Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog Post 14: These are a Few of my Favorite Things

Object: Granny's Mesh Bag

 I have been collecting antique Whiting and Davis purses for a long time, and they are a part of who I am. I love to think about the history behind the objects I know have, and wonder about the person who had it before. I love each of these bags, but one in particular is treasured above the rest. My great-grandmother was born in 1903, and experienced the time period from when these purses came from. For a birthday a couple years ago she gave me her own beautiful mesh bag. She died earlier this year, and I love that I can hold on to a part of her that I can actually appreciate and relate to.  

space: the sunken gardens in victoria, british columbia

The most mesmerizing place I've ever been is this garden, placed deep into a lime stone query. It was like magic, like all things beautiful in the world had decided to meet in this secret oasis of color and life. I could probably happily spend the rest of my life in this space without ever growing tired of it.

space number two: Glen Echo

I was torn between the sunken gardens and glen echo, so I decided to include both. I come here to swing or contra dance, and it is such an amazing experience. The dancing takes place in the old Spanish ballroom with is a wonderfully open area, and the atmosphere is just what I would imagine it to be in the 50's. 

Building: Le Corbusier's Notre-Dame-du-Haut

I really tried to choose a different building than this one. I haven't been here before and Patrick used it as one of his top buildings. I knew I shouldn't pick it... but I couldn't help myself. I love it's free form, construction secrets, and light effects. It is so different than Le Corbusier's earlier works and like a breath of fresh air. 
It has a sense of divinity. I can just imagine being caught in these light shafts an experiencing a religious revival. He really understood the space and imitated it with the form of the building. 

Place: Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague Island holds a lot of good memories for me. I went there with a bunch of friends in middle school and had such a fun time. Then I went back with my good friend Olivia May and her family and had an equally adventurous time on the island. And, as if I wasn't certain that this was a place that I enjoyed, I went a third time with my family. Each occasion was so different, but so enjoyable. From crabbing to thrift store shopping, this Island has it all. Plus, it's right next to Assateague Island where all the pretty wild ponies live. Below is a picture of the single theater, the Island Roxy. It is the most adorable town.

Unit Three Summary: Explorations

This unit opens with the world fair in 1851 in the Crystal Palace (London). These world fairs created an opportunity to see the world without leaving home and to open a world of new innovative ideas and share cultural aspects between countries. New products introduced at these fairs are still present in our culture today, including PBR, the zipper, the dishwasher and the ferris wheel. Building structures from world fairs have also endured the test of time and still stand today, such as the Eiffel tower in Paris and the Space Needle in Seattle. These innovative creations of world's fairs have nestled their way into our world views. What would life be like without a dishwasher? What would Paris be without its Eiffel Tower? What started out as a way to impress other countries became an integral part of crafting a modern identity for themselves as a country.

A remnant of the 1889 Paris Exposition

The Arts and Crafts movement was making its entrance around this time with people like William Morris who believed above all in hand crafting and "good design for all." Charles R, Ashbee, a prominent Arts and Crafts designer,  said "we do not reject the machine. We welcome it, but we desire to see it mastered." Their desire for excellence in craft and to make it available to all was a valiant goal, but not very attainable. Hand crafting creates only a limited supply and is expensive to produce.
One designer who can be classified in the Arts and Crafts or free architecture movement is Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's care in the craft of every aspect of his design creation is in alignment with the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, however he did embrace the machine. Wright, of course, had his own Prairie style which focused on a fluid design, the horizontal lines, and the experience of the space. His is also similar to the Baroque style in his "totality of design and experience," from the exterior to the interior to the furniture in the house (Patrick Lucas). Gustav Stickley was similar to Wright in his accordance to the Arts and Crafts philosophy, his horizontal expression, implementation of natural materials, and ability to work across scale.

This is the Wright home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. Wright spent a lot of time experimenting on its design.

