Design and Modernism
Le Corbusier
Andrea Peach
A Great epoch has begun.
There exists a new spirit.
Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier 1927
Dominant ideology throughout
western industrialised world in art,
design and architecture for most of
the twentieth century
19th century: Ornament & Decoration …
If we challenge the past we shall learn
that ‘styles’ no longer exist for us, that
a style belonging to our own period has
come about; and there has been a
Towards a New Architecture
Le Corbusier 1927
Die Wohnung Stuttgart 1927
Adolf Loos 1928
Essay on Ornament and Crime:
Evolution is synonymous with the
removal of ornament from
objects of everyday use
Adolf Loos 1928
Steiner House -
Vienna, Austria
A house has to fulfill two
purposes. First it is a machine
for living in, that is, a machine
to provide us with efficient help
for speed and accuracy in our
work, a diligent and helpful
machine which should satisfy
all our physical needs: comfort.
But it should also be a place
conducive to meditation, and
Le Corbusier
Cook House, Paris, 1926
lastly, a beautiful place,
bringing much needed
tranquility to the mind.
Machine Art exhibition at Museum
of Modern Art in New York 1934
The beauty of machine
art is in part the abstract
beauty of straight lines
and circles made into
actual tangible surfaces
and solids by means of
lathes, rulers and
Industry, overwhelming
us like a flood which rolls
on towards its destined
ends, has furnished us
with new tools adapted to
this new epoch, animated
by the new spirit.
Le Corbusier - Towards a
New Architecture
Russian Constructivist
printed textile c 1920
Le Corbusier 1929
Metal plays the same part in furniture as
cement has done in architecture.
It is a revolution.
The machinery of Society, profoundly out of
gear, oscillates between an amelioration, of
historical importance, and a catastrophe.
Le Corbusier - Towards a New Architecture
If we eliminate from our hearts and minds all dead
concepts in regard to the house, and look at the
question from a critical and objective point of view,
we shall arrive at the
‘House Machine’
Le Corbusier
Villa Savoye
We must create the mass-production spirit.
The spirit of constructing mass-production houses.
The spirit of living in mass-production houses.
The spirit of conceiving mass-production houses.
Le Corbusier
Unité d’Habitation,
It is a question of building which is at the root of
the social unrest of to-day:
architecture or revolution
Le Corbusier
Unité d’Habitation,
Weissenhof Seidlung, Stuttgart 1927
Walter Gropius / Marcel Breuer
Mies van der Rohe
Marcel Breuer 1931
This metal furniture is intended to be nothing
but a necessary apparatus for contemporary life
Modernist Design
Objects should be:
• Simple, honest and direct
• Well adapted to their purpose
• No ornament
Modernist Design
• Standardised
• Machine-made
• Reasonably priced
• Expressive of their structure and
Marcel Breuer 1926
Nesting Tables
Nickel-plated steel and lacquered wood
Mies van der Rohe 1927
Cantilever Chair
Chrome-plated tubular steel, oil cloth
“Here is gay,
sparkling furniture
that brings new
beauty and charm
into your kitchen …
it’s the kind that
seems to stay new
Howell ‘Chromasteel’ USA
Greta von Nessen 1952
‘Anywhere lamp’
Aluminum and enameled metal
2008 …
Ocean - Bianco Table / Gamma Chairs - chromed tubular steel frame
A term used to refer to the principle
that nothing is included in a design
that does not enhance the
object’s purpose
Marianne Brandt 1924
Tea infuser
Germany, Bauhaus
Metal is cold and brutally hard...
It gives no comfort to the eye
John Gloag 1929
“Modern carpet
designs may provide
endless entertainment
for your friends”
Heath Robinson 1936
“De Staalstoelophoon”
The end of modernism…?
The Titanic -
Stanley Tigerman, 1978, USA
Alessandro Mendini 1978
“Redesign of Modern Movement Chairs”
Wassily by Breuer, Italy
The end of modernism ... ?
Le Corbusier
Book s:
Ma rcus, G. Functio nalist Design – An O ngoing History, P restel, 1995
Westo n, C. Modernism, P haid on, Lond o n, 2001
Wilk , C (ed ). Modernism – Designing a New World - 1914-1939, V&A
Publica tio ns, Lo nd on, 2006
Web site s:
Fro m Here to Mo de rnity – Open University Web site d etailing sto ry o f
mode rn movem ent a nd a rchitecture :
The Le Corb usier Fo und ation: nd ationlecorbusier.a nd ationlc_us .htm