History of Modern Design

History of Modern Design

by David Seth Raizman


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Filling the gap for an extensively illustrated history of modern design, this introduction provides a balanced chronological survey of decorative arts, industrial design and graphic design from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. Focusing on the appreciation of design as a creative activity, as well as an enterprise conditioned by economic, technological and social history, Raizman includes the study of products and furnishing designed for mass consumption, and examines the social context for the democratization of culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781856696944
Publisher: Laurence King Publishing
Publication date: 01/28/2010
Sales rank: 179,165
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

David Raizman is a professor in the Department of Visual Studies at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He has published several studies in journals and books focusing on the art and architecture of Spain in the later twelfth and early thirteenth centuries for the journal Gesta. Professor Raizman is also the author of Objects, Audiences, and Literatures: Alternative Narratives in the History of Design, co-edited with Carma Gorman published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing (UK).

Read an Excerpt

The material and methodology for this book were developed over eight years of teaching a course entitled History of Modern Design in the College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University, and almost twenty years of general undergraduate art history teaching experience. During these past eight years it has been rewarding to hear students reflect upon everyday objects in relation to the values and attitudes of their time, to consider the complex interplay of technological, commercial, social, and esthetic considerations that deepen our understanding of their beauty and the range of their meanings.

One of the persistent difficulties in offering this course over the years has been the issue of a textbook. History of fine art courses are far more common than those in the history of design, and there is no shortage of art-history texts to provide images and narrative to accompany general and more specialized courses relating to a variety of periods and movements. Yet despite the many colleges and universities that educate professional industrial, interior, graphic, merchandising, textile, and fashion designers, I found in my teaching that no introductory text served the needs of a course that integrated material from a broad range of specialized design fields over the past three centuries. Rather than being limited to a single area like graphic design or industrial design, the present survey covers the history of these fields in relation to one another and the common themes they share, whether technology, production, consumption, or reform.

At first I relied upon a list of reserve readings, and in time supplemented these with my own outlines for lecture notes available through the university's computing services center. Subsequently I received a grant from the university to create a website that allowed an appropriate format to be developed for the presentation of a combination of text links and images for study and student preparation. Putting these notes into book form has been for me a formidable task. The required reading, travel, and study took me far from my own original training in the art of medieval Spain, requiring substantial historical perspective to provide a context for studying the objects and a desire to follow through with combining perspectives from both consumption and production for each chapter. In the course of writing and re-writing, I tried to organize the material both chronologically and thematically. Briefly stated, the themes are:


In preparing this History of Modern Design I have benefited from a number of previous studies, beginning with most students' (of my generation anyway) introduction to modern design history, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's Pioneers of Modern Design, and including more recent titles such as Penny Sparke's An Introduction to Design and Culture in the Twentieth Century (1986), Adrian Forty's Objects of Desire (1986), and Richard Woodham's Twentieth-Century Design (1997). There is also the excellent series of books by a range of specialists published by Oxford University Press. These include a number of volumes devoted to period styles (Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, for example), as well as John Heskett's excellent Industrial Design (i98o). Also, Phillip Meggs's History of Graphic Design is a most informative survey of that material with a strong emphasis in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

As I began teaching the history, of modern design, I found myself drawn to the period room and decorative arts galleries of museums rather than to their Painting and sculpture galleries. As a result I've been pleased to observe, in my adopted city of Philadelphia,, that the Philadelphia Museum of Art has redesigned its galleries to merge fine with decorative art in a way which can only aid in the appreciation of our subject. It is also encouraging to note the recent increase in art-historical journals that have devoted issues to the applied arts, and those monographs that have done much to promote interest in the history of design. It is necessary to ma few of the latter, as they greatly aided in formulating many of the sections for the individual chapters that follow: Nancy Troy's Modernism and the Decorative Arts in France. Art Nouveau to Le Corbusier, the Guggenheim Museum's massive catalogue for The Great Utopia. The Russian and Soviet Avant-garde, 1915-1932 exhibition, the American Craft Museum's catalogues for their series of exhibitions on domestic design entitled The Ideal Home beginning with the period from 1890-1910, and Debora Silverman's Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siecle France: Politics, Psychology, and Style. Many of these books incorporate ideas drawn from a significant literature on the study of consumption, stemming less from art history than from social anthropology and the field of popular and mass culture.