Overlapping the Arts and Crafts movement was the Art Deco movement, which aimed to represent elegance, glamor, functionality and modernity. An aesthetic design in nature, it is unlike art nouveau structures which are rich in surface decoration, organic curves, and natural motifs. Art deco design is  somewhat geometric and linear in form. Stainless steel, chrome, inlaid wood, and aluminum are materials frequently used in this futuristic style. 

The Chrysler building employs art deco surface ornamentation.
The Art Deco movement was especially strong in Miami

Another prevalent design style of the time was Bauhaus. With faculty such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers, the quest for "good design for all" was reignited. However, this movement opposes the hand crafted strategy of the Arts and Crafts movement and went in a industrial direction. However, some designs, such as the German Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, were meant to seem industrial but were nearly entirely hand-crafted. 

In this time several forms of modernism evolve.  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe worked of the idea of a glass box, aspiring to create a form that people could adapt to. This kind of "cookie-cutter" building would be an all-purpose structure that could be modified to accommodate new functions. "Mies achieved an elemental and essential simplicity, fusing classical clarity with industrial production (Roth, 528)." However, the same form and materials are not necessarily appropriate for all climates and purposes. These glass boxes frequently turned into hot boxes in the summer months. 

This is a picture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's German Pavillion, actually designed for a world fair.

Le Corbusier was another important modernism designer. He created five points to follow in his designs: a roof garden to prevent wasting space, an open plan, an open facade, ribbon windows, and stilts. However, in his later work Le Corbusier radically changed his style. "These changes involved the molding of space, but more importantly, they revolved around the change in materials...(Roth, 549)."

This is the Villa Savoye designed by Le Corbusier which follows his five point design system

Expressionalsim was "an architecture that turned away from Cartesian logical analysis in favor of the suggestive and emotive power of architectural form as pure sculpture (Roth, 535)." Instead of the functionality Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier promoted in their designs, these architects cared about what their forms expressed. Expressionalism was a "return to 'commodity, firmness, and delight,' with the emphasis once more on delight (Roth, 539)."

The design evolution continues with Brutalism. Brutalism is when modernism has a bit of an undone, rough edge to it. After the perfectionism that the Arts and Crafts and Internationalist modernists strove for, brutalists began "creating a texture of materials seemingly left 'as found' (Roth, 558)."

Movies around this time had a big impact on the public as they saw glamorous interiors in the cinema. This created a new job market in interior design, mostly made up of women. 

The quest for modern is one that has been going on for centuries, and still continues today. This period is really an exploration in modernism and what is means.

Leland Roth's Text book
Francis Ching's Text book
class notes

Monday, April 18, 2011

RR13: classicism meets modernism

two views of design

Today in class we discussed the impact of the design shows on HGTV. Some of the designers on these shows have not gone to school for design, prompting the question of importance of education in design. I used to really enjoy those shows on trading spaces, the excitement and sudden transformations. However, now I can only see the wall of deception these programs build along with their designs. The show revolves around one or two designers who appear to create a design in no time and construct it themselves.  All the people who work hard to put it together are never seen and the plan for the space seems to come together seamlessly. The clients are given nearly no say in the outcome, giving the designer a complete control seldom seen in the real world. The way the shows race through the design and construction processes makes me wonder about the quality and craftsmanship that results in these shows and the full reaction of the clients.

After a year of education in design I see the importance of precedents and understanding the rules and how they have been broken. Those designers who skipped schooling and went straight to this "hyper-real" design scene may have an innate ability to design and create beautiful spaces, but they are limited by their lack of knowledge. The architecture of the past is rich in purpose and meaning and has a lot to offer to current designers. Perhaps because of this unawareness these television designers have of design history, their designs come off as somewhat superficial and achieve a less holistic space than designers such as the Eames.

