The other side of modernism

A critical view is rarely taken of the modernist movement, however there are some criticisms to be taken with modernist architecture. Architecture plays a huge part in the modernist movement; in fact modernism almost would not exist without it. In spite of that there are questions to be asked about wether modernist architecture was only really something that was seen in the media.

There were many futurist architects that wrote manifestos and drew plans but never succeeded in building any of them. Mies Van Der Rohe is an example of this. He was asked to build some modernist architecture but found that in actuality they were not as functional. He took a more realistic and practical approach. The Barcelona pavilion which he built was considered one of the most important pieces of architecture from the 20th century. However it is another example of publicity being the most important factor in modernism as it had no function whatsoever. The pavilion was an exhibition in itself and its only purpose was to be admired up until it was demolished just seven months after being built. It is interesting that there were many 2nd and 3rd hand paraphrasing the structure only having seen it in photographs. These photographs were thought through meticulously and manipulated in order to display the pavilion exactly as they wanted people to depict it. This use of media perhaps gives a false perception of the structure. The images have become far more important than the structure itself. Another clear example of publicity overriding the true architectural design within the modernist period.

Museum of childhood



I took a visit to the museum of childhood in order to gather research for my critical and contextual studies. It contains a collections of objects related to childhood such as toys, gadgets and entertainment.
I have been focused on the modernist movements and was drawn to the dolls houses displayed. There is a great number of them and they are a good reflection of style and it’s development through time.
I discovered that up until the mid 19th century that dolls houses werent actually seen as as childs play things. They were used by adults to display their sense of style and sat in people’s homes as something to be looked at. Therefore they are a very accurate reflection of changing architecture

V&A visit


Influences From beyond Europe takes us on a journey through foreign design objects deriving from the 19th century. In Victorian Britain retailers traded an array of imported good from Asia, and the Islamic world. Between 1840-1900 the British Empire was expanding and as a result of this trade amongst China, India, Japan, the Islamic world and Southern Spain steadily improved. Due to factors such as the industrial revolution photographers could now experience these other cultures truthfully. This was a chance for designers to break free from the traditional British style that had dominated the 18th and 19th century previously. Despite Britain leaping forward in time with technology, countries such as Asia and the Islamic world were ahead with the appearances of their stimulating use of colour and pattern.

The Victoria and Albert museum was originally the South Kensington Museum in which Queen Vitoria and Prince Albert introduced items that remained from the notorious Great Exhibition of the Victorian era. The great Exhibition took place during the growth in sales whilst partially being the reason for it. Britain was the most powerful and important nation in the world.

A lot of these artistic principles taken by the British from abroad were displayed in the Japanese section from the Influences from Abroad exhibition. Although these displays were larger and contained more artifacts the feeling of the room is still as dark and depressing. If anything expectations might be that the display held in a larger room might feel more spacious and bright but it was quite the opposite. The Influences from Japan are held in a larger room the feels, unbelievably, even more confined than the constricted corridor containing a century worth of prominent design from three parts of the world.

Conversely the colour and lighting of the displays were clearly well thought through during the curation of the displays. Nevertheless this does not necessarily work to its benefit. There is the use of a gold wall within the Japanese display, representative of the rich colour and fabric that were used at the time. Correspondingly within the corridor made up of Asian and Islamic works presented and rich red solid red background, a colour that was not traditionally considered British at this time. These indulgent backgrounds multiplied with the darkness of the gallery perhaps detract from the decorative items that are displayed.

The main item that stood out from all the other exhibits was the Japanese inspired sideboard. this famous piece of furniture design with its geometric form and ebonized finish come from the designer, E.W Godwin’s study of Japanese artistic principles. Un-like the other items from Asia and the Islamic world the sideboard is strategically placed on a simple bamboo flooring, in front of a well-lit and modest plain white wall. This encourages that it lives up to its glory as all of these beautiful and exotic items should.