De Stijl


De Stijl, or The Style, is an art and design movement founded in Holland by painters and architects around 1917. The movement strives to express universal concepts through elimination, reduction, abstraction, simplification, and a dynamic asymmetrical balance of rectangles, planes, verticals, horizontals, the primary colors, and black, white, and gray.

Designers formulate a new language and vocabulary for architecture. To do this, they take the traditional house apart, analyze it like an object, abstract it to eliminate traditional references, and then reassemble it in a new way. The new form emphasizes the cube. It is not a solid box, but instead opens up from outside to inside with solid and void relationships established through flat planes.

1. Typical Characteristics are a flat roof, asymmetry, geometric forms, white or gray walls with details highlighted by primary colors.
2. Houses for individuals are the most important.
3. Compositions generally emphasize the separation of planes, the application of primary colors, and the spatial relationship of solids to voids.
4. Rectangular shapes define the geometric repetition of windows, doors, and blocks of color.
5. Window sizes vary on an individual building from large to small. They may be arranged in patterns or one unit on a large wall.
6. Flat roofs are typical, and distinctly different from other structures.

Furniture and decorative arts are conceived as one with the architecture and interior design. Designers similarly emphasize structure, construction, proportion, and the balance between solid and void relationships. They carefully place individual parts to develop visual balance and harmony so that all parts are appreciated alone as well as in context with the whole furniture piece.

1. Chairs and tables are the most important conveyors of concepts.
2. Furniture complements the architectonic character of an interior through its emphasis on straight lines, rectangular planes, and geometric forms.

Symbols and Motifs:
There are no decorative motifs in De Stijl design. Instead, beauty evolves from simple, unadorned surfaces arranged in geometric relationships and from construction detailing.

Decorative Arts:
Decorative arts are limited in De Stijl houses. Artwork is prohibited because the house itself is a piece of art. Few designers create decorative arts.

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Modern Forerunners


At the beginning of the 20th century, certain architects advance the search for a modern architecture to express the spirit of a new age. Industrialization continues unabated in Europe during the early 20th century. This is particularly evident in expanded businesses, more factories, mass production, and the growth of cities. Also, the period marks the widespread adoption of electricity as well as an increase in the number of automobiles, telephones, and cinemas.

Architects and engineers, sometimes working together, develop a new visual language, without reference to previous historical styles, except perhaps through classical ordering or attributes such as symmetry. Form and its manipulation is all important to communicate construction demands, function, new relationships, and a machine aesthetic.

Remember these points:
1. 5 types of innovators arise in the Modern Forerunners style: Form, Construction, Expressionist, Nationalist, and American Innovators.
2. Types: commercial buildings, offices, railway stations, factories, theaters, and garages.
3. prominent city streets, in parks, near large numbers of people
4. Floor plans: designers pay much attention to building function in shaping forms and volumes of space to develop plans.
5. new materials: reinforced concrete (a concrete that has internal metal rods to strengthen it) or brick covering a steel frame and glass walls
6. Natural light enters spaces through large windows, light wells, or skylights.

Furniture and Interiors:
During this period, these innovative architects and designers often pay little attention to furniture and decorative arts. When they do, however, furniture reflective of the Arts and Crafts Movement is often the choice, with designs that are simple, plain, and unadorned.

1. Peter Behrens: architect from Germany, provides furniture for particular projects with selected examples published internationally.
2. Frank Lloyd Wright: North America, is another exception because he creates furnishings and decorative arts for his buildings as a part of the whole concept.
3. Wright’s office chairs, desks, and tables often convey an architectonic quality, simplicity, concern for human scale, and inventiveness.
4. Compositions are sever, angular, and often uncomfortable.
5. Furniture designs usually appear as parts of a whole integrated unit like his interiors.

Symbols and Motifs: There is no vocabulary for motifs because buildings are generally unadorned. Some architects include unique architectural details that are a part of the building structure.

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Chicago School


The Chicago School comprises an intellectually elite group of progressive architects in late-19th-century Chicago, Illinois. They introduce the skyscraper, a new building type for the new 20th century. This multistory structure establishes a new design language for commercial buildings and comes to dominate the urban landscape. Skyscraper expansion is helped by phenomenal commercial and business growth, national corporations, new technologies such as the elevator and the typewriter, and inexpensive steel.

Significant advances in construction technology affect the structure, form, and composition of buildings in Chicago, New York City, and other metropolitan areas.

Important information to remember:
1. Types: Commercial office buildings dominate steel frame construction throughout Chicago and New York City. Other common types include auditoriums, department stores, and libraries.
2. Office buildings and large complexes sit on prominent city streets, often on corner lots.
3. floor plans are generally rectangular or square, so buildings form a rectangular box or sometimes a U-shape
4. exterior walls give no hint to interior metal skeleton
5. building facades exhibit large scale, verticality, repetition, order and simplicity
6. buildings show wide expanses of glass windows arranged in rectangular grids that cover most of the facade
7.doors are monumental entryways, often with large arches or rounded by heavy architectural features
8. roofs are not VISIBLE, becuase they are either hidden by projecting cornices or are too high!
9. look for these give aways: projecting cornice at roof level, emphasis on straight lines, Chicago-style windows in a grid across facade, rounded corner to address the street, stringcourse separating base from middle section, large display windows, and a hint of Art Nouveau at entrance.

