Monday, November 8, 2010
Cycles are apart of our world, they happen in almost every aspect of our lives. Even in the design world. They begin with a revolution, or a drastic change in the mentality of the people in that time. Change is needed to evolve and transform the way we live. However, as cycles are circular we always tend to revisit the past and develop from what once was the dominant style. We don’t necessarily replicate the past, but rather borrow the rules and ideas of the time period. Even modernism borrows on some concepts of the past, even if it is merely the fact that a wall can define a space, the idea has been thought of and is not revolutionary but has just been revisited to further develop the future.
Take for example Colonial America; we are in a new nation with new precedents, new rules, and endless opportunities to be discovered. The new nation needed a style that would represent firmness, boldness, and strength to show the world that America could stay true to its foundation of democracy. This style would have to look back to the classical world, where architecture was perfected and the idea of order and strength could be symbolized in a column. The best example of colonial America would be Monticello, built by Thomas Jefferson. The design of the building represents the pristine idea of the perfect temple on top of a hill. It takes many of its architectural qualities from classical styles like Palladio. The outside is boasts porticos that take advantage of the beautiful scenery and the top is adorned with a familiar centralized dome. The dome may be a symbol that has been used in the past however it holds new meaning to the American people. Before they were free, they were a repressed nation held under strong jurisdiction from England, but through revolutions and revolts they became a free nation and the dome represented equality for all men. This classical reinterpretation was used all over the young nation to set a new standard of power for the world.
This initiative of borrowing ideas to develop new ones did not just stop with the American Revolution, nor did it start there. In the 19th century not only were they developing new materials like glass and steel but they were also sponging up other cultures. To have worldly items and many of them in fact was the modern thing to do, especially if they were things from the eastern world. The Peacock room in London, England is a prime illustration of the eastern culture influencing the west. In these times design became a game to see who could be more cultured.
In every era there is something new to be discovered. Even if what we see seems familiar, because every small change is a stepping-stone into the prospect of design. We are hoarders of the past looking for new ways to use the old, and we are a cycle that never stops repeating, we only alter it slightly and slowly, but change will come.