Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Point 5: The Last Hoorah!

As the final submission for this class I would like to say that I have never been in a history class that has been so interactive and engaging to the student.  Patrick stated that he was striving to make history an active continuum and not a passive recollection and I truly think he succeeded and changed the way we see the past not as a vague memory, but a dynamic participant. 
The Explorations unit is by all means the most expressive and fast paced section of history that eventually reflects the lifestyles we live now where design has become disposable and lazy, much like everything else in our society.  But at the turn of the 20th century, design was striving to break free from the classical mold that seemed impossibly glued to every structure in some form or fashion.  Instead of remaining complacent with the same architectural idioms of the past, designers were turning to the arts as a way of giving the mundane uniformity of architecture a face-lift.  Art Nouveau and Art Deco are the first and most celebrated of these design styles grounded in the grandiose visual sensations of art and theatrics.  Examples include The Daily Express Building, Hotel Solvaye, and the Palace Strand Theatre.  These styles celebrated asymmetrical proportions, shiny, metallic surfaces, and new or exotic materials that flaunt irrationality and glamour, all of which contradicts the classical roots of western civilization.
In blatant contrast to this irrationality, there arose the Bauhaus, International style, striving to come up with a design approach that was sensible and could be applied to everyone anywhere.  Examples include the Villa Savoye, the Tugenhdat House, and the Schroder House.  Ironically, their designs which were meant to be functional and accessible to all actually revolved around a ostracizing minimalist ideology where, according to them, less became more but what really happened is less personality became more frigid.  In an attempt to break this polarity, Softer Modernism tried to minimize crisp lines and delineate spaces with expressive curves and cantilevers.  Examples include the Sydney Opera House, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and JFK Terminal.  While the delight of these structures increased, it only escalated the commodity of the building as form rather than function became the primary goal until these were only monumental sculptural pieces that we could walk through.  It was during this time of unconcealed disrespect for the client’s wishes and comfort that the rise of interior design became prevalent as a profession, to provide warmth and personality in an otherwise beautifully uncomfortable building.
 Since the 1970’s, Post-Modernists have been left with the responsibility of picking up the ball and running with it and what we have received are three divided sectors, Historic Preservation, Regionalism, and Deconstructivism, all of which are focused on a sustainable future in one way or another.  Historic Preservation obviously enough focuses on the maintenance, renovation, and retention of significant buildings and reviving that experience.  Regionalism is perhaps on the surface the most sustainable of the three, focusing on local materials, traditions, and styles that fit the character of people in that particular region as opposed to the stark coldness meant to suit everyone in the International style.  Deconstructivism is my personal favorite as it focuses on the potential of the ever changing technological realm.  It is from this field that real inventiveness and playfulness occur and it is the new frontier for interior design to make a name for itself.  I also feel that this will be the most sustainable form of design because structures are built almost exclusively on computers and the material can be structurally tested as well as tell you how much of the material will be needed for the project.  Furthermore, computer aided designs can help pinpoint structural issues prior to the building process, which could help eliminate excess use of material and transportation cost. 
With all of these exciting fields, it is sadly disheartening to look at modern suburbia because it is more of a Nightmare on Elm Street in terms of design features than a domestic refuge.  Yet these design issues are a result of social issues going on in media sources like HGTV that are promoting laziness and spawning a new generation of reality shows that are flat out gaudy and not in the 1900 Barcelona way.  But hope remains in the small but true design circles that few listen to because true design is a contemplative and analytical art that does not pump out fast and mediocre results that offer a bland sense of instant gratification the public so ignorantly desires.   

I believe this is a beautiful example of morphing a decontructive post modern extentsion into an International style building.  The transition from a titanium surface that still holds the form of the previous, brick building which then morphs into this degenerate complexity also adds a sense of unity to the overall compostion of the structure.  In context, this image displays a holitic theme to the explorations unit as it combines a hodge podge of design styles of the 21st century (Bauhaus, Post-modernism, and Deconstructivism) made possible only through technological advancements of the machine.


As Blakeni so briliiantly put it,

"Welcome to............Suburbia"

Need I say more?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chairs, Chairs, and...........Chairs........



Honors History Project: Alumni House

For our Honor's Project in History and Theory of Design II, we had to act as tour guides for a specific room within the Alumni House.  Kayla and I were assigned the Clara Booth Byrd Parlor.  We researched any and all information regarding her background relationship with UNCG while also providing visual evidence through postcards to remember the past history of the Alumni House and further, the campus itself.

