Despite 20th-century attempts to systematically purge it of pattern, design is again filigreed, infiltrated, and punched-up by the creeping tendrils of ornament.
While pattern can still signal the twee, the effete, the imperialist, and the degenerate—all the old criticisms Loos levies against it—judicious use of pattern reveals its potential to be forceful, evocative, multivalent, and rich. Today, the design community positively effervesces with pattern-making and delectation of same.
The pattern-renaissance I first explored in Print in is by now in full and unapologetic flower. Pattern-swapping and -creation via social media and aggressively inventive wallpapers of the old-fashioned kind, not your computer desktop have progressed apace—more on those in a future post. True to its rhizome-like nature, the proliferation of pattern goes on and on. Moschino Fall shows, from www. But my curiosity about pattern runs deeper and broader than putting a recent trend into perspective.
Ornament and Crime
If you pry off your modernism glasses and peer clearly at the idea of pattern today, what exactly does it say to us? Is there a semiotics of pattern, a tangled system of meanings embedded in visual signs? Do polka dots convey a certain personality, a shimmer of meanings suggested by their shape, their cultural uses, their layered contexts?
I think they do—but almost nobody is trying to parse that visual language. The essay is brief, illuminated by incendiary railing against something Loos felt was visually pernicious, and totally worth a read. Modern man, he writes, should be freed of desiring ornament—a buzzing, debased desire that clouds the already-dull thinking of tribal peoples and lowly craftsmen. Modern takeaway: more pattern, more desire, please!
So much deadly-clean modernism could badly use some enlivening. Is Apple not simultaneously a minimalist design hero for our age, and one of the most humorless companies in existence? The fresh challenge: to apply pattern in a way that startles the eye into roving, that enlivens a surface with curiosity.
How impossible is it to create a pattern that propels a still image, a deadened set of vectors, back into living motion? Not impossible, just rare.
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- The Long(ish) Read: "Ornament and Crime" by Adolf Loos.
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Biography of Adolf Loos, Belle Epoque Architect and Rebel
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Please enter the message. Please verify that you are not a robot. Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: 1 2 3 4 5. Preview this item Preview this item. Most deal with questions of design in a wide range of areas, from architecture and furniture, to clothes and jewelry, pottery, plumbing, and printing; others are polemics on craft education and training, and on design in general. Loos, the great cultural reformer and moralist in the history of European architecture and design was always a "revolutionary against the revolutionaries".
With his assault on Viennese arts and crafts and his conflict with bourgeois morality, he managed to offend the whole country.
Adolf Loos, Belle Epoque Architect and Rebel
His essay "Ornament and Crime", mocked by an age in love with its accessories, has come to be recognized as a seminal work in combating the aesthetic imperialism of the turn of the century. Today Loos is recognized as one of the great masters of modern architecture"--Publisher. Read more Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Reviews User-contributed reviews Add a review and share your thoughts with other readers.
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