July 31, 2007

A detour down Arcitecture Alley

Yesterday I blogged about the quote "God is in the details". Upon further study, I discovered the author of the quote, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who was a German born architect that worked in the early 1900's and into the early decades of the century. He was a Bauhaus architect, and led the movement near its end.

I know very little about Bauhaus, architecture, or design to be honest. But I know a little bit about how it ties in with one of my favorite art/design movements: Arts & Crafts. The Arts and Crafts movement was important because it was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, and it concerned itself with a celebration of the beauty of handcrafted, utilitarian items. I think that Bauhaus was influenced by it, but instead hoped to embrace and try to utilize the new industries and technologies to make industrial items that were still well designed and beautiful. Bauhaus influenced Art Deco, which to me, was successful in creating beautifully designed industrial objects, as well as handcrafted ones, for some time. But this is the point in history where I lose interest in design, as Craft and the handmade lose their place in the scheme of design, and in that, beauty disappears almost entirely for my eye. I know that will not be popular with those who love modern design, but that is simply the view of the craftsman in me.

Anyway, about Ludwig...I think from the little bit of reading I have done, it seems that he was pretty influenced by Arts & Crafts, and the philosophy behind it, and I discovered many great quotes about design by him. Of course, there it the "God is in the details" quote, but he also penned the phrase "Less is More", which is classic in art and design school speak. Here are a few others that I love, which apply not only to design and architecture, but actually to Craft as a whole:

“Each material has its specific characteristics in which we must understand it if we want to use it. In other words, no design is possible until the materials with which you design are completely understood.”

“This is no less true of steel and concrete [than of wood, brick and stone]. We must remember that everything depends on how we use a material, not on the material itself....New materials are not necessarily superior. Each material is only what we make it.”

“Let us guide our students over the road of discipline from materials, through function, to creative work. Let us lead them into the healthy world of primitive building methods, where there was meaning in every stroke of an axe, expression in every bite of chisel.”

“A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous.”

“It is better to be good than to be original.”

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