Ornamentation was essentially considered to be a sign of wealth, of plentiness and resources. Be it a display of personal wealth or a state city or an entire empire, the common language they follow is the use of subtle details, ornamentation and sheer size of monuments built in that period. Now considering the democratic politics adopted by many countries and technological progress -among various other factors- using the same tactics as a medium of exhibiting wealth seems absurd when it can be done in many other efficient ways. Another noteworthy reason contributing to the decreasing desire towards ornamentation is the industrial revolution resulting in mass production and therefore ease of manufacture of ornate products. What was once seen as a luxury was easily available to the common masses compelling the elite class to move on… inevitably towards the opposite end. Thus began the era of minimalism.
Birth of minimalism to advance capitalism is as stated but to speak of artistic point of view, artists of the mid 20th century renounced any excessiveness because of utter boredom of repetition and staleness of said language. This began to gradually reflect in all design formats.
Logos become precedent to the evolution of a design. We shall respectfully take cues from the logo evolution of the famous soda water brand, ‘PEPSI’.
It first started with curvy fonts and uneven kernels; successive designs were formulated with uniform fonts, even later introducing blue color to aid in distinguishing the feature from its competitors.
What any commercial design format does is to establish an identity, pepsi’s logo inadvertently vocalizes the stance of a design format that more importantly caters for a public, for an audience, for stakeholders and the users. Hence sometimes we may even design paradigms of sorts to establish different face values for different audiences.
"Design is intelligence made visible."
-- Alina Wheeler, author
Modern designers continue to interpret space in relation to light and integrate it into form. One such modernist view on ornamentation is seen through the saying of Loos.
“Absence of ornament has brought the other arts to unsuspected heights”
- Adolf Loos, A. (2019). Ornament and Crime.
Adolf Loos, a pioneer of modern architecture, criticized the ornamentation of a building suggesting to maintain the objects' utilitarian value. Instead of the ornamented artistic architecture of Europe, he believed that each element of the structure should aid the function and the spatial flow of space. While decorating the skin of the structure, the wages of craftsmen and the material used increases the expenditure of the project, which Adolf loos believed is unnecessary.
Even though minimalism has dug deeper roots in today's world, it still has drawbacks. It suppresses the designers to innovate something intriguing and remarkable. Nowadays, we are surrounded by minimalistic structures creating a monotonous experience of the space. Whereas ornamentation celebrates the curves and sculptures and reflects the social, cultural, and economical aspects, creating a distinguishing feature of the structure.
Sistine chapel is regardless of the most memorable works of ornamentation, whereby it also includes the stories in the fresco works done by the great artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti.
From the 1960s to today, modernism continued but we miss the charm of intricateness. One such article ends leaving us pondering over the continued interest of modern age people in the charm of the classics and the flamboyant. Such argumentative topics remain unrestricted. Future designers and students of AOA have given their views on the topic.
I personally enjoy minimalism, although I realize that ornamentation when done in minimal amounts to a building not only enhances the experience but also evolves the idea of ornamentation through contemporary modern methods…… Center Pompidou by Renzo Piano in my opinion goes close to this idea of evolved ornamentation, where services have been expressed and celebrated rather than being hidden, adding to the aesthetics, creating a different perception.
..Therefore incorporating ornamentation would need a specialized individual who understands the relevance of it in any given space and that neither the spatial design or ornamentation should overshadow each other but serve in harmony….
-Aditya Shanbag, 4A
Ornamentation reflecting the culture / style of a country creates interest and an identity...a simple glass / concrete box can be misunderstood as any building in any part of the world.
-Shanaya Wadia, 3A
……The concept of ornamentation for identity almost became an architectural tradition, and ornamentation continued even when the structures were distinguishable. And also, ornamentation is a way of storytelling and a way of depicting the socio-cultural perspective of the era the structure belongs to. Hence, I personally feel that ornamentation must be continued in future as well, as a tradition.
-Sanskar Khatri, 2A
I think both are essentially different approaches to the aesthetic of a space or structure so both have their own place in architecture……..functionality and resources play one of the most important roles in architecture so it is very understandable to give it the utmost preference.
-Aarya Desale, ,2A
Today, one could achieve stability in structure by just minimalism, it defines the beauty of simplicity and so in my opinion ornamentation need not be completely necessary, it's just an external factor adding to the real structure.
-Anushka Kamble, 2A
Both are different aspects, both can be worked out very well if properly used.
-Tejaswini More, 2A
Ornamentation is beauty and minimalism is need.
-Gautami Pathrikar, 2A
-Written by Editorial Team
Survey tool-Google Forms, Noting views of students of AOA