DESIGN IN A NUTSHELL: BAUHAUS, MODERNISM & OTHER DESIGN MOVEMENTS EXPLAINED BY NEW ANIMATED VIDEO SERIES

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gothic Revival

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England. Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival architecture often has certain features, derived from the original Gothic architecture style, including decorative patterns, finials, scalloping, lancet windows, hood moldings, and label stops.



Arts & Crafts

The Arts and Crafts Movement was an international design movement that flourished between 1880 and 1910, especially in the second half of that period, continuing its influence until the 1930s. It was led by the artist and writer William Morris (1834–1896) during the 1860s, and was inspired by the writings of John Ruskin (1819–1900) and Augustus Pugin (1812–1852), although the term “Arts and Crafts” was not coined until 1887, when it was first used by T. J. Cobden-Sanderson at a preliminary meeting of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society.

The movement developed first and most fully in the British Isles, but spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and North America. It was largely a reaction against the perceived impoverished state of the decorative arts at the time and the conditions in which they were produced. It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often applied medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. It advocated economic and social reform and has been said to be essentially anti-industrial.



Bauhaus

Bauhaus was an art school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term Bauhaus — literally “house of construction” — was understood as meaning “School of Building.”

The Bauhaus was first founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. 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 architecture department. Nonetheless, it was founded with the idea of creating a “total” work of art in which all arts, including architecture, would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style later became one of the most influential currents in modern design, Modernist architecture and art, design and architectural education. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

The school existed in three German cities: Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933, under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime. The Nazi government claimed that it was a center of communist intellectualism. Though the school was closed, the staff continued to spread its idealistic precepts as they left Germany and emigrated all over the world.

The changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors, and politics. For instance: the pottery shop was discontinued when the school moved from Weimar to Dessau, even though it had been an important revenue source; when Mies van der Rohe took over the school in 1930, he transformed it into a private school, and would not allow any supporters of Hannes Meyer to attend it.



Modernism

Modernist architecture is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely. The term is often applied to modernist movements at the turn of the 20th century, with efforts to reconcile the principles underlying architectural design with rapid technological advancement and the modernization of society. It would take the form of numerous movements, schools of design, and architectural styles, some in tension with one another, and often equally defying such classification. The term Modern architecture may be used to differentiate from Classical architecture following Vitruvian ideals, while it is also applied to various contemporary architecture styles such as Postmodern, High-tech or even New Classical, depending on the context. In art history, the revolutionary and neoclassical styles that evolved around 1800 are also called modern.

The concept of modernism is a central theme in the efforts of 20th century modern architecture. Gaining global popularity especially after the Second World War, architectural modernism was adopted by many architects and architectural educators, and continued as a dominant architectural style for institutional and corporate buildings into the 21st century. Modernism eventually generated reactions, most notably Postmodernism which sought to preserve pre-modern elements, while Neo-modernism has emerged as a reaction to Post-modernism.

Notable architects important to the history and development of the modernist movement include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Erich Mendelsohn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Gerrit Rietveld, Bruno Taut, Arne Jacobsen, Oscar Niemeyer and Alvar Aalto.



American Industrial Design

After “The Great Depression” erased consumer demand, American industrial design set to out rebuild the world of tomorrow and reignite people’s appreciation for objects by making things that previously didn’t need to appear attractive now sleek and desirable, effectively bridging form and function and ushering in “The Century of the Self.”



Postmodernism

Postmodern architecture began as an international style the first examples of which are generally cited as being from the 1950s, but did not become a movement until the late 1970s and continues to influence present-day architecture. Postmodernity in architecture is said to be heralded by the return of “wit, ornament and reference” to architecture in response to the formalism of the International Style of modernism. As with many cultural movements, some of Postmodernism’s most pronounced and visible ideas can be seen in architecture. 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, architects rediscovered the expressive and symbolic value of architectural elements and forms that had evolved through centuries of building which had been abandoned by the modern style.

Influential early large-scale examples of postmodern architecture 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 architecture.

Postmodern architecture 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 architects may regard postmodern buildings as vulgar, associated with a populist ethic, and sharing the design elements of shopping malls, cluttered with “gew-gaws.” Postmodern architects may regard many modern buildings 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, 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.

One building 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 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 shelter.

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