Modernism in the decorative arts is a design and architectural style that emerged in the early 20th century. It is a movement that sought to break away from traditional styles and embrace new forms, materials, and techniques. Modernism was a response to the industrialisation of society and the rise of mass production, which made it possible to create objects and buildings on a scale never before seen. The movement was also influenced by new artistic movements such as cubism and futurism, which emphasised abstraction, geometric shapes, and a focus on the present and future rather than the past.
In the decorative arts, modernist designers rejected traditional ornamentation and decoration, instead embracing clean lines, geometric shapes, and a minimalist aesthetic. They sought to create objects that were functional, efficient, and beautiful in their simplicity. This approach was reflected in everything from furniture and lighting to textiles and ceramics. Modernist designers also experimented with new materials such as steel, glass, and concrete, which allowed them to create objects and buildings with a sleek, industrial look.
One of the most famous modernist designers was Le Corbusier, who believed that architecture should be “a machine for living in.” He designed buildings that were functional and efficient, with large windows to let in natural light and open floor plans that allowed for flexible use of space. Another key figure in the modernist movement was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who famously declared that “less is more.” He designed buildings with simple, clean lines and used materials such as steel and glass to create a sense of openness and transparency. Pierre Jeanneret was also a modernist designer. He was a Swiss architect and furniture designer who worked alongside his cousin, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier. Together, they were instrumental in the development of modern architecture and design.
In the decorative arts, modernism had a profound influence on design in the 20th century and beyond. It paved the way for new forms of expression and experimentation, and its legacy can be seen in everything from contemporary furniture to cutting-edge architecture. While modernism may have been a reaction to the industrialisation of society, its impact on design continues to be felt in a world that is increasingly defined by technology and innovation.
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