An impact that the prevalence and popularity design shows have had recently is in the way people perceive design. It is a double edge sword of sorts because while it has made the idea of interior design more wide spread, it also has somehow degraded the word. When I tell people I'm going to college for Interior Architecture they automatically assume that I'm going to learn how to decorate, paint walls to perfection and find the perfect bargain curtains to match. It drives me a little crazy, and I think that these shows are partly to blame.

Blog Post 13: Scandinavian Design

Scandinavian modern design was applied to many areas of design, from building design to product design. Alvar Alto was considered the "father" of this particular branch of modernism.

"Scandinavians are exceptionally gifted in design. They are world-famous for their inimitable, democratic designs which bridge the gap between crafts and industrial production. The marriage of beautiful, organic forms with everyday functionality is one of the primary strengths of Scandinavian design and one of the reasons why Scandinavian creations are so cherished and sought after." 
source: (

other Scandinavian designers: Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Alvar Aalto, Timo Sarpaneva, Hans Wegner, Tapio Wirkkala, Sigvard Bernadotte, Stig Lindberg, Ingeborg Lundin
Paimio Sanatorium: building design by Aalto

The Paimio chair is one of Aalto's chairs that we studied in class

My favorite building that is in the Scandinavian modern style is the Dulles Airport, designed by Eero Saarinen.  I've gone to this airport countless times in my life and never realized its connection to modernism. The building gestures towards the beauty of flight with a roof that curves up into the sky. This building is still used today, and unlike other buildings rooted in modernism, it has maintained its original function. The concept in Scandinavian design that beautiful and functional things should be available to all (similar to the Bauhaus movement) is still apparent today. The core ideas of simplicity, functionality, affordablity,  and productivity (through mass-production) are still implemented in design today. 

My airport!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blog Post 12

After The Matrix, I cannot wear sunglasses. As soon as I put them on, people recognize me.

Sunglasses can be considered an object that represents "good design for all."
Protection from the sun is very important and often essential when eyesight is needed. Sunglasses range from very cheap to incredibly expensive, so some version is usually affordable by all. Sunglasses vary in shape, color, style and shade, so they are very stylistic as well as functional. 

  •  It`s 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it`s dark and we`re wearing sunglasses!....................HIT IT!!                                 Andrew Wittman

  •  On wearing his trademark sunglasses: Without them, I`m an amorphous mass.Bono

  •  It`s a fun product, not a commodity product, so you don`t have to worry about them all the time because your sunglasses cost $700,
  • Andy Liu

  •  Wearing sunglasses at night hurts your eyes after a while.
    Corey Hart

  •  I wish I was born in that era: dancing with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, going to work at the studio dressed in beautiful pants, head scarves, and sunglasses.

  • Catherine Zeta-Jones

    •  My look is attainable. Women can look like Audrey Hepburn by flipping out their hair, buying the large sunglasses, and the little sleeveless dresses.        

    • They have  become a fashion icon, and even an identity for some, but the sunglasses themselves are for everyone and were originally intended to provide coverage from the sun for all people. Though the style and prices vary, the design itself is one that works for everyone.

    RR12: An Architecture Set Apart

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Unit Two Summary: Reverberations

    Reverberations: a reechoed sound; the fact of being reflected

    This word can be related to the design styles of the past. Even when the style has passed, the design's impact creates ripples that outlast the original act and can be seen later on. Architecture is often thought of as frozen music, so the concept of design as reechoed sounds is an appropriate definition. 

    The most innovative designers consciously reject the standard option box and cultivate an appetite for thinking wrong.
    — Marty Neumeier

    Throughout this unit we examined the timeline of interlinking design cycles from the dawn of Gothic age until the rise of the Industrial Revolution. We compared and contrasted each period's encompassing style and saw them as a chain of revolutions, each time declaring their individuality in the way they designed their surroundings. Through the words and examples given by Patrick, Leland M. Roth, and Francis D.K. Ching we explored the architecture and great designers of the past. 

