Analysis / First Draft / 939 Words

The case studies that I have looked at throughout this piece of writing have supplied an insight into the context in which designers have rejected ornamentation and decoration in modern design.

One of the main themes that have surfaced is that of technological progress and its relation to modernity and design at the time. Within the evidence found it is clear that technology has made an effect on design whether it is the standardisation created by machine set type or transportation and the advancement in speed.

Along with the topic of technology, transport and speed follows the ideas surrounding how the effects of speed and the experience of time had changed. Typography was not something that defined a space, but more so how space defined a typeface. When a typeface is created it is for a specific reason and has a job to fulfil, it has little or no social otherwise contextual connotations, however once used in specific way for example in an era that is modern, industrial or of social progress it then gains them connotations. This is what is meant by the space defining the typeface.

While there were constant changes within cities and the country, it was important to have some kind of constant. This would have been a typeface and its purpose or use. By enforcing these standards of type, it created a sense of conformity. This meant that the typeface could change the way in which people experienced things. Conformity was way of inflicting rules and making people behave in a certain way. For example the train timetables in Gill Sans allowed the public to understand a complex travel system so that they could move easily.

Another subtopic of technological advancement and its effects on design was that of social progress. With society being able to move around it allowed society to change. New experiences and visiting new places meant that the public would have better knowledge of their country. Allowing people to move means that ideas and cultures can also freely move around. Society trusted these modern typefaces even though they were different from what they had seen before. This trust was based upon the eagerness of change, and this change came at the cost of rejecting ornamental design.

As referred to at length in the literary review, Adolf loos was a great believer in how modern design could benefit society and that the appreciation of ornamentation is something of a backwards society. By society trusting timetables and road signs in unornamented typefaces would suggest that society has advanced due to them not needing to see unnecessary or stylistic decoration.

Loos ideas surrounding the rejection of ornament also link to the economic concerns explored within each of the case studies. Loos believed that ornamentation was a waste of resources therefore the use of machinery was much more appreciated due to it being cost effective. As understood, during the poor economic times there was favouritism to simplicity. This favouritism to minimal design was clear in products produced post second world war when plastic and mass production were at their height.

It is apparent the economy determines quite significantly the process of design. With economy to consider it forces the designer to make conscious choices of materials and mediums. For example the rise of capitalism in the Victorian era meant that making profits within manufacture was important. Handcraft production meant that labour costs were high and this was not economical therefore the concept of modern machine created products was much more appealing.

Modernity and the significant change it had visually on culture and design was massive but it also had a change on people’s perspective. The basic ideas of modernity were not just concentrated in design but also a way of living. Standardisation of systems and products meant that there was an increase in the quality of life. Travelling by car, using mass-produced products and the freedom of movement meant that modern life allowed people to live the way they wished.

The international style was a result of the immense interest regarding modernity largely favoured by those in Europe. The ideas of form, function, purpose and clear intent were obvious within every design piece. However this theme of simplicity and standardisation that is within the each case study also suggests the problems regarding this resistance against ornamentation.

By ornamentation being criticised and suggested to be old fashioned creates a kind of fear within designers. There is a reluctance to use any kind of decoration in case of being accused of being superficial and creating just aesthetical design for the purpose of fashion.

This was not so much the issue with the international style, as its problems were not because of fashion or being superficial but by creating an international style it created problems for cultural and national identity. The theme of society and standardisation was seen as a way to remove barriers that prevented society mixing ultimately it is this what diluted the traditional design differences between countries.

The issues and concerns that Adolf Loos raised may have been taken too literally by designers eager to make conscious change. Regarding the rejection of ornament I don’t feel that this necessarily means that a design is automatically better. This goes the same for decoration, but I do feel that meaningful design elements that may decorate the page are acceptable to use. If an added element allows the message to be commutated clearer then this works. Problems only occur when fashion and design trends become the focus of a designer. If each design outcome looks the same then the designer is not listening to the design needs.

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