International Style

The International Style broadly refers to a modern architectural style arising in Europe in the 1920’s, and in the United States and rest of the world from the 1930’s onward. The style gets its name and identity from Modern Architecture: an International Exhibition, a 1932 show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City organized by Alfred Barr, Henry Russell Hitchcock, and Philip Johnson.

Johnson and Hitchcock classify architecture as International Style by three broad principles: emphasis upon volume rather than mass, regularity arising from standardized elements rather than axial symmetry, and emphasis on proportions and materials rather than arbitrarily applied ornamentation.

Things to REMEMBER:
1. arises from theories, forms, technology, and construction methods developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by individuals, movements, and design schools
2. particular importance is for the German School, the Bauhaus, and Walter Gropius
3. Another significant contributor to the International Style is Le Corbusier. He believes in a radical architecture as a tool for social reform and suggests new solutions for houses and urban planning. Design characteristics: rejection of the past, decorative ornament, adoption of functionalism, machine precision, and universal form – not individualism.
4. Types: Commercial buildings include exposition pavilions, stores, and banks
5. Architects place buildings that take advantage of the sun, smooth white stucco with large expanses of windows, simple and unornamented facades, and flat roofs.
6. motto “A house is a machine for living in” – Le Corbusier

Furniture and decorative arts follow the concepts and language of design established earlier by the Bauhaus designers and others. Many pieces are by architects. Designs are simple and functional with no applied ornament or references to historical styles. Anonymity, geometry, and hygienic industrial materials are key features. Many pieces incorporate tubular or flat steel for structural support. Upholstered pieces exhibit an extensive use of black, brown, or natural leather to coordinate with the stark interiors.

Symbols and Motifs:
There is no vocabulary for motifs because buildings are usually unadorned. Some architects include unique architectural details that are a part of the building structure, such as those on the Villa Savoye.

Decorative Arts:
Decorative accessories are limited to a few, usually functional pieces, such as bowls or ash trays. Designs, which reveal a machine aestheic, are simple, geometric, and unornamented.

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