In the 21century, the products developments are changed a lot. But there are many products still designed by two evolutions – Modernism and Postmodernism. They are very important ideology for the design. And also The Postmodernism is evolved from Modernism. However, Modernist and Postmodernist are still using for many products design. Modernism and Postmodernism have their own ideas and principles which help people to identify the different between them. In the following paragraphs, I will describe the different between Modernism and Postmodernism in product design. And show some products of them, also analyze the products briefly.
First of all, I’m going to talk about Modernist design in product design. The time period of Modernism is start at the beginning of 20 century. Modernism is base on practicality, so the products are simple and emphasize on functions. Modernism oppose too much unnecessary decorate (Wikipedia, nd, [Online]). It is emphasize simplify, pure geometrical forms, clear, neat and tiny. It always gives the meaning or purpose directly (Wikipedia, nd, [Online]). Also the material used of modernist design is very emphasizing on quality (Wikipedia, nd, [Online]). However, all of the modernist designs concentrate on pure geometrical forms, simplicity, clarity of form and functional (Wikipedia, nd, [Online]). For example, there is a modernist design chair. It looks very simple and neat, no decorate on it. Everybody knows it is a chair when they look at it. And the purpose of the chair is so clear. It is just designed for people to sit comfortable. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to analyze some Modernist products.
The first modernist product that I want to show is a chair. It is called Tubular steel “MR” chair. It is designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1927 (Dearstyne, 1986, p.99). And his style is clean and simple. He got the idea of using tubular steel of understanding Marcel Breuer design (Dearstyne, 1986, p.99). The seat and back of this chair are suspended from two semicircles tube to be the only support. He made some different sizes of this chair for the dining room used (Dearstyne, 1986, p.99). The seat is created by pleat cushions or cane. The chair is comfort and simple, because the resilience of steel tubes provides a sway action for a person who is sitting on it. Overall of these, we can know that the modernist chairs are all designed similar, which are base on comfort, neat and simple.
The second modernist product is a lamp. It designed by Marianne Brandt and Hein Briedendieck in 1928, also manufactured by Kandem. Marianne Brandt was born in Germany, and studied painting and sculpture at the Grand-ducal College if Fine Arts in Weimar. In 1928, she became the temporary head of the metal workshop (Rowland, 1990, p.33). The looking of the lamp is very simple. It is made by metal. It has a long neck and a contoured foot (Rowland, 1990, p.37). This design base on function, it has the characteristic, adjustable bell-shaped shade, so that it can provide the directional focused light (Rowland, 1990, p.37). And the contoured foot, which is very stable and easy to find the push-button switch (Rowland, 1990, p.37). Therefore, metal is one of the modernistic materials. The lamp is made by metal and it uses the dark colour and simple shape to bring out the elegant feeling and simple style.
The third modernist product is a set of bedroom furniture. It designed by Marcel Breuer in 1926 for Kandinsky’s house (Rowland, 1990, p.69). Breuer is the most creative of the furniture makers in Weimar. He designed light, simple, spacious furniture (Dearstyne, 1986, p.98). Kandinsky asked Breuer to design a set of furniture with the circular elements (Rowland, 1990, p.69). This bedroom set is using the circular elements. The circular legs become the supports of the furniture. Also the circular elements are balanced by some black straight surfaces, which can make them more clearly (Rowland, 1990, p.69). Plywood is main material for this bedroom set (Rowland, 1990, p.69). However, we can see the bedroom set is very simple and functional in the picture. It just provides a very comfort bed like the other modernist product.
The last modernist product that I am going to analyze is a tea table. It designed by Erich Brendel in 1924 (Rowland, 1990, p.69). His style is simple and functional. This tea table is made of walnut veneer with grey linoleum at the bottom. It is a combination of functional and constructivist form (Rowland, 1990, p.69). When it is closed, it becomes a cube. When it is opened, the surfaces become a big cross, which can provide more space for setting out the tea things. Also there some spaces for storage under the surfaces. Therefore, this tea table is space-saving and flexible (Rowland, 1990, p.69). And also proof that modernist product is base on geometric, simplify and functional again.
