Monthly Archives: April 2013

Reactionist Styles

The reactions against the Victorian Age and the Industrial Revolution were numerous and very interesting. The Aesthetic movement is a philosophical view celebrating beauty for beauty’s sake. There is no moral or sentimental message and the social problems of the time were of no concern. A disconnection from the ugliness of poverty and industrialization of the time was sharp witted and brilliant as was its representative Oscar Wilde. One strain of the Aesthetic movement was interested in a Western interpretation of Asian design with a focus between contrast of void and presence, dark and light, transparencies and the attenuated line.
Oscar Wilde EW Godwin desk
Macintosh is representative of Scottish designers Charles Macintosh and his wife Margaret McDonald. The Macintosh movement is noted for its own vocabulary of symbolism representing the masculine and feminine and for the first time design was strictly focused on the interior of a home and was not concerned with the exterior at all. The effect of light at different times of the day. The design was considered to be turn-key as they designed everything in the space including furniture, and fixtures. The interaction of the pieces with the light changing throughout the day with a 3-D exploration of concepts. Their work is noted for its strong linear and geometric features as well as the use of their signature Scottish rose.Mackintosh_Charles_Rennie-The_Hill_House_-_interior_hall-c.1903-m
Art Nouveau is a movement in opposition to the industrial revolution and celebrates nature romantically. Cycles of birth, growth, maturity and death represented in the Art Nouveau movement are to put us in touch with nature and restore balance to our souls. The designs are very curvilinear and asymmetrical. There are no right angles. Art Nouveau is a reaction to the Arts and Crafts movement which tried to revitalize the crafts of the past in history where Art Nouveau utterly rejects history as part of its movement. Art Nouveau emphasizes life at the moment of change and seems alive, with a high level of anticipated movement.
There is a focus on botany and biomimicry with the incorporation of insect wings and plants of all types flowing in the designs of Art Nouveau. art nouveau metalwork
art nouveau woodwork art nouveau doorway
The Vienna Secession is noted for its geometric emphasis and linear ornamentation. The Vienna Secession sought an equality between applies arts and fine arts. There is a connection to the Arts and Craft movement but in a much more industrial and mechanical expression in design such as the Thonet chairs of Austria, the Barcelona Chair and the architectural styles of Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson was noted for his medieval style with heavy stone walls, towers and romanesque semi-circular arch known as the Richardsonian Arch. Barcelona Chair, 1929 Mies van der Rohe

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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Chairs of Importance

Barcelona Chair, 1929 Mies van der Rohe

The Barcelona chair designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich has been in production for the past 80 years with very little design change from the original. As a well-known Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe and his partner Lilly Reich based the Barcelona Chair on ancient designs of folding chairs of the Pharaohs and Romans. The Barcelona chair was a key part of the new designs of the period following World War I to revitalize Germany. The Barcelona chair has been one of the most significant designs and is still in production since the original design of 1929.

B3 Chair, 1925  Marcel Breuer

The Wassily Chair, also known as the Model B3 chair, was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1925-1926 while he was the head of the cabinet-making workshop at the Bauhaus, in Dessau, Germany. Despite popular belief, the chair was not designed for the non-objective painter Wassily Kandinsky, who was concurrently on the Bauhaus faculty.This chair was revolutionary in the use of the materials (bent tubular steel and canvas) and methods of manufacturing. It is said that the handlebar of Breuer’s ‘Adler’ bicycle inspired him to use steel tubing to build the chair, and it proved to be an appropriate material because it was available in quantity. The design (and all subsequent steel tubing furniture) was technologically feasible only because the German steel manufacturer Mannesmann had recently perfected a process for making seamless steel tubing. Previously, steel tubing had a welded seam, which would collapse when the tubing was bent.-Retrieved from:

Cabaret Fledermaus Chair A very fun and interesting mini-chair blog! A fabulous design history site.

Hilhouse 1 chair Charles Remmie Macintosh

Charles Remmie Mackintosh is credited for designing the Hilhouse 1 chair from 1902-1903. He and Margaret MacDonald worked together on all design projects and were married. Mackintosh, part of the British Arts and Crafts movement took inspiration from organic elements and combined them with the modern, simplistic geometric influences creating timeless designs that greatly influenced European designs of the time.

MR10, 1927
Mies van der Rohe was heavily influenced by Marcel Breuer’s use of tubular steel, van der Rohe quickly recognized the compatibility of this revolutionary material with contemporary design. Mies incorporated a new material and a new technology in the use of the cantilever principle. “Architecture is a language, when you are very good you can be a poet,” wrote the acclaimed architect and bauhaus director. Mies van der Rohe designed the MR-10 chair in 1927.

Paimio Lounge Chair, Designer  Alvar Aalto Alvar Aalto, a Finnish designer is famous for his “Scroll Chair”originally designed in 1929. Alvar Aalto won a competition to be the Architect, Interior Designer and Furniture Designer for the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1928.

He succeeded in creating a sensitive environment for the patients to recuperate.His thought in positioning for the sun, selection of soothing materials which reduced Hospital “clatter” noise made a cheerful environment for both staff and patients.

He continued those philosophies to design the furniture, especially the Paimio Arm Chair. The TB patient’s breathing was considered with the 110 degree angle of the chair back, the front curve of the arm made it easy to grip for getting in and out of.

The timber surface was easily cleaned. The use of timber creating warmth negated the coldness of institutions

The Paimio Chair is constructed from both two dimensional molded plywood and laminated timber. The curves are made by clamping layers of veneer and glue over a form to achieve the desired curved shapes.

A straight laminated timber crossbar in the upper back stabilized the framework. The continuous curves of the chair seat and back resembled a coil spring – this provided extra resilience to the plywood design. Retrieved from

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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Monticello & Fallingwater

fallingwater abstract

Fallingwater abstract 1

Monticello aerial

Monticello Gardens

Although I did not travel with our class to visit Monticello and Fallingwater I imagine that it was a wonderful excursion.
Years ago I toured Monticello with my family and I loved Jefferson’s constant experimentation, whether it was in gardening or architecture or his many other hobbies. The sense of classical architectural forms is eclectic yet shows the latest technology of the period and is really a treasury of invention and imagination.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of the Kaufman home, Fallingwater, is a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright in my opinion as one of his most striking thoughts about nature and how we fit into living with nature. He literally put a home on top of a waterfall and carefully shows the limits and beauty of living with the flowing water. His appreciation and gratitude for the natural forms and their influence on his work is obvious. Seeking perfection in architectural form would be his life’s work.

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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Weatherspoon Art Gallery Temporary Installation Work

This week we have been planning the construction phase of our pieces for the class which will be built in studio full scale this upcoming week. Our material and construction methods will develop as we attempt to put our rather large triangular project on display in our working studio space. Desks are moving so we have room to display all fifteen teams’ work. Recertification in the woodshop today gives us the okay to begin cutting the cardboard tubes and figuring out how to connect the pieces. This is going to be a fun and crazy week in the studio.

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Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Projects