    Over all Ideas

    • Pattern of following and breaking rules
    • Borrowing and rejecting previous design styles
    • Finding a style that defines the time
    • Evolution of design with new materials and resources


    This is a picture of the Hagia Sofia in Constantinople. 
     From the Byzantine art and architecture that were "devoted to reinforcing religious experience (Roth, 298)," came the great Byzantine churches like the Hagia Sofia. These architects loved the illumination and spiritual presence that natural light provided, and aimed to capture it with glittering mosaics and an abundance of long windows.


    Saint-Foy Abbey is an example of a Romanesque church. It has heavier, less delicate features than Gothic cathedrals and does not have the illumination of a cathedral.

    This is Notre-Dame de Amiens Cathedral in France. It exemplifies the Gothic flying buttresses, stained glass, and arched vaults. 
    (Before the rules were established)
    The importance of religion was apparent in the Middle ages as well and the development of churches flourished at this time. The small Romanesque churches of the early stages of this era were more fortress like and had smaller windows, due to the political turmoil they had become accustomed to. However, this absence of light did not last long. The Gothic architecture that came next mirrored the new optimistic outlook (due to the decrease in death and warfare) with "membranes of stained glass which filtered and transformed sunlight so that it symbolized divine illumination (Roth, 324)." The crusaders on their way back saw the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and brought back those design ideas to integrate into their own world, especially that of light in the space. These stained glass windows, almond arches,  and flying buttresses are the some of the elements that define the Gothic style, much more flowing and graceful than the Romanesque churches. The following era referred to this time as the dark ages, a period that "intervened between the glory of Greece and Rome and what they perceived as their own enlightened age (Roth, 302)," but the lack of literature is made up for in the extensive carvings of biblical stories. Essentially, these cathedrals were a "Bible for the illiterate (Roth, 328)," one that did not discern the levels between classes.

    Sant' Andrea in Italy is an ideal Renaissance building. It fits into a perfect square, and has barrel vault ceiling that alludes to Roman baths.

    (The rules are formed)
    In the enlightened period of the Renaissance, Florence, Italy was at the center. With their new clarity of knowledge, they wanted a more rational architecture to express it. Instead of the extreme vertical structure (heavenward push) of Gothic architecture, these new age architects wanted a "balance of vertical and horizontal elements in forms reflecting human proportions (Roth, 353)." This is a change to being more concerned with earthly forms than with spiritual reflection. These designers looked to the buildings of ancient Rome and Greece for inspiration (and the first intended use of precedents) and strove for pure forms using circles and squares- taken from the human proportion. Their goal was to achieve a "sense of balance, repose, and order (Roth,376)," clean and pure. This thought process reminds me of the functionality architects like Ludwig van der Rohe thought to be ideal in the modernism era. The Renaissance period made the rules.

    Rules (western, although the rules for the east were similar):
    provided by Patrick

    • revive the past using classical language
    • strive for harmony and order
    • layer grooves and stacks
    • emphasize surface
    • place man at the center
    • strive for position through patronage
    • move forward in the secular agenda
    • get some perspective
    • expand your physical world
    Honorable mention:
    -wrote the rule book of architecture during the renaissance
    -influenced many other designers, including Thomas Jefferson in his design of Monticello
    -democratized the arch
    example of his work:
    Villa Rotunda 

    The Palace at Versailles perfectly captures the essence of  Baroque. The building itself is horizontal, dominating the earth, which is popular at this time. There is excessive decoration and detail in every aspect of the Palace.   

    (The rules are broken)
    The Baroque period found its design niche in breaking all the rules that the Renaissance had established. Their style continued to be rooted in the forms of the Renaissance, but in a distorted, warped way. It was "an architecture that became what Renaissance architecture was not--complex, multi-layered, molded, and plastically or sculpturally shaped (Roth, 397)." It put complexity, ambiguity, contrast, and variety in the place of the order and clarity Renaissance had in place. As Patrick said in class, "it was architecture on drugs; taking materials and making them do things they can't."The scale in this time was superhuman, not the perfect human proportions of before, and the circle was stretched into an oval. The goal was an emotional impact, which is something, along with their complexity and large scale, the Gothic cathedrals accomplish as well. However, the Baroque goes in a more horizontal direction than the Gothic cathedrals. The designer's job was to focus on the delight the building provided and to leave no rule in tact. This is the last all-encompassing style. From the foods to the apparel to the furniture, everything in the Baroque period had a connection to everything else.

