Hello fellow readers and bloggers!

Of all the movements we have studied this semester, I must say postmodernism is by far my favorite. Right now we are living in a postmodernist society, making it easier to connect to this design movement over the others.

Postmodernism is said to be the most controversial of all the design movements. It embraces many different approaches to design and refuses to be limited to a single style or definition of what art should be. One goal of this movement was to break modernism’s hold on design by producing more exciting, bright and experimental things. Modernism was based on an idealistic vision of human life and society, where clarity and simplicity were cherished. However, people started getting tired of having to live the same way as everyone else. Postmodernists rebelled against modernist ideas when they started embracing complexity and contradiction. The rise of mass media really helped postmodernism take off because the world was becoming connected in a way nobody thought was possible in previous years. People were finally able to turn on their TV, hear news on the radio, or read articles on the internet to see protests that were happening in the streets.

I would like to thank the one and only, Mary Quant for pioneering the mini skirt in the 1960’s. Longer hemlines do not flatter my petite figure; I have explored knee length, below the knee, mid-calf, etc. However, I still find myself looking like a tree stump with any of those hemline choices.

Not everyone embraced the miniskirt and it started out as a very controversial phenomenon. The repressed post-war generation of the 50’s was raised on utilitarian designs and this new playful attitude really challenged their conservative values. The miniskirt had a big impact over the way youth culture expressed themselves, flourishing in the late 1960’s as this marked the beginning of the sexual liberation movement due to the invent of the birth control pill. It was a way for young girls all over the world to channel their sexuality and fashion sense. Below are two images we saw on the slideshow during Wednesday’s class.

Swingin' 60's young girls. Photo credit to
Swingin’ 60’s young girls. Photo credit to
Women's liberation, 1960's. Photo credit to
Women’s liberation, 1960’s. Photo credit to

Like the miniskirt, punk fashion (beginning in the mid 1970’s) was the way of youth self-expression and rebellion against the norms of society. 1975 through 1979 was a time of personal creativity; mostly exhibited in America by the punk music, while in Britain the focus was broader. In Britain, punk was about music, fashion, and political views upon consumerism and capitalism. Working-class youths were outraged by the rising unemployment and they sought to tear apart consumer goods, royalty, and sociability.

Vivienne Westwood is largely responsible for bringing the punk aesthetic mainstream after designing clothing for Malcom Maclaren’s (manage of the Sex Pistols) boutique, famously known as “SEX.” People pushed the boundaries of fashion and design, which resulted in a strong division between the young and old generations. Some design elements of punk fashion included fishnet stockings (sometimes with intentional rips in them), black leather skirts and jackets, big boots, and spiked jewelry. Female punks often rebelled against the stereotypical woman by combining girly and masculine clothing in one assemble.

Punk fashion, 1970's. Photo credit to
Punk fashion, 1970’s. Photo credit to
Punk fashion, 1970's. Photo credit to
Punk fashion, 1970’s. Photo credit to

I would like to consider the start of postmodernism as the beginning of a new era. Artists of all types were finally allowed to get away from the design standards the modernism movement heavily enforced. It offered historicism, comedic expression, do-it-yourself projects, and most importantly, freedom of choice in design.

Work Cited

“Deborah Counsell.” Postmodern Aesthetics: The Legacy of Punk. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

“The Women’s Liberation Movement Music Archive | the Girls Are.” The Girls Are. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

“Punk.” Pinterest. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.

The Khruschev Kitchen Summary

  • State of the art kitchen was the ideal platform from which to challenge soviet state socialism
  • Ultimate global victory was to be achieved through superior living standards rather than military might
  • Khrushchev regime- achievement of superabundance and devoted a lot of attention to consumption and everyday social life by harnessing achievements of modern technology
  • Third part program (1961) identified social progress with scientific and technological progress
  • Late 1920’s and early 1930’s- reconstruction of domestic life through establishment of communal and kitchenless dwellings
  • 1930- Stalin state stopped gender roles
  • 1936-1944- asserted women social obligation
  • 1950’s- apartments designed for single nuclear family
  • Khrushchev’s housing accelerated process of urbanization so that some had to adapt to apartment living
  • Frankfurt kitchen (1926)- “Labor saving” and “space saving”
  • Khrushchev kitchen founded on common principles of industrial planning and traced to American capitalism

