Stepping Away from Clean Modernism in Design

For the longest time, it seems that styling has favored the clean, smooth, shiny looks. The patron saint of such a design ethos could be Apple for all their work simplifying products and generally aligning themselves with the design principles of Dieter Rams.

Everything in the Art – and by extension – the Design world works on a pendulum. The pendulum swings from extreme to extreme. I think the last few years has seen it swing to the minimalist, modernist extreme, now it’s on its way back. What’s on the other side? Something that’s the antithesis of minimalism – ornamentation.

The first place one sees the sprouts of a change is in the work of people unassociated with large corporations or movements. Large companies require huge efforts to point themselves in different directions – even a company like Apple. Just look at the sort of effort needed to change the path of a company like GM to just make even slightly more fuel-efficient vehicles.

I try to keep my fingers on the pulse of things and do my best to squint out changes in trends for the future. My thought is that ornamentation, perhaps on the back of mass customization, is its in. I have a few examples here from Floris Wubben here:

It’s interesting to see Floris use natural elements in his No. 3 Bench that have a built-in sort of ornamentation to offset the clean modernist portions of the bench – and to good effect. Nature is an excellent jumping-off point for a stylistic tour of embellishment beyond small chrome bits. The strengths of such features lies in the patterning and tinting that makes us comfortable through our continued exposure to the organic world.

Taking a step further down the path of ornamentation, leads me to work by Kiki Van Eijk:

These “Floating Frames” point to the opposite of the clean white pill-shapes of conventional offerings right now – hand-made and intricate works that reflect a certain organic craftsmanship that alludes to one-off customization.

I think in the coming future that people (but not all people) will endeavor to search out items like these, mainly to have something that is special and original. It flies in the face of the items that are stamped out in factories and will provide the groundwork to the consumer’s need to feel unique.

Eventually, large producers will begin to adopt the trend, offering things that are nearly ‘one-off’ like to gather in this business – but by then, I am sure the pendulum will be swinging for minimalism once again.

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