    Amalienburg Pavilion is a full expression of Rococo style

    The end of the Baroque era had a Rococo phase, with less "heavy architectural decorative elements and deep favor of more slender decorative features and a much lighter palate of colors (Roth,429)." This style was like a breath of fresh air from the overpowering Baroque buildings. 

    an example of colonial architecture

    (Following the rules)
    Although America declared its independence from Great Britain, for a while the ties we still held to Europe could be seen in our imitation of their design, such as Georgian architecture. America was especially fond of using design styles popular in France, which is where we get our landscape design and gardens. However, Americans soon made a change and began to follow the rules, finding inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome. 

    Sources: The Roth and Ching text books and class notes


    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Blog Post 11

    By the twentieth century the west had seen many revolutions of architecture. From ancient times, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo architecture was always changing. However, the roots seemed to stay grounded in precedents of styles in the past. For instance, Renaissance studied the designs of the ancients and Baroque exaggerated the styles of the Renaissance. With the new opportunity of glass and iron in construction, and mass production and machinery to make construction easier, modern architects wanted to make things that could not have been made before. They saw, studied, and analyzed those designs before them with the ability no one had before and, after they had their fill of imitating designs of the past, wanted to create a new and different style to represent their place in time. However, the quest for a modern style is not new. Modern is an ever changing concept, and each time period achieved its own sense of the word.


    Function and form come together in this sustainable campus building. The University of Melbourne's new Economics and Commerce building has managed to achieve a blend of beautiful design, comfortable accommodation for students and staff and sustainability. I think sustainability is a new facet of functionality in our time period. Whereas the utilitarian designers of design in the 20th century did not put much thought into the affects of climate on their building designs, new architecture uses the climate to heat, cool, and provide energy for their buildings. In a way this use of machinery is exactly what designers like Mies van der Rohe would have expected science to produce to solve problems that arose, however, designers now actually integrate this new technology into their plans. Some of the sustainable aspects of this building are a "double-glazed facade with the ability to maximize thermal performance and glare reduction, enhanced features for rainwater collection, black-water recycling, recycling of cooling tower water, low-energy light fittings, low-water sanitary fittings, bike storage facilities and showers."
    These features mean that the building will have carbon reductions of 73 percent, water use reductions of 90 percent, 100 percent fresh air, natural light, and a smaller carbon footprint. All this makes for a comfortable atmosphere, appropriate for an education building. 

    Not only is this building functional, but the form seems to fit the purpose of the building. As a building that houses the instruction of economics and commerce, the glittering effect of the glass reminds me of wealth and glittering jewels. The vertical reach of the building, enforced by the columns on the facade, seem to reach higher, reminding me of society's constant efforts to climb up the social and financial ladder. The way it towers over the other buildings in the picture, like those cathedrals in the Renaissance Period, seem to suggest a shift in focus from religious wealth to material wealth.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    RR11: A Modern Style Schism

    Just to note, the utilitarian approach to style received some rebellion just a few decades later. These functionally designed buildings often housed different functions than for what they were intended. The designers seldom thought of things like location, durability or climate and so it turned out to be a very fragile style of architecture. These designers loved the concept of one building for all people and places, but this was not a very practical approach. They believed that our control of science could provide a simple solution to any problem their structures experienced and that machines could accommodate any comfort their spaces failed to achieve. For their obsessive focus on the functionality of their buildings, many did not function well at all. 

    Picture sources