WHAT IS MODERN DESIGN?

HOW MODERN DESIGN DEVELOPED
Modern design is the planning and making of objects suited to our way of life, our abilities, our ideals. It began a century ago when creative and perceptive people reacted to the vast problems posed by technological change and mass production. Modern design, in a steady development since then, has taken on a number of outward forms. Mong with examples of current products some of the less familiar forms are pictured here, whenever these older works have present-day significance.
TWELVE PRECEPTS OF MODERN DESIGN
Out of a hundred years of development certain precepts have emerged and endured. They are generally conceded to be:
1. Modern design should fulfill the practical needs of modern life.
2. Modern design should express the spirit of our times.
3. Modern design should benefit by contemporary advances in the fine arts and pure sciences.
4. Modern design should take advantage of new materials and techniques and develop familiar ones.
5. Modern design should develop the forms, textures and colors that spring from the direct fulfillment of requirements in appropriate materials and techniques.
6. Modern design should express the purpose of an object, never making it seem to be what it is not.
7. Modern design should express the qualities and beauties of the materials used, never making the materials seem to be what they are not.
8. Modern design should express the methods used to make an object, not disguising mass production as handicraft or simulating a technique not used.
9. Modern design should blend the expression of utility, materials and process into a visually satisfactory whole.
10. Modern design should be simple, its structure, evident in its appearance, avoiding extraneous enrichment.
11. Modern design should master the machine for the service of man.
12. Modern design should serve as wide a public as possible, considering modest needs and limited costs no less challenging than the requirements of pomp and luxury.

MODERN DESIGN IS A NECESSITY

Modern design has become a broad, powerful movement which includes work from all over the world, wherever men try to find the appropriate constructions and character for the things required in life today.

In this highly industrialized world where democratic societies are engaged in a formidable struggle to survive, life, clearly has less and less resemblance to earlier times. Designs made now in mimicry of past periods or remote ways of life ('authentic Chippendale reproductions,' or 'Chinese modern'), cannot be considered as anything more than embarrassing indications of a lack of faith in our own values.

A well-established home in this country today has many requirements which were never envisaged in the designs of the past or of other civilizations. Our requirements cannot be fitted into their designs without inconvenience to ourselves and disregard for the fine accomplishments of other peoples. Modern life demands modern design. Not because it is cheaper to acquire or less work for housekeepers than 'period styles' (though sometimes these advantages are found), but because modern design is made to suit our own special needs and expresses our own spirit.


MODERN DESIGN MAKES USE OF GOOD IDEAS OUT OF THE PAST

Now, as in the past, mere novelty is no key to good design. We use certain articles constantly whose forms have scarcely changed for two hundred years. Most of them have to do with eating -- flatware, china and glass. Until modern designers

-7-

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What Is Modern Design?
Table of contents

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  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 4
  • Introductory Note 5
  • Design in the United States 32
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