Aside from those mentioned above, a number of exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues introduced me to a wide range of material that has been incorporated into this text. These include German Graphic Design (2001), Godwin (2000), and Swedish Glass (1997) at the Bard Graduate School in New York; Henry Dreyfuss at the Cooper Hewitt (1998), the traveling collection of chairs and other furniture from the Vitra Museum in Switzerland (1999-2ooo) at the Allentown Museum and the Cooper Hewitt; Mackintosh (1994) and American Modernism (2000) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1994); the Aluminum by Design exhibition at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh and the Cooper Hewitt (2000-2001); the Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century exhibition in Philadelphia (2000); Will Price at the small Arthur Ross Gallery in the Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania; and the extensive Art Nouveau exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2000).

Recent monographs stemming from renewed interest in A. W N. Pugin, Christopher Dresser, Russel Wright, C. R. Mackintosh and others are filling gaps in our knowledge and bringing new material to light, including the publication of primary source material and a wide range of visual material: they are among the numerous healthy signs of growing public and scholarly interest in an area with wide-ranging appeal to students, artists and designers, art historians, and collectors. Great Britain remains most active in the field of design history, through a variety of conferences, the Journal of Design History, the Design Research Society and its on-line publication Design Research News (DRN), and the number of courses offered at colleges and universities. Finally, the journal Design Issues not only contributes articles on the methods of designers but also frequently offers historical perspectives and reviews. It is my hope that the approach to this introductory text will be viewed as balanced and tolerant, and that the analyses will promote appreciation and suggest the synthesis of description and a framework based upon the interconnections of social, commercial, esthetic, and technological perspectives on design. In addition, as a teacher I have always enjoyed the challenge of comparing works of art from different or even successive time periods that share formal or ideological similarities. I am happy for the students in the College of Media Arts & Design who have made the study of design history part of their education and hope that what they have learned will in some way be incorporated into the contributions they are certain to make to their chosen design professions.

