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Postmodernism: Decoration and appropriation, the return of the narrative and content

New Expressionist Architecture & Design

New Expressionism is a term used to describe an aeclectic and individualistic trend in Postmodern Architecture.

Tsui Design & Research Inc

Some elements of the work of this architectural design company are biomorphic, but some seem to have come from outer space, so I'd classify their work as New Expressionist. There are also strong elements of environmental design in their work too. tdrinc.com/architecture.html

Jean Nouvel (1945-still living)

One of the architects of this ground-breaking 1980's Nemausus 1 public housing development in the French city of Nimes was Jean Nouvel. He also designs products, such as this seat designed for the Lyon Opera in 1994.


Frank Gehry (1929-still living)

Canadian-born Frank Gehry is probably the most famous living architect in the US. He shuns 'isms' such as Postmodernism and follows his own path. So of course the rest of us need to slot that into a little box, so he's become an example of "New Expressionism".

The most conspicuously missing influence in the documentary for me personally was the work of Gaudi. The organic forms, the unique and fantastical style.

Gehry is also a successful furniture maker, and in the 1970's was better known for his furniture than his architecture. His Easy Edges range of cardboard furniture was very popular. It was followed up with his Experimental Edges range.
www.architonic.com - search Gehry

Although Gehry's work is creative and artistic, his ethos is about as far from the poor, suffering artist as you can get. He created a bit of a stir in the Twin Towers debate over refusing to even enter a submission for what would be rebuilt on the site as the paycheck of $40,000 was 'demeaning'. This commercial focus definitely divides "New" Expressionism from ("Old"?) Expressionism. users.cloud9.net/~bradmcc/quotes3.html#Q140

Gehry's best known building is probably the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain (1997). Sheathed in titanium scales, it's startling appearance is as good an example of Postmodern art as any of the works contained within it. guggenheim-bilbao.es/ingles/home.htm

Another fascinating building by Gehry is the Vitra Design Museum at Weil am Rhein:

A number of Gehry's other significant buildings are listed with links at: fact-index.com/f/fr/frank_gehry.html


The Fremantle Maritime Museum (2003/4) by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland

A local building that shows features of this new expressionism is the new Maritime Musuem:

"The architectural imagery of the museum draws on the simple association of a boat stranded on a sandy promontory, an image widely held across different periods, regions and endeavours.

The boat reveals its open deck to the south and exposes the underside of the hull to the north. The stern is partially buried inland while the bow rises towards the west to cantilever over the water." builtenvironment2004.wa.gov.au/ybe/projects/mar_mus/

The Perth Convention Exhibition Centre (2004) by Cox Howlett & Bailey Woodland

Called a "barn" and a "shed" by it's critics, the new Convention Centre set to open on our foreshore this month was designed by the same architects as the Fremantle Maritime Museum. Personally, I really like it, although I agree with the criticism that not much use of the spectacular view of the river seems to have been made from the majority of the building. Check out the fly-though at the link below, or jump on a CAT bus and pop over there for a look around.


Marc Newson (1963-still living)

Aussie wunderkind industrial designer who uses simplified biomorphic and futuristic elements in his readily identifiable style. Newson went to Art School, studying sculpture and jewellery before becoming interested in chair design. Some of his early designs for chairs received international attention, but his career only really became established when he moved overseas - to Japan, Italy, Paris and now, London. He has designed pieces for Alessi, Flos, Nike, Magis, Ford, Tefal, Qantas and many more - including everything from a private jet to a sex toy.



Philippe Starck (1949-still living)

You've got to love a designer who has pasta shapes in his repertoire. Starck worked as the artistic director of Pierre Cardin before starting his own company XO Design in 1984. xo-design.com

"We have to replace beauty, which is a cultural concept, with goodness, which is a humanist concept." philippe-starck.com

"As one of the world’s most celebrated and prestigious designers, Phillippe Starck has spent a lifetime animating environments with a distinct flair for what is fashionable yet also timeless. With the Axor Starck collection by Hansgrohe, Starck exhibits the type of elemental elegance that personifies his work and has earned him such honors as the Oscar du Luminaire and the distinguished IF Design awards. Starck’s simple yet striking designs for Axor Starck emphasize streamlined functionality while exploring the mosaic of everyday life that helps sculpt his perception of the world".

Tom Dixon (1959-still living)

"Tom Dixon is firmly placed as one of Europe's most innovative product designers. His enthusiasm for design encompasses high-end unique, handcrafted originals, through to delight in spearheading collectable, mass-produced objects for popular high street retail.

Born in Tunisia in 1959, Dixon was brought up in the UK from 1963. Spending the early eighties working in nightclub promotion and event organisation was no inhibitor to his natural creative streak. Dixon struck out, launching Creative Salvage in 1985, using reclaimed materials to create unique pieces of furniture and lighting. In 1998 Dixon collaborated with SCP launching the Hoop chaise longue at the Milan Furniture Fair that year.

Dixon is currently Head of Design at Habitat UK and is a visiting tutor at many European design colleges including the Royal College of Art, Vitra Design Museum and The Architecture Association."


Michael Graves

"Works of Art that Work". Graves has a fun, whimsical take on Postmodern Design. His Team Disney Headquarters, built in 1984 is a classic example (if one can use the term 'classic' at all in regards to a building that involves giant dwarf pillars!). bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/gravesdisney/disney.html

An interesting fact I came upon while surfing the net was that Graves suffered a spinal infection in 2003 which drastically reduced his mobility. Due to his illness (which may involve some degree of ongoing disability) the issue of Universal Design may become more of a consideration in his work in the future. sph-planning-consulting.ca/documents/An Architects World Turned Upside Down.pdf

Along with grand fantastical buildings, Graves business also designs everyday household objects for Target.



Jasper Morrison

British designer whose work is usually quite minimalist, although in 1987 he designed the popular and quirky Thinking Man's Chair. In his early days as a designer, he was best known for his knobs. Or "Door Furniture" as no doubt he prefers them to be called.



Craft & Design

With all of these tales of the world's best designers aiming for mass production as their main goal, you may well wonder if traditional craftsmanship is dead? I think not!

Australian Woodcraft Gallery

A wide range of works from Western Australian timber artists. australianwoodcraft.com.au

I have a bit of a soft spot for the Southwest of WA. There are some talented, world-class craftsmen tucked away in those beautiful forests.

Boranup Gallery

Handcrafted furniture made from local fine timbers in Boranup, a scenic are in the Southwest of WA on the edge of the Karri forests between Margaret River and Busselton. boranupgallery.com

Peter Kovacsy Studio

Beautiful work, and a really nice guy. If you're ever touring the Southwest, visit his studio tucked away on the edge of the town of Pemberton. peterkovacsy.com

Fine Woodcraft Gallery, Pemberton

If you're going to Pemberton, also be sure to visit the Fine Woodcraft Gallery. Works by a wide range of artists and craftmen are on display.


Glen Holst

Craftsmanship for the Corporate market - eg High-end Olympic Memorabilia etc. Located in my former hometown of Bridgetown, a beautiful place to visit. glenholst.com.au

The Jam Factory

Jam Factory Contemporary Craft and Design is a unique centre for the design, production, exhibition and sale of work by leading and emerging Australian designer / makers. jamfactory.com.au

Central Design Centre

Like the Jam Factory, Central TAFE's CDC is an "incubator" for recent design graduates. They don't have their own website yet, but I'll try to arrange for the Manager, Cheryl Wood, to come in and have a talk to us about what goes on there.

Question to consider:

Why would a person wish to work as an individual craftperson rather than a designer for a mass market company?

retrokat.com quite nice sites

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