Chapter 15 Summary


  • Acknowledgement of diverse cultural expressions in art and design starting in the 1960’s
  • No single approach to modernity dominated
  • Commercialization of diversity
  • Intertwining of economic and cultural modernism
  • Intertwining of Economic and cultural modernism

Design and Postmodernism

  • Two decades following WWII
  • User oriented approach to design that emphasized multiple interpretations and meanings
  • In conjunction with post-industrialism and late capitalism
  • Design enterprise increased through bath rather than mass production
  • Post industrialism- contemporary term that signaled that the heroic age of industrial mass production had been surpassed by research, service and communications sectors of economies
  • Later twentieth century- Interface between users products and services rather than the form of objects

Postmodern Products

  • Organizations now have the freedom to pursue directions beyond parameters of “good” design
  • Welcomed the return of decoration and historicism
  • Attracted high end commercial interest
  • “Complexity and contradiction” of modernism

Pluralism and Resistance: Punk

  • Beginning late 1970’s and early 1980’s
  • Expressions of punk culture attacked mainstream culture
  • Commercialization of products to effect personal appearance cause outrage
  • Used media to gain attention
  • Response to repression of individual identity
  • Complex in its relationship to popular culture, appropriating multiple meanings of our consumer culture


  • Late 1970’s
  • Reutilization of industrial products and materials for public and domestic space
  • Using color and representing unfinished textures of concrete and metal
  • Exposed ventilation ducts, pipe-railings, prefabricated industrial building materials, perforated spiral staircases
  • Furniture was a focus of high-tech design

Expanding Definition and Role of Design

  • Human centered design practice extended beyond products to services and business practice
  • Designers, engineers and market department work together to consider different points of view
  • Inclusion gave workers a stake in an expanded design process
  • Technology continues to play a role in the expanding design practice
  • Expanded concept of branding, integrating typography, graphic design, office and retail interiors
  • Connecting products with users
  • Herbert Simon’s expanded definition- design activity emphasize interface between technology and human beings, information as the common denominator. Raises possibility that designed or artificial environment is becoming less distinguishable from nature itself.

Cold War: The Space Race

Hello fellow readers and bloggers!

It seems like it was just yesterday that we had our first History of Modern Design class; a synchronized sound of syllabi being gently passed around resembled a million fluttering butterflies, freshly sharpened pencils laid atop the desks, word documents pre-saved as “Notes: Day One.” Our once uninhabited notebooks now hold hurried jottings from slideshow lectures; our once unacquainted minds now exposed to knowledge and experiences of various design movements. Although this class is nearing the end of its term, I am very content with everything I have learned and it has been a pleasure to see how my peers processed our weekly lessons/excursions through their blogs.

Although we did not go on any field trips this week, I was intrigued by my classmate’s presentations and I learned more information about some of the designers we talked about in previous class lectures. I particularly enjoyed Rino and Shyam’s presentation on the aesthetic designer, Christopher Dresser. They did a great job describing and pointing out the cultural influences on Dresser’s designs in a very organized way.

Wednesday’s class was all about the Cold War, the epic struggle between USSR communism and USA democracy and capitalism. They ultimately tried to fight the Cold War by demonstrating their power and technology, and that new technology heavily impacted major design decisions of that time.

One thing that really caught my attention was the Space Race. This is when the USSR and the USA tried to show that they had better scientists and technologies by achieving certain space missions first. Sputnik was the world’s first man-made object to be played into earth’s orbit, launched by the Soviet Union. Following this, the world of design adopted a futuristic, technological approach. I am a huge fan of the futuristic, space-age aesthetics so it was fascinating to be able to see when it all began.

“Lost in Space” was a popular TV series that aired in 1965, eight years before the launching of the Sputnik. This movie can best be described as a combination of old-fashioned domestic sitcom with a futuristic vision of outer space.

"Lost in Space" TV series, 1965.
“Lost in Space” TV series, 1965-1968.

Below is an image of Paco Rabanne’s 1967 “Chainmail Dress”, made from plastic pailletes with metal wire and nylon, which we saw on a slideshow during class this past Wednesday. In the 1960’s people of all fields made innovative use of new technologies. Rabanne rejected the common understanding that clothing needed thread and fabric in order for it to be a garment, and he shocked everyone when he turned to unconventional materials. All of Rabanne’s designs were inspired by the theme of space-age futurism. This space-age futurism look (along with many others at the time) provided a way of looking new; the aesthetic symbolized “youth.” No one wanted to look like the woman of the past, so fashion designers focused on space-age futurism themes as an alternative to the common street fashion.

