Explain Modernism

Explain Modernism. Design expert Deborah Burnett explains Modernism as it relates to furniture design. Right after World War I back in France you have the moderne movement. Moderne is a French word to distinguish...

Right after World War I back in France you have the moderne movement. Moderne is a French word to distinguish the furnishings of the modern era from those before World War I, which was a catastrophic world event. It affected every nation on the face of the earth and people began to think: "We've got to do something different, we have to be more modern in the way we think, we can't let this happen again. We need to be clean-lined in our architecture and furnishings, in our thinking, in our thoughts, in our governments. We don't need all of these pompous aristocrats telling us what to do. We need to simplify." So the moderne effect came in and here in the United States we started paying attention to it but called it modernistic. The modernistic styles started coming in and all of the styles that we see today in 2005, the butterfly chairs, the Eames chair, the very free formed functional chairs, the glove chairs, all of these chairs that look so cool today, all of our kid's college dorms, all of our high end apartments in New York City have these chairs and they were all designed in 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914 all the way up to about 1930's. These chairs were designed during that period and then when industrialization started kicking in after World War II, this is when we really started getting cool with what we could produce and mass produce. This is where we were taking those chrome chairs and bending them and we were taking the really cool diamond patterns in our chairs and making intricate designs with the chrome and stretching fabrics with four way stretch. The fabrics before just stretched two ways, right and left, up and down, and four way stretch fabrics enabled the fabrics to go in all directions. When post-modernism, which is after World War II, starts coming in, this is where we have everything happening all over again - people are sitting back and thinking and starting to look back on history.


They began going back to the classics again and then Vietnam comes and times are hard again and there's lots of confusion. When you don't know what's going on, you pull back. So in the 60's and 70's the Colonial style started coming back in America. We started seeing navy blues, dark greens, and burgundy again. We started seeing Windsor and Colonial wing chairs and camel back sofas come back. The attitude was: I want to march forward, I want to be modern, I want to do my own thing. I've got all of this industrialism at my hands. I want to make my mark. I want to do what the art d├ęcor people did. I want to set something up and be really cool. I want to use classicism, I want to use the French, I want to use the English, I want to throw it all together. I want to make it really cool. I want to make it fashionable. I want to throw it in a big pot. I want to have it all just like the Victorians did, but I don't want it to be heavy and fussy. So when they brought their style in, they brought it in with chrome and hot orange and lime greens and hot pinks, whereas the Victorians had yellow-based greens and rusty oranges and light yellow greens and pink corals.

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