Important Design Movements

Important Design Movements image

Important Design Movements 

Design has gone through many stages of development that can be characterized according to various art and design movements. Eight of these art and design movements are addressed in this blog.

Art Nouveau (1880-1910)

Art Nouveau, meaning "new art" in French was a deliberate attempt to create a world wide style based on decoration. The movement hit its peak in the early 20th century and is characterized by its curved lines and organic shapes. The style is winding and non-geometrical, asymmetrical and uses mostly bright delicate colors.  Art Nouveau is seen in many different types of design including jewelery, textiles, graphics, architecture and interior design. The movement was originally inspired by Japanese culture as it began by using oriental style forms.

Modernism (1880-1940)

Modernism was seen in avant-garde art, design and architecture.  The primary object of this movement could be said to be its desire to be original and innovative. It rejected the tradition and what it saw as conservative values and replaced it with what was different and uncharted.  The result was a revelation of the process and materials being used. The modernists also experimented with form and displayed a tendency towards abstraction.

Art Deco (1910-1939)

Art Deco emerged in the 1950s in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and Scandinavian. It developed into a major style in western Europe and the United states during the 1930s. Its aim was to promote a simple, minimalistic approach to design that kept production costs low. An example of this type of design can be seen in IKEA furniture.  Its produces do however include individually crafted luxury items. In both cases the aim was to produce sleek anti-traditional elegance as can be seen in its use of geometrical, trapezoidal shapes.

Bauhaus (1919-1913)

Bauhaus is the common term used in reference to Staatliches Bauhaus which was an art and architecture school in Germany which taught design from 1919 – 1933. The school was founded by the architect Walter Gropius. The name Bauhaus means “house of building”.  The design school sought to use technology in mass production. Creations such as the desk lamp, teapots, and typography all referenced the rational, geometrical manufacturing processes. The designers of the Bauhaus expressed simplicity in the forms they used and repetition of elements and textures and utilized materials such as aluminum, concrete, steel and plastic.

Designer makers/ Autoproduzione image
Designer makers/ Autoproduzione image

Organic Design (1930-60, 1990-)

Organic Design gained its inspiration from nature and wildlife. Organic design took into consideration the user of the product and the form took its lead from the product's function. This type of design is characterized by its delicate forms, cylindrical shapes and smooth lines. The architecture became one with its surrounding landscape. The design was intended to meet social physical and spiritual needs.

Conceptual Art (1960-1980)

Conceptual art or design is also known as post-object art or art-as-idea. Conceptual design, like conceptual art, is characterized by the prioritization of the idea over form. Conceptual art sparked a redefinition of the traditional relationship between the artist and their audience. The artist became empowered with the ability to work both within and outside the accepted 'rules' of the gallery. Conceptual art and design became one of the most influential moments of the late 20th century and was seen as a continuation and expansion of the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp (1914).

Minimalism (1967-1978)

Minimalism is characterized by the 'stripping down' of a work to its fundamental features. It is a movement that originated in design as it took a lot of influence from Japanese architecture and design. This style of design is characterized by its simple geometric shapes. Designers limited the number of colors, lines and textures that they used within their work. Minimalism was a reaction to the consumerism of society. 

Post Modernism (1978-)

Post modernism developed out of the modernist movement. It began as an architectural style that strove to improve on modernism. Postmodernist design reacted against what it saw as the monotony of modernism and sought to replace, for example, urban grids with ambiguous forms. However, the style drew inspiration for many historical styles and blended them making it hard to definitively pinpoint the characteristics of this movement. The post modern design objective could be said to be a desire to take care of the comfort of the body, mind and the soul of its user.

These various movements are just some of the ways that art and design has been characterized over time. Looking at these eight moments gives one insight into how artists and designers alike have reacted to, developed and extended historical and contemporary ideas and trends in their work creations.

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