Mechanical invention, or what we could term “incipient functionalism,” was frequently incorporated into design in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This included things like coiled springs, levers, cranks, casters, and moving parts. Look through Chapters 1 to 4 and select examples of objects that emphasize mechanical function as part of their design, such as a chair that reclines or swivels.
Discuss A.W.N. Pugin’s work as a design reformer, including his admiration for design of the past, principles he formulated about materials, structure and decoration, beauty, and the moral and ethical dimensions of design.
The Victorians were, not surprisingly, inclined to address design reform in moral terms, which they felt capable of determining as fixed standards. What did nineteenth-century British reformers mean by “truth to materials,” “fitness to purpose,” and “harmony of utility and beauty?” Select four works from Chapters 3 and 4, and for each work discuss whether you believe it violates or upholds one or more of these principles.
Design reformers, such as Sir Henry Cole and Richard Redgrave, campaigned for the establishment of design schools where designers could be trained. What would they be taught, and how would their training benefit the wider society?
The Great Exhibition of 1851 was a watershed in nineteenth-century design. What were the aims of the exhibition? Who were its organizers and audience? What was shown at the exhibition and what did it symbolize to organizers and attendees
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