Design Art: definition, history and tendencies.
Design art. Traditionally, when a design (i.e. the planning of a strategy for the construction of an object or a system) considered aesthetic principles, people sited it among the “decorative arts”. Then, “decorative arts” included graphic arts (from photography to illustration), tissues (from carpets to fashion accessories), leather objects, pottery and ceramics, pieces of glass and crystal, furniture, metallic works… and a range of different beauty things that we can find in the museums of Decorative Arts throughout the world: Kirkland Museum in Colorado; The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum; The Victory and Albert in London; The Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo…
It was during the luxurious Baroque period and above all in the France of Louis XIV and Louis XV when the interest for “decorative arts” started (the porcelain of Sevres for example). At that point, all the European Courts wanted to equal France and a fever of building Royal Factories of mastership spread (remember the Royal Factory of Tapestry in Madrid when Goya worked). However, only few families could buy this luxurious crafts and we have to wait until the 19th century and the emergence of the middle class to see the height of the ‘decorative arts’ but, at that time, the industrial production had started too, also in the United States (tissues in Massachusetts; clocks in Connecticut…) and the problem was to difference between industrial design and Fine Art. At the end, the distinction was made basing on the context within which the work is produced and how it is traded. Modernists (Antonio Gaudi for example) rejected serial products and artistic design peaked (chairs, teapots, lamps, vases…).
But it was during the 20th century when the “design” started to be considered as a great necessary task, because we need to plan the legal, social or environmental specifications, the parameters, costs and processes to get a satisfactory product. These ideas were taught by the German Bauhaus (the famous chair of Marcel Breuer, Le Corbusier armchair or the so imitated Barcelona table from 1925) and the Ulm School of Design (Tomas Maldonado, Max Bill, Margarete HfG Kögler, Klaus Krippendorff…) and they are also widely associated with the Applied Arts initiated by Raymond Loewy. Born in France, he spent most of his professional career in the United States. He designed the Shell and former BP logos, the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and S-1 locomotives, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion, and the Air Force One livery.
Nowadays, if the design is creative, fruit of a personal intuition, and it is looking for the difference, it’s consider and “artistic design” and all the art fairs and art galleries around the world are proud of including “art design” among their exhibitions and collections. See for example the next Annual Sofa Chicago 2012.
Definitions are always a problem and it’s boring to classify something with an only term. Fortunately, the current idea of art and arts is not strict
and this is the happy proof that art is alive.