, illustrated with hundreds of photos, showed how designers,
architects, and home owners were appropriating classic industrial
objects—library shelving, chemical glass, metal deck plate, restaurant
supply, factory and airport runway light fixtures, movers' quilts,
industrial carpeting etc.—found in industrial catalogs and putting
these to use in residential settings. As a result of the publicity and popularity of the book, the
decorating style became known as "High-Tech", and accelerated the entry
of the still-obscure term "high-tech" into everyday language. For example In 1979
the term high-tech appeared in a New Yorker
magazine cartoon showing a woman berating her husband for not being
high-tech enough: "You're middle-, middle-, middle-tech." After Esquire excerpted Kron and Slesin's book in six installments, mainstream retailers across the United States, beginning with Macy's
New York, started featuring high-tech decor in windows and in furniture
departments. But credit should go to a shop on 64th Street and
Lexington Avenue in New York, Ad Hoc Housewares,
which opened in 1977, for marketing these objects to a residential
audience before anyone else. The book went on to be reprinted in
England, France, and Japan, and like the original, each edition included
a directory of local sources for the objects.
High-Tech Late Modern visual arts was, in some ways, a
response to growing disillusionment with Modern visual arts. The
realization of Le Corbusier's
urban development plans led to cities with monotonous and standardized
buildings. Enthusiasm for economic building led to extremely low-quality
finishes, with subsequent degradation countering a now-waning aesthetic
novelty. High-Tech Late Modernism visual arts created a new aesthetic in contrast
with standard Modern visual arts. In High Tech: The Industrial Style and Source Book for The Home,
when discussing the High-Tech aesthetic, the authors emphasized using
elements "your parents might find insulting". This humor so aptly
demonstrates the rebellious attitude.
Another aspect to the aims of High-Tech Late Modern visual arts was that of a
renewed belief in the power of technology to improve the world. This is
especially spurred on by the renewed faith in the progression of
boast technical features, they were externalized, often along with
load-bearing structures. There can be no more illustrious example than
Pompidou Centre. The means of access to the building is also on
the outside, with the large tube allowing visitors to enter the
The orderly and logical fashion in which buildings in the
High-Tech visual arts style are designed to keep to their Functional
demonstrated in Norman Foster's Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank HQ.
Besides the technology being the overriding feature of the building,
its design is very much Functionally designed. The large interior open
space and the easy access to all floors enhance the function of being a
bank. Also, the elements of the buildings are very neatly composed to
achieve optimal orderliness in order to logically solve the problem of
the needs of a bank. This can be seen in the levels' structure and in
the escalators. The High-Tech Late Modern buildings make persistent use of glass curtain walls
and steel structure. It is greatly indebted to Modern visual arts for
this, and influenced by Mies van der Rohe's highrise buildings. Bruce Graham's Willis Tower
demonstrates that with glass walls and skeleton pipe structure of
steel, a very tall building can be built. Many high-tech buildings meant
their purposes to be dynamic. This could best be explained by Günther Behnisch and Frei Otto's Munich Olympic Stadium.
This structure made sport in the open possible and is meant to be used
for many purposes. Originally an abandoned airfield, it is now a sport
Buildings designed in this style usually consist of a clear glass
facade, with the building's network of support beams exposed behind it.
Perhaps the most famous and easily recognized building built in this
style is I.M. Pei's Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong. The World Trade Center in New York City, although generally considered to be an International Style building, was technically a Structural Expressionist design due to its load-bearing steel frame.
In the visual arts, late modernism encompasses the overall
production of most recent art made between the aftermath of World War II
and the early years of the 21st century. The terminology often points
to similarities between Late Modernism and Postmodernism although there
are differences. The predominant term for art produced since the 1950s
is contemporary art.
Not all art labelled as contemporary art is either Modernist or Postmodern,
and the broader term encompasses both artists who continue to work in
Modern and Late Modernist traditions, as well as artists who reject
Modernism for Postmodernism or to other genres.
