Representation can take many forms and media. In this unit, representation can be loosely defined as the portrayal or description of someone or something; a way to express identity. The sharing of design and knowledge can be greatly influenced by images, text, drawings, and other digital devices.
World’s Fairs are a huge influence of representation on a global level. Every few years a nation will host people from all over to the world to showcase the latest technology, design, and innovation. It is a way for countries to represent themselves and share with the world their newest advancements. It is an opportunity to come together and celebrate culture and design.
Likewise, various century old paintings observed during this unit are vital representations of the values, culture, and technological advancements during the time. It is a way to express identity and thoughts of the ever-evolving state of society and the built environment. It may be the personal thoughts of the artist or it may be the collective thoughts of the community and the artist has the ability to express how those thoughts should represented and expressed.
Representation has a great deal of influence that further continues the conversation of design. Through various medias such as writings, drawings, paintings and digital sources have a large impact on the sharing of design.
The University of Kentucky has recently unveiled an existing mural that is decades old. This controversial piece became the center of attention when some viewers thought the visual content could be seen as offensive, as it depicts certain moments in our country’s history. In response, the university decided to cover the mural for a temporary period of time until now. Mixed emotions began to arise throughout campus. I decided to see it for myself.
As I was walking toward the iconic Memorial Hall, I began to think just how small in scale it now seems compared to all of the new construction on campus. I thought about how time has passed since it was first constructed and much history this building has witnessed. As I entered, the anticipation continued to build. To my surprise, the mural was larger than I was expecting, flowing along one whole wall. As I walked closer to the piece, I was amazed by the detail-work and hand craftsmanship. I viewed the piece as a whole and as separate smaller vignettes, each telling their own story. With no definitive timeline, the vignettes range from stories about settling in the frontier to a snap shot of people’s activities and towards the top, stories of developed dwellings and important buildings in town.
Controversially some of the vignettes depict some not so noteworthy times during our country’s past. Slavery was a very ungracious and very unfortunate practice that took place in our history, but it is our history, and we must not turn a blind eye. As I was viewing the mural I felt a sense of mixed emotion. I knew I was supposed to feel “offended” or uncomfortable because that was what society deemed appropriate. However, I did not. This mural was painted as one’s interpretation of the great city of Lexington. The artist had no intention of creating controversy, they were just painting scenes of ordinary life as they perceived. As we move forward, it is easier to look and a decipher right from wrong. As we are able to collectively agree event such as slavery was wrong, we have a duty today and in the future to not hide, but to shed light on our history. We should use history for positive change and create new learning experiences. In the future, I will continue to be knowledgable of how others will view myself and my work but also be brave to portray my interpretations.
In the exploration of World’s Fairs we are able to observe how those exhibitions advanced the architecture and design of the time. World’s Fairs were meant to be a spectacle, a sight to be seen, grand, and innovative. Most notably were the new technologies, inventions, and products that were unveiled to the public. Knowing these exhibitions grabbed the attention of people around the world, it was a competition to see who could present the latest and greatest.
As we look back to specific spectacles, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was very influential in the ability to advance architecture and design. Proceeding the Industrial Revolution, this World’s Fair, located in London, England was a gathering place to showcase the newest manufactured goods and products. This included new materials, modes and transportation, and construction methods. The Crystal Palace was constructed of iron and glass. To many, this structure was previously thought impossible. As visitors experienced this space, there were taken aback by the large scale and ability to work with new materials. It showed the innovative architecture of the time and how design could be in the future.
Similarly, the New York World’s Fair of 1939 was able to push forward the advancements in architecture and design. This fair was far more expansive than previous fairs and showcased the future, the model of tomorrow. It was very futuristic in design with incorporation of art deco accents. The buildings were positioned centrally with pathways radiating from the center. Unlike the White City in Chicago, this World’s Fair embraced color with open arms. As new technologies were being unveiled and showcased, and big business highlighted, the structures were streamline and pushing the envelope for design of the future. As visitors were experiencing this spectacle they were able to forget about the struggles of the Great Depression and entering WWII. People were able to forget for a just a moment and enjoy.