Official Invitation to the Dedication of the Alumnae House in 1937

Architectural Rendering of the Alumnae House in 1937

Dedication Ceremony by Julius Foust in 1937

Soda Shop 1948/Faculty Center 1967

College Avenue in 1910

Milkmaids in 1916

Secretary Mrs. Byrd in the Alumnae House (1942)


     In this counterpoint, I choose an artifact through the dominance of the gilded, Baroque mirror in the foreground to accentuate a reflection of the past.  The mirror acts as a portal in history when the world was much smaller and more constrained by isolated regions.  Europe, Asia, the Middle East, all had their own separate design languages almost unscathed by the others due to social idioms, prejudices, politics, and religion yet the emergence of a world wide economy looms in the background evident with influence from the oriental on western civilization.  The clock here may not tell time but it is a dial in the fabric of our design history and a transition from a close minded design system to a more holistic representation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reading Comprehension_7

"By the Skin of our Teeth" (Diagram).

Before I joined this major, I used to think of art as something that was exclusively aesthetic, but I realize now that it reaches a larger scope and encompasses any form of expression simply for the sake of expression.  In the work of Deborah Grant’s, “By the Skin of our Teeth” the relatively simple masses in the foreground are contradicted by the miniscule complexity of the hieroglyphic blur of backdrop ink patterns.  This creates a simultaneous experience of balance and contrast; balance in the interplay of mass and void while contrast in the dispersion of simple forms with complex undertones. 
In this post-modern age, there is much inspiration taken from the visual arts in the formation of architecture.  Roth states, “There is a need for images, for emotion in architecture, a need for architecture to speak to people” (Roth pg 567).  Where once architecture was a field of function, and art a field of emotion, it is no longer satisfactory to consider each its own entity.  Furthermore, the solidity of the sun and people within the painting represent an idealistic view of firmness I believe is generically associated with good architecture while the chaotic complexity of the permeating ink mural justifies the expressionistic side of art.  There becomes almost a sense that art not only plays a role in architecture but the same inspiration takes hold of art.
One form of design that helped blend the boundaries of what we consider architecture and art is deconstructivism, an almost philosophical approach which, “means burrowing deep, to find out what unconscious premises a text is based on and what the blind in the author’s eye cannot see” (Roth pg 600).  Furthermore, it is “an architecture of disruption, dislocation, deflection, deviation, and distortion intended to promote a feeling of unease, disquiet, and disorientation. (Roth pg 601).  A prime example of such an ideology is followed in the Industrial office buildings by Gunter Domenig in Austria where, “a skeletal frame of concrete beams….stretches out from the finished enclosure, as if construction has been interrupted” (Roth pg 598).  A sense of deconstructionism can be clearly seen in Walter Barker’s, “Friday Night at the Ozark Airdome” where forms are deconstructed and blended through a myriad of colors so that only the contrast in the pigments allow one to distinguish the separate forms.  Moreover, the constant repetition of colors spread throughout the painting offers a sense of unity.
In a generation looking past the frigidness of modernism, this exhibit helps bring to light that architecture, more than ever, is trying to emulate the delight in form of art so that architecture, in its own right, becomes a form of visual enlightenment as well as structurally sound.

"Friday Night at the Ozark Airdome" (Rough Sketch).

Industrial Office Building by Gunter Domenig in Austria (Deconstructionism).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reading Comp_6

[[1] A common theme of the early twentieth century found in Roth, Harwood, and Massey set the tone for an understanding of styles in architecture and design influenced by fine art. Selecting either Arts + Crafts or Art Nouveau, TRACE the influences of the selected style in more than two nations. In your answer, you should include evidence from the readings and at least two annotated images as support for your analysis of influences.

