Art Deco house
The recent posts on this blog regarding Po Mo Bauhaus and anything and anybody’s opinion on the pros and cons is a repeat of the arguments on the subject since its conception in 1919 – as Bauhaus.
If nothing else despite its critics, some who go so deep into the psyche and all else to prove their points one way or another, it has lasted as a movement and an approach both in its influence to what is produced and the way we’ve looked at things for over ninety years.
Whatever its shortcomings – and it has many – it is no more nor less than previous periods of design influence.
The Van Alen building James uses as a header to his piece is to all intents and purposes a hybrid between Modernism and Art Deco, as both periods originally overlapped. It’s hardly surprising that one would draw from the other – many Art Deco buildings of the period are virtually indistinguishable from a Gropius design; others are far more of the “Deco” style and Deco itself had many hybrids.
Gropius lived in the house shown here and below is a pretty typical Art Deco property, one hated by many and the Art Deco one and its kind loved by many.
In the case of the Art Deco house, it is quite naturally associated with a further movement that was very different in culture and reason for being than Modernism and yet Art Deco went the way of all the other style statements. Modernism or PO remains in its influence.
I’m not going to be drawn on a right or wrong approach to what modernism is all about it as it has been done to death by critics – believers, non believers, people who think it stems from an inner belief in loving/hating mankind and imposing a style in spite of on the world and numerous others, many who have made their feelings known on this blog.
Me? Well I have always appreciated what to eye appeals, does the job it was designed well and stands the test of time and that for me applies to almost any period or style. I’m not of the one size fits all brigade that many would see as the “solution” and I am vehemently against a one eyed approach to the future as in the case (and this is just a popular example) of Prince Charles who would have everything looking like St Pancras station if he had his way.
And if Poundbury is put up as a way to the future have a look at it, it’s a cold pastiche of an English village that never was, like looking at the Prisoner in Port Merion – soulless and without the buildings Port Merion has to carry off, but even if people like it by association or otherwise is their prerogative. Celebrity in its many forms has a big influence on people’s choice.
But where modernism has had an influence that is not questioned is in everyday industrial and interior design. Strangely, this does not create the same polarised opinions in anything like the amount that buildings themselves do, despite the fact that many of the former were designed in conjunction with the latter.
Many indeed have become design classics, from kitchen utensils, gadgets lighting and furniture. A lot of Bauhaus and school of designs are still being produced in large numbers and many are still much prized as objects that fulfill their original function as much now as when they first saw the light of day.
The Corbusier lounger below and the Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe are just two of the many items albeit the most high profile that are still a staple of the modern interior, and the “Wassily” chair by Marcel Breur is another that falls into that category.
I could go on to catalogue a vast range of items that have and still play a part in modern living deriving from the modernist movement, but it would be just that a catalogue. What I am showing instead is an example of modern designers’ wares for one company over a period of time that are familiar to many people whether they realize the origins or not.
Deiter Rams joined Braun in 1955 as an architect and interior designer, having qualified with honours in those subjects at the Wiesbaden School of Art. He became chief of design at Braun in1961 and remained until 1995 in that position. His legacy of items such as record players, slide projectors , coffee makers clocks etc etc is mind blowing, his base line in design was “Weniger, aber besser” which translates as “Less, but better”.
A philosophy that includes his principles included:
Is innovative- The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.
Makes a product useful- A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.
Is aesthetic- The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.
Makes a product understandable- It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user’s intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.
Is unobtrusive- Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.
Is honest- It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.
Is long-lasting- It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.
Is thorough down to the last detail- Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.
Is environmentally friendly- Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimizes physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.
Is as little design as possible- Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.
Some of his items are included here:
He is one of many in that field who have shaped the items we take for granted today. Is that bad? I don’t think so.