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Book: Design After Modernism

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11 Feb 2015
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In her latest book, Judith Gura, a specialist in the history of interiors and furnishings explains the important movements (Bauhaus, Postmodernism, High Tech, and Green Design), forms, and furnishings from the 1950s to the present.

Design After Modernism captures the range of influences that have spurred new ideas in design and illustrates many of the most characteristic and most innovative objects in this diverse mix.

With the first decade of the twenty-first century behind us, it is time to reassess the concept of 'modern,' a term that dates to the Middle Ages, when it signified current or recent events. Not until the eighteenth century did it become a stylistic term; more recently it has generally referred to the aesthetic that evolved from the Bauhaus and flourished in the mid-twentieth century. Though proclaiming freedom from the limitations of style, it became as formulaic as most of its predecessors, as Modern architecture and furnishings conformed to prescribed specifications: geometric forms, industrially fabricated, unadorned, and studiously ahistorical. 

Curiosity Kitchen, Alexander Pelikan (Netherlands) 2010
Annie, Reestore (United Kingdom) 2001 Repurposed shopping cart

Those guidelines are no longer relevant. As Midcentury Modernism has receded into history, Modernism has been redefined, reenergized, and in the process transformed. Today it embraces a cornucopia of design in an almost limitless range of materials: design studios are laboratories for experimentation; design concepts can be as important as finished objects; and furniture has crossed barriers to become a new art form. Tools and technologies never before possible have provided new approaches to decoration, and may incorporate influences from the past. The design profession has broadened its horizons; interiors and furniture are being created by architects, interior designers, furniture makers, industrial designers, artisans, artists, and even fashion designers.

Nomos Dining Table, Norman Foster (United Kingdom) 1989
Lounge Chair, Fabio Lenci (Italy) 1970

Design After Modernism offers an overview of developments in design over the past four decades-some evolutionary, some expected, and some extraordinary. It identifies the diverse influences that have generated new directions in design and illustrates many of the most characteristic, most noteworthy, and most innovative objects in this rich and variegated mix. All are representative of their time, and many of the earlier designs have already gained iconic status. Of the more recent ones, whether or not they will be admired in decades to come is something that only time will tell.

Hanging Lamp, Model SP1, Verner Panton (Denmark) 1969
Sushi III Chair, Fernando and Humberto Campana (Brazil) 2002

Book: Design After Modernism: Furniture and Interiors 1970-2010
Author : Judith Gura
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

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