            Art Nouveau is a stylistic expression in design that seeks to discard all historic precedents in order to define a new visual language never before seen.  This style is heavily influenced by post-impressionist artists like Van Gogh through the fleeting urgency and molded abstraction present in his works.  Due to the new technologies in glass and iron this dynamic disintegration could be materialized into the organic whip lash structures that characterize Art Nouveau.
This movement began in Europe and was made fashionable through France and Belgium by the works of engineers like Victor Horta who designed the iconic Hotel Eetvelde in Brussels.  The fleeting whiplash metalwork permeates the interior winter garden that dwindles throughout the hotel creating a vein-like, cohesive whole.  As Herni van de Velde so brilliantly explains it, “Nature proceeds continuity, connecting and linking together the different organs that make up a body or tree; she draws one out of the other without violence or shock.  In this way, the metalwork itself is exposed and becomes the structure and ornament, creating an indistinct, continuous flow of seamless, organic elements. 
After witnessing the winding tendrils displayed in the railings and support systems of Victor Horta's hotel, the French designer Hector Guimard emulated this feature in the entry gates of the Castel Beranger in Paris.  His work becomes even more surreal than Horta's in the way that vines engulf supporting columns and the abstracted wiring creates rhythmic lines.  This manipulation of lines became a hallmark for Art Nouveau as it turned the static geometry of lines into dynamic, contorted curves. 
            Art Nouveau also travels to Spain under the alias Art Moderno and is most iconically present in the cryptic, ‘skin and bones’ work of Antonio Gaudi.   His work features an extensive exploration of the line and the potential connections that a line has in common with the human body.  This can be clearly seen in his Casa Battlo where the interior feels like it belongs in a Tim Burton film.  The dining room is littered with creative utilization of lines in the form of undulating curves in the ceiling, biomorphic furniture, and dynamically curved windows.  Also, the specific placement of two adjacent columns closely resembles the bone structure in the legs or forearms., creating this eerie, psychedelic undertone. 
            While Art Nouveau was a short lived style soon to be replaced by the further decadence of Art Deco, it was the first style that rejected historical precedent and focused heavily on the interior.  This was in part due to the heavy influence that artists were having on designers as a new emergence of mixing art with design created a blur between structure and ornament.   

Hotel Eetvelde / Brussels, Belgium / Victor Horta (Massey, pg 35).

Castel Beranger Apartment Entry / Hector Guimard / Paris , France (Massey, pg 38).

Casa Battlo / Barcelona, Spain / Antonio Gaudi (Masey, pg 47).

[2] Originating at the Bauhaus and in the work of LeCorbusier, the so-called Modern movement deeply influenced design and architecture of the twentieth century. The great debate raised by this new approach to design involved the presence of the machine in the design process and final products. SPECULATE about the implications of “machines for living” and the famous dictum “less is more” on design today. Use at least one ARTIFACT, SPACE, or BUILDING in your answer, providing a salient image (cited) and annotation to help bolster your argument.

            The modern movement, more commonly known as the International Style came about as a reaction to the clutter of eclectic, hand-crafted homes and the inefficient molding of space through barricading walls and cramped interiors.  The new fashion became one of volume over mass, implicated by the technology of the machine in its fast inexpensive production of flexible materials.  The concept of ‘less is more’ is derived from the implication that flexible, weightless material generates an ‘opening up’ of space while that material itself becomes reduced only to it functional necessity; hence less material equals more space.  Furthermore, the functionality inherent in the machine became a tool for modeling as structures and homes were adapting to fully meet the intrinsic utilitarian needs for this efficient, modern generation.  As Walter Gropius so delicately claims,

“The nature of an object is determined by what is does.  Before a container, a chair, or a house can function properly its nature must first be studied, for it must perfectly serve its purpose; in other words, it must fulfill its function practically, must be cheap, durable, and beautiful”.  (Roth, pg 524).

The machine itself became a concept for modeling seen most readily in the works of Le Corbusier and his Villa Savoye that is, in part, based off of a 1947 automobile.  The home features elements that were made possible only by the exploitations of the machine as the lower level contains no traditional supporting walls but rather sits on illusionary stilts.  Also, the home features ribbon windows for illumination, an open floor plan with meandering ramps, and a flat roof utilized as a garden terrace that maximizes the use of space.  In every aspect, Le Corbusier strived to maximize the potential of space and the functional use of that space, making his structures a machine for a functional lifestyle whose beauty came from the joinery of an adaptable environment with that of the comfortable ease brought about from the machine.

Villa Savoye, Le Corbusier, (Roth, pg 531).

[3] From the assigned pages in Roth, Harwood, and Massey, SELECT an image that you believe explodes the notion that Modern interiors and objects were black and white. Fully RENDER your own design exploration of that image through color, material, and light and appropriately annotate and cite the image to prove this point.

Tugendhat House Dining Room, (Massey, pg 78).