The 20th and 21st century in design was all about answering questions and exploring new ideas. Design was at a strong point and developments, inventions and creations were being made as different opinions and ways of thinking were being introduced. Because of the varying thoughts around the country, the question of “what is design?” came up. The difference between Interior Design, Architecture, decorating was part of this design question as well as the idea of whether design should be International design or local design. All together, the three focuses of the 20th and 21st century were to explore new ways of thinking about design, what it actually entails, and bringing back more traditional ideas while still looking towards the future for new advancements.
One of the many questions was whether design should encompass international ideas or just stay locally. World’s fairs were being introduced as a way to explore this thought because they had both concepts from other countries as well as new ideas going through America. The main purpose behind the world fairs was about commemorating events, showing government supported commercial items to sell to people, collaborating with other counties and celebrating new inventions and food. Iron, steel and glass were displayed as a recreation of traditional objects. With all of these new ideas in one central location, many wondered what implication it had for architecture and design. This notion led to the argument between modern, contemporary and postmodern design and what does design entail ?
Design is a broad term used to describe the way something is created and looks. Three different “design” views were emerging in the 20th century: Decorating vs. Interior Design vs. Architecture. Going back to previous terms and units, Decorating explores surface changes and makes the first appearance look pleasing to the eye ; looking at the delight piece. Interior Designers go a little beyond that and work with surface elements as well as starting to look at structural detail; looking at commodity and delight. Architectures look at the biggest scale: the building as a whole; commodity, firmness and delight. So, which one is the correct way to go about “designing”?
Also going on during this time was the questioning of modern design. The terms modern and postmodern designs were being introduced as two ways to classify the design of the current century. Some ideas for defining Modernism were that the buildings looked the same no matter where they were built in the world and the first characteristics were cold, robotic, and machine like. On the outside, they were covered in new materials, but on the inside they still kept with the traditional,historical elements of past designs. In the 1950’s; however, the idea of how to mix modern and contemporary arose. The Sydney Opera House encompasses the mix of these two esthetics because it is made out of both concrete and glass but offers more soft curves and not as much glass as some of the other modern buildings. As designers and architects were creating the different buildings and trying to piece many elements together, the notion of “good design for all” came into play. They were trying to create something that everyone would enjoy and work across many scales and cultures. Some were more successful than others because it is hard to please everyone with one structure.
The 20th and 21st century brought up new ideas and innovations because it was the century of questioning. I believe many parts of the questions are still being answered today as we look around at the many different styles and buildings. We have both local and international design influence in almost every city. Decorators, interior designers and architects all practice today and offer different views on design but deciding which one is the correct way to go about “designing” and influential on how design is running its course is a question that is still evolving. Finally the question of what is modern, contemporary and postmodern is still a large question that has no defined answer or stopping point. We can look back at these centuries for ideas and explanation on some of the though processes behind the buildings we have today, but most of all, I believe the 20th and 21st century really represented our world as a whole. It represented the turning point of cultures and influences mixing together and people really starting to question the things around them instead of accepting them for what they were.
Guggeheim Museum : Frank Lloyd Wright : Modern Example
The Guggeheim Museum in New York is an example of a Modern Building "gone wrong." It encompasses the thoughts of the 20th and 21st century because it is a modern expression, but is not "good design for all." At first glance at the outside, it look like a great design with movement. It gives a glimpse of what is going to be inside. However; on the inside it is not functional nor is it practical. The rounded walls make it hard to hang artwork and the flow of the space makes it difficult to get anywhere in a timely manner. Although Frank Lloyd Wright attempted to look at the structure from an Architectural standpoint, covering commodity, firmness and delight, he really only achieved two out of the three : firmness and delight. It is a pleasing building to look at and stands strong structurally but does not function well.