During the last half of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, office furniture differs little in form and appearance from residential furniture. The simple boxlike furniture of the American Arts and Crafts period is very popular in many offices.

Desks are made of wood and three types: rolltops, slant tops, and flat tops with drawers on one or both sides.
Desk chairs range from simple turned or bentwood chairs to Windsor types.
Paper is LIFE! So you need storage for all that paper in either shelves or cabinetry
Filing cabinets become a rage afte the turn of the century thanks to the Centennial Exposition of 1876.

Symbols and Motifs and Decorative Arts:
Some buildings have classical details, such as pilasters or stringcourses. Sullivan incorporates plant fomrs and geometric designs, such as the square, oval, and rectangle. Decorative arts are sparse with most furniture and interiors being ordered from catalog.

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Vienna Secession


Vienna Secession strives to create a modern style devoid of historicism and free of academic stagnation. Founded in 1897, in Vienna, Austria, by a group of artists, sculptors, architects, and designers. Rejecting the more flamboyant Art Nouveau expressions, the Secession advocates simplicity, rational construction, and honest use of materials, which will, in turn, influence subsequent modern developments.

Secessionist architecture strives to evolve from and, at the same time, reform modern life. Design goals include rectangular and cubic forms that dominate the composition, monumental mass, sparing use of ornament, and an emphasis on function, light, and air.

Types: Projects include offices, railway stations, museums, shops, galleries, churches, large apartment complexes and tenement houses.
Site Orientation: important buildings are placed as street focal points. Tenement houses are arranged in grids or grouped together to form neighborhoods.
Here are some hints to if it is a Vienna Secession building: they have sculptural figures to accet the roof, straight rooflines, tall slender windows in rows that repeat across the facade, marble tiles with aluminum bolts, an emphasis on straight lines and vertical movement, a glass canopy over the entrance, and dark entry doors with glass panels in a grid formation.

The Wiener Werkstatte, which designs most of the furniture and decorative arts, is strongly influenced by the craftsmanship focus of the English Arts and Crafts Movement as well as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s innovative furniture that is individually designed for each space.
Equally important is the principle of harmony between the exterior and interiors.
The furniture reflects an architectural quality, strong geometry, and rectilinear emphasis like the exterior as well as excellent craftsmanship.
Forms are practical and severely plain.
Members integrate the furniture with the interior to create total works of art.

Symbols and Motifs:
Motifs are squares and checker patterns in black and white or in solid and void renditions like dots, repetitive geometric designs, medallions, circles, carved floral ornament, sunflowers, philodendrons, roses, and laurel trees or leaves.

Decorative Arts:
Like furniture, decorative arts reflect the Wiener Werkstatte design vocabulary. Conceived as part of total works of art, the glass, metalwork, tablewares and even cutlery feature geometric forms, shapes, and details.

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Art Nouveau


Art Nouveau is a complex, eclectic international movement that comprises various styles in Europe and North America. It has two general trends, one is a stylized organic, curvilinear form called Art Nouveau. The second, more rectilinear, geometric, and abstract trend is called Jugenstil.

Art Nouveau is a conscious attempt to create a new style that rejects historicism and adopts a new visual language. Art Nouveau design displays some common characteristics. Line, whether curving and sensuous or straight and geometric, is an important principle that designers explore and exploit. Line together with form conveys energy, force, dynamism, and/or growth. Designers reduce motifs and naturalistic forms to their essence, transforming them to their intentions.

Art Nouveau architecture strives to create a modern style free from historicism and academic traditions. Emphasizing the individuality of the architect, this new architecture incorporates new materials and industrial processes and an emphasis on structure and function.

Types: Commercial buildings include stores, hotels, offices, schools, churches, auditoriums, concert halls, and metro stations.
Site Orientation: in city centers and because nature is a major design concept, houses may feature lawns or gardens that extend to the interior space.
Floor Plans: open with free-flowing space to minimize visual separateness and to connect interior spaces to the exterior.
Materials: iron, glass and stone combinations
Facades: Exterior facades display movement vertically and horizontally to create a sculptural, fluid expression.
Windows: large and have vertical emphasis

Art Nouveau furniture, designed for contemporary interiors or model rooms, displays great diversity of form, shape, and concept. Some designers reject traditional forms and methods of construction, while others use them as springboards for their own creations.

Types: No particular types of furniture are associated with Art Nouveau, but architects individually design much of it, including small accent pieces such as mirrors, shelves, and music stands.
Features: Like the interiors, furniture displays two trends in form and decoration.
The greatest diversity in all of Art Nouveau furniture appears in the seating where the individual imagination of the creator can find its fullest expression. “translation: you think it …it is possible.”