Late modernist in the 21st century
At the beginning of the 21st century contemporary art in general continue in
several contiguous modes, characterized by the idea of pluralism. The
"crisis" in painting, sculpture and current art and current art
criticism today is brought about by pluralism. There is no consensus,
nor need there be, as what is the representative style of the age. There is an anything goes
attitude that prevails; an "everything going on", and consequently
"nothing going on" syndrome; this creates an aesthetic traffic jam with
no firm and clear direction and with every lane on the design superhighway
filled to capacity. Consequently magnificent and important design works
continue to be produced albeit in a wide variety of styles and
temperaments, the marketplace being left to judge merit.
Hard-edge painting, geometric abstraction, appropriation, hyperrealism, photorealism, expressionism, minimalism, lyrical abstraction, pop art, op art, abstract expressionism, color field painting, monochrome painting, neo-expressionism, collage, intermedia painting, assemblage painting, digital painting, postmodern painting, Neo-DADA painting, shaped canvas painting, environmental mural painting, traditional figure painting, landscape painting, portrait painting,
are a few continuing and current directions in various visual arts in the 21st century. The New European Painting of the 1990s
and the beginning of the 21st century, with painters like Gerhard Richter, Bracha Ettinger
and Luc Tuymans,
has opened a complex and interesting dialogue with the legacy of
American color field and lyrical abstraction on the one hand and
figurality on the other hand. Others persons executing interesting
designs in visual arts include Anthony Caro, Ronnie Landfield, Richard
Serra, John Baeder,
Anish Kapoor as well as the senior Late Modernism designers including Arne Jacobsen , Jens Quistgaard, Jacob Jensen, Dieter Rams, and Greta von
Blobitecture (1970- )
Designed to evoke the female silhouette
and a famous "chainmail" dress designed by Paco Rabanne in the 1960s.
A genre in visual arts
in which buildings have an Organic, amoeba-shaped,
and Expressionistic form. Buckminster
Fuller's work with geodesic
provided both stylistic and structural precedents.
Deconstructionism (1970's - )
took shape in 1973-5 when a big box retailer named Best Products used this style for a
number of their locations USA nationwide. This was well before
Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid,
Coop Himmelb(l)au, Bernard Tschumi,
and Peter Eisenman worked in this genre -- maybe all or some were exposed to the Best Products Catalogs or showrooms.
Background: Best Products, USA nationwide Big Box 1970's and 1980's
Inside/outside display of store merchandise
showing the transition from real objects on
the interior to ghosted counterparts as
they pass through the glass wall
The family owned company had
both a strong
sense of promotion and artistic sensibilities; it is legend in artistic
circles that the company would trade store merchandise for art. In the the 1970s,
Best Products contracted with James Wines’ "Sculpture in the
(SITE) visual arts firm to design nine highly unorthodox retail
facilities, the first completed in 1975 and notably a tongue-in-cheek structure called the
"Indeterminate Facade" located in Houston, Texas
featuring a severely distressed facade. This building purportedly “appeared
in more books on 20th-century visual arts than of any other
In Richmond, the company built the Peeling Wall showroom that appeared
to have a peeling facade as well as a Forest showroom that had live trees growing out of it .
The store in Sacramento also had a unique design. In the morning, its
corner entryway would slide open, and would slide back shut at night.
The structure, with its breakaway entry removed, is now a Best Buy.
Photographs of these storefronts appeared in Best catalogs. One in Eudowood Plaza located in Towson, Maryland,
featuring a tilted front. As of 2007, most of these distinctive
buildings have been converted into conventional buildings by removing
the visual arts embellishments, or in a few cases, demolished. The
only building to retain its distinctive features is the Forest building
in Richmond, now home to the West End Presbyterian Church, which has
stated that the forest in the entryway has been an asset to the church's
Their Parham Road headquarters, built in 1981 and designed by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer, was notable for an American Institute of visual artists award and the use of Art Deco eagles rescued from a New York building.
