5th assignment

By his optic experiments in the 17th century, Newton showed that the familiar colours of the rainbow could be produced by visible light when it is bent via a prism. With his experiments Newton not only rejected Aristotle’s view that colour comes from an object and is a property of light(von Goethe, 1810). He created the context for ‘colour vision’.

In spite of his pioneering work with colours, I consider Newton’s view of colours as pretty limited. Fortunately, several artists have broadened the view of colours with their experimentations. Simultaneous contrast presented by Chevreul showed out that perceived colour is often different from the physically measured colour.  The experiments of impressionist such as Monet and post-impressionist such as van Gogh and Matisse, expanded the colour vision even further by setting the mood and sensation ahead of realism. (Cage, 1999; Petty, 2011)

After the experimentations of artists, colour vision isn’t only something that can be measured: It’s also something that can be perceived, felt, or even smelt. Like freshly cut grass in a beautiful spring morning.

Cage, J. (1999). Colour and Culture.

von Goethe, J. W. (1810). THEORY OF COLOURS, translated. Retrieved August 12, 2011, from http://www.compilerpress.ca/Competitiveness/Anno/Anno%20Goethe.htm

Petty, Margaret. (2011). Colour: abstraction, perception and modernity. Lecture hold on August 10 at Victoria University of Wellington.


4th assignment

On the basis of his essay, I consider Adolf Loos as the man who felt to be lost and cannot find the road home. He was afraid that in the modern times people would not have enought time and respect for ornaments:

“Are we alone, the people of the nineteenth century, are we no longer capable of doing what people have been able to do before us? … Soon the streets of the cities will glow like white walls! (1)

Loos felt that ornaments form a picture of his time and without ornaments the present fades away. I agree with Loos’ thoughts, that today’s ever-accelerating pace of life doesn’t support making ornaments any longer. Still, I think that the picture of time doesn’t fade away. It finds new ways to appear.

Figure 1, Bowl ordered by Marie Antoinette(2)

Figure 2, Mediterraneo Bowl designed Emma Silvestris (2005) (3)

As an example of this, I present two different designs, the bowls of the different period. The first, the sophisticatedly ornamented one is ordered and used by Marie Antoinette at Versailles in the 18th century (2). The second is Mediterraneo Bowl, designed by Emma Silvestris for Alessi in 2005 (3), that combines sleek industrial design with ornamental forms. The “ornaments” of Mediterraneo bowl was made possible to appear by new manufacturing methods.

I think that people are still longing for beauty, like Adolf Loos did in his days. Ornaments won’t disappear, but they can be seen in more diversified forms like in graffiti, digital media and still in everyday design as well.

(1) Loos, Adolf (1908). Ornament and Crime The Industrial Design Reader. 1910.

(2) Hopkinsart, Andrew (2010, December 20). Marie Antoinette’s porcelain factory. Retrieved 05/08/2011 from http://andrewhopkinsart.blogspot.com/2010/12/marie-antoinettes-porcelain-factory-rue.html

(3) Silvestris, Emma (2005). Mediterraneo Bowl. Retrieved 05/08/2011 from http://www.alessi.com/en/2/3163/baskets-fruit-bowls-centrepieces/esi0121-mediterraneo-fruit-holder

3rd assignment

I think that by arguing ”Construction should be decorated. Decoration should never be purposely constructed” Owen Jones underlined the importance of authenticity and genuinity in design. Every construction should mirror its designed form and materials used, not imitate something that it isn’t.

I think that Jones’s thoughts are quite aligned with the ideas of sustainable design, which often occur as simple forms and decorations. Personally, I share some of Jones’s thoughts and I believe he would agree with the motto of a Finnish design company Iittala “long-lasting design against throwawayisim”. Still, I don’t consider it possible to guide the preferences of people to certain style. Although I see the authenticity as a good trend the freedom of choice should still be amid. I see this as an important prerequisite for future development for design.

Otaniemi Chapel. Photo by Docomomo.fi

As an example, I present the alter of Otaniemi chapel, that has be designed by Heikki and Kaija Siren with respect for the surrounding environment. Minimalized design with straight lines emphasizes the form of the construction. Particularly, the altar with wall-sized windows reflects the seasonal variation of unique nature. I think that the alter fulfills the idea of authenticity design by including only the necessary. As the design reform point of view it presents beautiful construction that is only slightly decorated. That’s why it would probably also meet the views of Pugin and Jones.

2nd assignment

Photo by Eddy Mottaz

EPFL Rolex Learning Center

The learning center of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever visited. Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa designed the unique building with keen interest to encourage students and faculty to interact. The learning center with organic curves and the size of football field forms one continuous open space for study workspaces, library and cafés.

Photo by swissinfo.ch

The continuing curve has been used skillfully to form the body of the enormous building. Architect Ryue Nishizawa highlights that human movements are not linear and curves can be used more organic way to create more diverse interactions
[http://www.archdaily.com]. Based on my own visit and the interview referenced above, I see EPFL learning center as an outcome of a rational long-term design process with organic inspiration. To be able to win kept architectural design competition, Sejima’s and Nishizawa’s design is more like a holistic view for the need of principal than a sensuous impulse. After all, I think that the main idea of the learning center is rather to create conditions for sensuous impulses of this kind  than to be a result of the impulse itself.

1st assignment

Photo by korttelit.fi

Vanha Poli (The Old Polytechnicum)

Vanha Poli was built in 1903 as a student union building Helsinki University of Technology (former Aalto University). The grey jugend castle designed by Walter Thomén and Karl Lindahl was mainly constructed and funded by voluntary work of students at the time there were only about three hundred students at university. These efforts led to this unique place where the endless traditions, stories and songs of technology students have started.