Now I am going to introduce Postmodernist design in product design. The time period of Modernism is start at the end of 20 century (Klages, nd, [Online]). Postmodernism is opposite to the Modernism, it emphasize on decoration and looking, but it’s not follow the popular trends. The postmodernism designers would follow by their feeling and want they want to present. Different design products can produce what the designers’ thought and their habits. Or we can say the way to start thinking about postmodernism is by thinking about modernism, the movement from the modernism (Klages, nd, [Online]). Usually the meaning of postmodernist design is not really clear, or the meaning is reversing sometimes (Nip 2001, [Online]). However, postmodernist design is contextual, support progressive, complexity, multiple views, and abstract (Nip 2001, [Online]). Further more, the material using of postmodernist design products is not fixed, it is just depends on designers. From overall, we can get a few understanding of postmodernist design. Now I am going to show some postmodernist design products and analyze them.
Firstly, the postmodernist product that I want to analyze is a chair. It is called Lockhead Lounge. It designed by Marc Newton in 1988 (Crafti, 2002, p.84). Newton was born in Sydney, Australia. He started experimenting with furniture design when he was a student (Crafti, 2002, p.84). The chair is in peanut-shaped and it only got three legs to support. The materials of chair are fiberglass and aluminum. The idea of this chair is reversing the comfortable lounge meaning, to present the cool tough feeling. From this point, we can distinguish this is a postmodernist design.
Raft, David Trubridge 2000
(Crafti, 2002, p.116)
The second postmodernist product is a table or chair. It is called Raft. The product is designed by David Trubridge in 2000. He is a furniture designer in New Zealand, but he was studied the naval architect in university (Crafti, 2002, p.116). The rafts are made of elm or ash, and they are steam bent (Crafti, 2002, p.117). Trubridge design the Rafts just like a table for holding bowls or other things, or it can be a seat for using indoor or garden (Trubridge, nd, [Online]). Therefore, the idea of this products is make users easily to see the continue lines, and discover anything in their mind (Crafti, 2002, p.117). So this is a postmodernist design.
Acrilica, Joe Colombo 1962
(Favata, 1988, p.61)
The third postmodernist product is a lamp. It is called Acrilica. The lamp is designed by Joe Colombo in 1962 (Favata, 1988, p.61). He was born in Milan, and he is one of the most influential Italian product designers (Museum, nd, [Online]). The lamp is made up of a C-shaped, Perspex convector and a metal base. The light beams provides through the plastic, and indirect to spread the light. Joe used the new material for the lamp, and tries to bring out the elegant feeling. This is a very good postmodernist product, which won two medals in 1964 (Favata, 1988, p.61).
Alessi teapot, Michael Graves 1985
(DesignMatcher, nd, [Online])
The last of the postmodernist product is Kettle. It is called Alessi teapot. This product designed by Michael Graves in 1985. He is an international architect and Princeton University professor (Graves, nd, [Online]). The idea of creating this teapot is from the birds. The kettle is made by stainless steel, and the shape is like a triangle. On the spout of the kettle, it has a little red-bird which can whistle to tell you the water is boiling (DesignMatcher, nd, [Online]). In this kettle, designer use the little bird shape and the sound of bird to achieve the meaning which he want to present. From this we also can distinguish this is a postmodernist design.
In conclusion, Modernism and Postmodernism both have there own characteristics. Nowadays, there are still many design products base on these two ideologies. From the research, I can know the general idea of Modernism is base on simplify and functional. It is emphasize simplify, pure geometrical forms, clear, neat and tiny. It always gives the meaning or purpose directly (Wikipedia, nd, [Online]). On the other hand, the idea of postmodernism is stress on decoration and looking. And the meaning of postmodernist design is not really clear, or the meaning is reversing sometimes (Nip 2001, [Online]). However, I think they both have their advantages and disadvantages, it is just depends on what people they like.