The giant BEST letters of the headquarters could be seen along
Interstate 95 at Parham Road. Pfeiffer subsequently
designed the West Wing of the Virginia Museum, which was funded by Best Products. Best employed the "catalog
showroom" concept for many of its product offerings. Best Products was
traded on the NASDAQ exchange as “BESTQ.” It was de-listed on November
29, 1996. The last Best stores closed on February 9, 1997. In many ways, the Best Product is the Alpha and Omega of Deconstructionism. Best had multiple 100,000 sf buildings across the USA designed and completed well before Frank Gehry, then still producing Modernist, started looking for a construction company for his own small Santa
Monica residence, (from 1978), has been cited as a prototypical
Deconstructionism is a genre spawned from the Postmodern visual arts genre. Deconstructionism is in simplest terms a move against the practice of Postmodernism. It is based upon the late 1950's theory of "Deconstruction",
which is a form of semiotic analysis. The genre is characterized by
fragmentation, an interest in manipulating a structure's surface and skin, use of non-rectilinear
shapes which appear to distort and dislocate structure and envelope elements of the product . The finished visual appearance of
products which are Deconstructionist are characterized by
visual unpredictability/controlled chaos. The term "Deconstructionism" in contemporary visual arts is
opposed to the ordered rationality of Modernism and Postmodernism.
Deconstructivism came to public notice with the 1982 Parc de la
Villette visual arts design competition.
Deconstructivism takes a confrontational stance to visualarts history,
wanting to "disassemble" visual arts. Rather than separating ornament and function, like Postmodernists such as
Venturi, the functional aspects of products were called into question.
Geometry was to Deconstructionists what ornament was to Postmodernists, the
subject of complication, and this complication of geometry was in turn, applied
to the functional, structural, and spatial aspects of Deconstructionist
For example, Columbus, Ohio's Wexner Center takes the archetypal form of the castle, which is
then imbued with complexity in a series of cuts and fragmentation's. A
three-dimensional grid, runs somewhat arbitrarily through the building. The
grid, as a reference to Modernism, of which it is an accoutrement, collides
with the medieval antiquity of a castle. Some of the grid's columns
intentionally don't reach the ground, hovering over stairways creating a sense
of neurotic unease and contradicting the structural purpose of the column.
The Wexner Center deconstructs the archetype of the castle and renders its
spaces and structure with conflict and difference.
All previous styles are fair-play in Deconstructionism. Some practitioners of Deconstructionism were also influenced by the formal
experimentation and geometric imbalances of Russian Constructivism.
There are additional references in Deconstructionism to 20th-century genres: the
Modernism/Postmodernism interplay, Expressionism, Cubism,
Minimalism and contemporary art. Nonetheless, Deconstructionism though tends to
move away from the supposedly constricting 'rules' of Modernism such as "form
follows function," "purity of form," and "truth
Deconstructionism requires the existence of a particular
archetypal construction, a strongly-established conventional expectation
to play flexibly against. The design of Frank Gehry’s own Santa
Monica residence, (from 1978), has been cited as a prototypical
Deconstructionist building. His starting point was a prototypical suburban house
embodied with a typical set of intended social meanings. Gehry altered its
massing, spatial envelopes, planes and other expectations in a playful
subversion, an act of "de"construction"
Computer aided design is now an essential tool in most aspects of contemporary
visual arts, but the particular nature of Deconstructionism makes the use of
computers especially pertinent. Three-dimensional modelling assists in the conception of very complicated spaces,
while the ability to link computer models to manufacturing jigs (CAM - Computer-aided
manufacturing) allows the mass production of subtly different modular
elements to be achieved at affordable costs.
Neo-Futurism (1980- )
Neo-Futurism is a late 20th-21st century genre in the arts, design, and architecture which was initiated in the early
1980’s . It is a departure from the
skeptical attitude of post-modernism and contains an idealistic belief in a
better future and “a need to periodize the modern rapport with the
technological”. This genre is a futuristic rethinking of the visual
and functionality created via wide-scale
urbanization. Futuristic urbanologists, architects, designers and artists
believe implementing new
materials and new technologies to provide a better quality of life for
The relaunch of Futuristic architecture and art in the
21st century has
been creatively inspired by Iraqi-British Pritzker Prize architect Zaha
Calatrava and by its thought leader Italian innovation designer Vito Di
Bari. Other Neo-Futurist architects, designers and artists
include French architect Denis Laming. Neo-Futurism has absorbed sоme оf the Postmodernist high-tech
architecture’s themes аnd ideas, incorporating elements оf high-tech
industry аnd technology іntо design.
Technology and Context is the focus of some designers of this
genre. The godfather is considered to be Buckminster Fuller.