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The Pattern Which Connects: Ornamentation Over Time

September 12, 2012

Timeline: The Popularity of Ornamentation from the 19th-21st century according to Annette Tietenberg and Adolf Loos

19th Century: highly ornamented or decorated fabrics, wooden objects, and other crafts are very expensive to make and are purchased primarily by the wealthy.

Late 19th to Mid-20th Century: these objects become relatively inexpensive to make and they also become popular with the lower classes.  Critics like Loos felt that this “cheapened” these products, and that the educated class ought to favor streamlined products, without ornamentation: “form follows function.”  This opinion eventually trickles down to the upper classes and more minimalist forms become popular.

1970’s and the “Hippie” Era: in a rebellion against what is seen as the restrictive establishment, the younger generation begins to rebel by favoring excessive decoration, such as psychedelic patterns.  This continues, however, to represent the “uncivilized” class because of the nature of the hippie movement.

1980’s – Present: ornamentation and decoration becomes popular again in all sectors of society.  Designers create products to cater to consumer’s desires rather than sticking to the principle of minimalism. Tietenberg depicts this as a problematic because people are not being as thoughtful about the meaning of decoration.

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