Symbols and Motifs:
Popular motifs stylized from nature include flowers such as the rose, violets, iris, and water lily, and animals such as the dragonfly, butterfly, snail and peacock.

Decorative Arts:
Art Nouveau greatly influences the decorative arts. Many architects and artists, like Riemerschmid, design metalwork in forms, shapes, and motifs that complement their interiors. Similarly, artists and ceramists create ceramics that reflect Art Nouveau design principles, whether curving forms or naturalistic details or geometric with minimal surface decoration. Also a hierarchy changed between porcelain to stoneware or earthenware.

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Shingle Style and American Arts and Crafts


The Shingle Style, unique to architecture in the United States, evolves from architects’ explorations of New England’s Colonial architecture combined with aspects of the English Queen Anne Style. Buildings are irregular, rambling, picturesque, and covered with wood shingles.

The American Arts and Crafts Movement follows the principles and tenets of the English Arts and Crafts Movement, but interprets them in a more individualistic way and integrates more diverse influences.

Buildings and facts about the Shingle Style:
1. grows out of Colonial architecture
2. types: largely residential, and often defines hotels and retail buildings
3. buildings are located in natural settings with open space and expansive views
4. Floor plans are usually large and rambling and center on a stair hall
5. facades are asymmetrical, horizontal and quieter with fewer textures
6. entry doors are usually recessed in the porch with side lights
7. roofs are gable or gambrel roofs with dormers
8. Look for these features: irregular roofline, steeply pitched roof, windows in groups of three or more, shingles that unify the facade, large porches, and projecting bay or tower.

Buildings and facts about the American Arts and Crafts Movement:
1. derives from English principles
2. three types of houses: Craftsman Houses, Prairie Houses, and Bungalow Houses.
3. Craftsman Houses: by Gustav Stickley – follow his philosophy of simple structure and naturalism
4. Prairie Houses: by Frank Lloyd Wright – follow his admiration of nature and the art and architecture of Japan.
5. Bungalow Houses: by Henry and Charles Greene – follow a carpenter approach to design with exquisite craftsmanship inside and out.
6. single-family houses, hotels, churches and clubs.
7. buildings relate to their environment through use of materials

Like architecture, Arts and Crafts furniture may be designed by architects, such as Wright or the Greene brothers, for total environments, or mass-produced in factories like Stickley’s, or handcrafted in cooperative or utopian communities such as Roycroft.
Most furniture displays honest use of materials, sturctural emphasis, and rectangular shapes.
Look at these examples of each:

Symbols and Motifs:
Motifs of the period are flowers, trees, foliage, animals, geometric motifs, Gothic details, and Oriental images.

Decorative Arts:
Arts and Crafts rooms usually have fewer decorative accessories than in other styles. Guilds, cooperatives, and manufacturers turn out numerous accessories, including pottery, glass, metal work, baskets, and embroidery. However, many objects are handmade by artisans or members of the household.

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English Arts and Crafts

1860’s – 1910’s

The Arts and Crafts Movement, a reform development in England, strives to change the working conditions of craftsmen while improving the quality of design. It emphasizes preindustrial values and medieval-like craft guilds in the midst of rapid industrial growth centered on machine production.

Arts and Crafts architecture illustrates a variety of expressions produced by individualist architects who believe in freedom of expression and frequently experiment with form and materials. Buildings exhibit no imposed style, but appear to grow out of the surrounding landscape and to have been there for centuries.

1. Types: country houses, churches, row houses and single-family houses.
2. Unity and harmony between buildings and the landscape are important concepts.
3. Layouts grow from use not arranged order.
4. These houses have deep roofs with broad overhangs, horizontal windows, white stucco facades with dark trim and no applied ornament, a verandah, and bay windwos that face the landscape.

Arts and Crafts displays similar concepts to architecture and interiors, including revealed structure, truth of and delight in materials, and compositions based upon vernacular or traditional forms.
Types: Some medieval types, such as settles or dressers, are reintroduced.
Relationships: emphasize simplicity, revealed structure, suitability to purpose, and excellent craftsmanship.
Seating: Wood chairs with and without arms are common. Ladderbacks are favored and individual designers adapt these forms to their own design.
Design Spotlight: Remember the armchair upholstered in a “Bird” woolen tapestry with ebonized wood, the Sussex chair, and the Saville armchair…all of which have images below.

Symbols and Motifs:
Typical motifs of the period are sunflowers, lilies, birds, images and letters from medieval manuscripts, Gothic details, and Oriental images.

Decorative Arts:
Designers advocate craft or handmade decorative arts, not only English, but Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Persian, and other cultures. Evident in Arts and Crafts rooms are historic textiles produced with natural dyes, handmade ceramics, metalwork, and wooden objects. The crafts of embroidery and book binding are revived.

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