Table of Contents

Preface 8

Acknowledgments 10

Introduction: Thinking about Design 11

Products, Technology, and Progress 11

Designers and the Expansion of Design 12

Discourse 13


Demand, Supply, and Design (1700—1800) 15

Introduction to Part I 16

1 Royal Demand and the Control of Production 17

State-owned Manufactories 17

Artists and Craftsmen 20

Porcelain 22

The Guilds 23

The Printer’s Art 28

2 Entrepreneurial Efforts in Britain and Elsewhere 31

Design in an Expanding Market 31

Wedgwood and Antiquity 33

Commodities and Fashion 36

The United States 38

Popular Literature and the Freedom of the Press 39


Expansion and Taste (1801—1865) 40

Introduction to Part II 42

3 Growing Pains: Expanding Industry in the Early Nineteenth Century 43

A Culture of Industry and Progress 43

New Materials and Processes 44

Beyond the Printed Page 50

Wallpaper and Fabric Printing 52

The American System 54

4 Design, Society, and Standards 57

Early Design Reform 57

Industry and its Discontents 58

Reform and the Gothic Revival 59

Henry Cole and the “Cole Group” 61

The Great Exhibition of 1851 63

Images for All 70

Popular Graphics in the United States 74

A Balance Sheet of Reform 76

Conclusion 77


Arts, Crafts, and Machines — Industrialization: Hopes and Fears (1866—1914) 79

Introduction to Part III 80

5 The Joy of Work 81

Ruskin, Morris, and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain 81

Morris and Socialism 85

Morris as Publisher 85

The Influence of William Morris in Britain 88

The Arts and Crafts Movement in the United States 91

Printing in the United States 98

Chicago and Frank Lloyd Wright 99

6 The Equality of the Arts 103

Design Reform and the Aesthetic Movement 103

Books, Illustration, and Type 110

The Aesthetic Movement in the United States 113

Dress 118

Design Reform in France: L’Art Nouveau 120

Art Nouveau in Print and in Public 125

Glasgow: Charles Rennie Mackintosh 130

Austria 131

Belgium 136

Munich 138

Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the Vernacular 140

Italy and Spain 143

7 Mechanization and Industry 147

Design and the Workplace 147

Germany 148

The American System of Manufacture and Fordism 151

Developments in Merchandising, Printing, and Advertising 154

Conclusion 155


After World War I: Art, Industry, and Utopias (1918—1944) 157

Introduction to Part IV 158

8 Paris and Art Moderne (Art Deco) Before and After World War I 161

Furniture and Modern Art 162

Glass and Metal 166

The Paris Exposition of 1925 172

9 “Modernism”: Design, Utopia, and Technology 181

Futurism 181

De Stijl 184

Constructivism 189

The Bauhaus 196

Beyond the Bauhaus 204

The Printing Industry and the “New Typography” 206

Jan Tschichold and the New Typography 208

Britain and Modern Design 214

Scandinavia and Modern Design 219

10 Design, Industry, and Advertising in the United States 223

Industrial Design and Fordism 228

Advertising, Art, and the Selling of Modern Design in the United States 229

The United States and International Modernism 237

Streamlining 240

The 1939 New York World’s Fair 242

Photography and Graphic Design 244

Industrial Design and Austerity 248

Graphic Design During World War II 251

Conclusion 252


Humanism and Luxury: International Modernism and Mass Culture after World War II (1945—1960) 255

Introduction to Part V 256

11 Modernism After World War II: From Theory to Practice 260

Promoting Postwar Design: Art Direction and the New Advertising 267

Graphic Design and Technical Information 273

Scandinavia and Britain 275

Italy 283

Germany 288

The International Graphic Style (Die Neue Grafik) 291

Means and Ends 296

Japan 298

Design and Corporate Culture 301

Trademarks and Beyond 302

12 Design and Mass Appeal: A Culture of Consumption 306

Detroit: Transportation as Symbol 308

Critics of Styling 313

Resorts and Luxury 314

Housing: Suburbia, Domesticity, and Conformity 317

Beyond High and Low Art: Revisiting the Critique of Mass Culture 322

Conclusion 325


Progress, Protest, and Pluralism 1961—2010 326

Introduction to Part VI 328

13 New Materials, New Products 330

Plastics and their Progeny 331

Product Housing 335

Sports: Equipment and Progress 338

Visual Identity, Information, and Art Direction 338

Laminated Materials 345

Nature and Craft 346

14 Dimensions of Mass Culture 349

Mass Design and the Home 351

Mass Design: The Fringes 353

Pop, Protest, and Counterculture 355

Graphics and the Underground 356

Anti-Design in Italy 358

Radical Reform: Technology, Safety, and the Environment 362

15 Politics, Pluralism, and Postmodernism 367

Design and Postmodernism 369

Postmodern Products 370

Pluralism and Resistance 374

Hi-Tech 377

The Expanding Definition and Role of Design 378

16 Design in Context: An Act of Balance 381

Consumers 381

Reform and Social Responsibility 387

Design, Safety, and Terror 391

Production Technology: Meanings of Miniaturization 393

Design and Softness 396

Materials Technology and Softness 396

Lifestyle 400

Politics, Technology, and the Media 400

Graphic Design in a Digital Age 401

Craft: The Persistence of Process 406

Design and Continuity: Creativity, Responsibility, and Resilience 408

Timeline 409

Further Reading 412

Bibliography 417

Credits 422

Index 424

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