World’s Fairs are able to gather people from all over the world. As we observe the exhibitions over time we are able to see how they aid in the advancement of architecture and design. Time will only tell how upcoming World’s Fairs will influence the future of culture, innovation, and design.
Beginning in the 19th century, World’s Fairs became a popular spectacle for people and nations around the world. It was a way to showcase the newest inventions, architecture, and modes of transportation as well as a celebration of people and culture. Every few years the fair would be located in various parts of the world, giving the host nation an opportunity to present the most innovative products and sights for all to see. Surprisingly, everything constructed was only intended to be temporary! One structure that has become one of the most recognizable structures in the world originated from a world’s fair. The Eiffel Tower engineered by Gustave Eiffel was constructed to be the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, France. At first, the structure received copious amount of flack but ironically has become one of the biggest cultural icons in the world. However, the majority of the other buildings and structures built for world’s fairs have long been demolished and can only be viewed as sketches and photographs. World’s Fairs create unique experiences for all. They are designed to be grand, celebratory, and collaborative bringing people and culture together while instilling a sense of pride for nations and regions.
Furnishings have a huge impact on our environment and can factor a positive or negative experience. They influence the topics of comfort, status, and craft. In the picture above, Fabio’s Novembre’s bench creates a unique experience within the lobby of a children’s hospital. This furnishing exemplifies comfort and creates social interactions. It creates a playful sense of comfort and adds a sense of whimsy into an otherwise very stressful environment.
The Italian filmmaker, Luca Guadagnino, resides in a 17th-century Palazzo outside of Milan. Initially I was completely drawn into the image with the rich bold colors and textures. I absolutely love the preservation of historic elements within the space. I think there is a true beauty behind being able to expose the history, highlighting the imperfection rather than trying to cover it up. They abundance of natural light is always a breath of fresh air.
Below is an image of the loggia, located on the 2nd floor of the palazzo, where Guadagnino hosts his notorious dinner parties.
The Boston Public Library in Copley Square was opened in 1895 and was designed by the architect Charles McKim. When it first opened it was proclaimed a “palace for the people.” Most notably is the reading room. Here the renaissance revival style can be experienced. There is an abundance of natural light streaming through giant arched picturesque windows. There is repetition of line through the arches along the ceiling plane that complement the coffered ceiling. Below is an image of a table furnishing that would be appropriate for this time period and location.
This image of a trestle table emulates the renaissance revival style. This long horizontal working surfaces places emphasis on repetition of line. The carved solid wood ends of the table show great detail. As visitors of the Boston Public Library are conducting there work and research in the reading room, this table would be ideal. Roughly 10′ in length, a large scale, it provides a sturdy working surface that also gives a flare of status and importance. The solid is a material of substance, giving some weight and depth to the furnishing. All of these components and elements reflect the style of this time period and create a unique experience for visitors.
From the ancient times to present day, there is a connection between the finishes of our environment and how we experience the space. After observing Gratz Park Inn and 21c here in Lexington, KY, we see two very distinct environments largely contrasting in tradition and modernity.
Gratz Park Inn was tradition and classic in every aspect. The wooden floors, wallcoverings, and traditional furniture pieces created an experience that was welcoming and inviting. It almost had the feeling as if I was walking into someone’s home, very personal and private. The front desk of the lobby is a little hidden at first, with no signage or wayfinding.
On the other hand, 21c located downtown was a breath of fresh air. It had such a unique modern flair as soon as you walked into the building. Viewers are greeting by this enormous light installation hanging above from the ceiling and really sets the mood for the environment. But with all of the modern renovations of 21c the designers were able to capture some of the original finishes and preserve them. 21c exhibits a great fluidity between preserving the historic and modernity. It really is a captivating, inspiring place.