An article on the LA Times website today raised this interesting question. There are related articles on modern retailing, you can look for them if you like. The LA Times (THE Times would be the New York one), provides a bit of basic history and philosophy. They make a basic connection between Moderism and sustainibility, which is key in our society. If we are to continue to have a society.
They make an interesting point about retailers too often choosing materials based on price point rather than value.
They skip over what we see and feel is an essential truth. Modernism is about forward thinking. Modernism is optimistic. Modernism is about the promise of the future.
What is ‘modern’ seems to be based on designs of the 1920’s, 30’s, 50’s,60’s and maybe the 1970’s. We have lots of modern stuff, little or none is contemporary to the time of purchase.
The example at left, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950’s is a perfect example. How hard would we have to look to find something as elegant, energetic and hoeful designed today?
When, well clearly the 80’s, did we stop looking forward with enthusiasm? Perhaps why is the better questions? Why did society at the height of the cold war build many magnificent building with glass facades?
Why do we now build buildings with mal-proportioned facades of stryofoam and spray concrete? Facades that twist and distort the historical context on which they are based?
Why are newer materials, like vinyl, made to look like an older material, like clapboard? Why doesn’t vinyl siding evoke its own image? Modernism is supposed to be about creating new forms with new technology. Design is not about cheapening the past.
Why do we, as a society, feel a need to look backwards? Why are we looking back towards something comfortable and not looking to the future with excitement?
And where did the color go? While driving yesterday, we passed a remnant of, say 1984, probably September 1984–a plum colored toilet. The look of the 80’s is very identifiable by the colors (black, white, grey, turquoise and burgundy). For the past 20 years ‘color’ has been largely ‘no-color.’ Neutral. Beige.
I don’t have any answers here, just questions. We ponder these questions of design all of the time.