Paco Rabanne's
Paco Rabanne’s “Chainmail Dress,” 1967.

Peter Ghyczy designed the Garden Egg chair in 1968 while he was the chief designer at plastics manufacturer Elastogran GmbH in the German Town of Lemforde. The chair’s smooth plastic surface was typical of the space-age design that was a lasting icon of the 1960’s style. The original version of the chair is currently on display at the Victoria & Albert museum, where “Its UFO form, portability, and sustainability for informal lounging make it very characteristic of the period, reflecting the progressive, Utopian visions prominent in contemporary designs.” I love this chair so much because you can leave it outside without worrying about the rain affecting it. All you have to do is close the chair after you’re done using it, and it is protected. It is also so adorable! I definitely want to purchase one for my future abode.

Peter Ghyzczy's
Peter Ghyzczy’s “Garden Egg Chair,” 1968.

Generally people correlate the 1960’s directly with the hippie counter culture movement, forgetting about other equally important things that occurred earlier on in the decade. What is most important is that it was a time for change, and the introduction to new concepts that have never been seen before. One concept in particular was how the Space Race inspired a space-age futurism aesthetic, which we continue to develop today.

Work Cited:

“Evening Mini-dress, Paco Rabanne.” Evening Mini-dress, Paco Rabanne. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

“Lost in Space (1965-1968) Retrospective.” Kap13. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

“Victoria and Albert Museum.” Online Museum, Web Team, Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

Post World War II Modernism: Royal Festival Hall (or Southbank Center)

Hello readers and bloggers!

The Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic movements were all about extrinsic beauty and the inspiration came from various styles of architecture. The Art Deco and Modernism movements expressed a taste for intrinsic beauty, where the structures themselves contained inherent properties that were beautiful. To them, beauty expressed the function of a building (or object) and its structure.

Last week when the class learned about modernism, we focused on key architecture and design in Europe from the 1920’s to 1930’s. The topic we explored this week was post World War II modernism, when new technologies and new materials led to mass consumption.

The first major public building that was constructed after World War II was the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, which our class had the privilege of visiting this past Wednesday. In 1951, the Festival of Britain was designed to lift spirits after World War II and celebrate Britain’s contribution to society in the arts, science, technology, and industrial design. After the austerity of the post-war years, the Festival of Britain put color and excitement back into the people’s lives. Among the London festival planners were many members of the council of Industrial Design (COID). Their aim was to promote the improvement of design and material in the products of British industry.

Aerial view of the Festival of Britain. Photo credit to:
Aerial view of the Festival of Britain. Photo credit to:

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Modernism: The “Sun House”

Hello readers and bloggers!

This past week the class was introduced to the “modernism” design concept. When talking about modernist architecture and industrial design from the 1920’s to the 1930’s, people generally turn to the phrase “form follows function.” Modernist designers insisted that architectural designs should have no extra ornament than is necessary to function. They rejected ornament in design because they were trying to steer away from Victorian and art nouveau styles. Instead, they preferred to emphasize the materials used as well as pure geometric forms. The industrial revolution was improving the lives of many European artists, designers and architects with new technologies, and the European modernists incorporated a lot of concrete, glass and steel in their creations.

Apart from learning about the modernist movement and art deco at the turn of the 20th century, the class took a trip this past Wednesday to look at a few houses in Hampstead that went along with the modernist design concept. Upon our arrival, I completely forgot about the seemingly eternal tube ride, taking in the fresh suburban air and adorable little shops.

High Street, Hampstead.
High Street, Hampstead.

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Aesthetic Movement: Frederick Leighton’s Arab Hall

Hello fellow readers and bloggers!

For my last History of Modern Design class, we were taken on a trip to the Leighton House. I was very disappointed when one of the women working there said there was to be no photography because I had planned on taking many pictures of Leighton’s extravagant abode.

An aspect of every room was inspiring to me in different ways. The flocked velvet red walls of the dining room made me want to put on a silk gown and have afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth! I appreciated how the wall color in the drawing room complimented John-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Four Times of Day paintings perfectly.

Frederick Leighton's Dining Room, present day. Photo credit to
Frederick Leighton’s Dining Room, present day. Photo credit to
Frederick Leighton's Drawing Room, present day. Photo credit to
Frederick Leighton’s Drawing Room, present day. Photo credit to

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