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#05 - Art_ndDesign II - Henry Cole

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Article written by
Rosa Cortázar Meléndez

Writing of the week

Hello again! It is said that the history of (industrial) design begins with the Industrial Revolution, with all that separation of Fine Arts and Crafts, as well as mass production; but we can go into who came first, if the chicken or the egg, if I start talking about decorative design (or art), because for the Greeks, the pots were like for us now a Zara Home vase, they were not considered art.

So, in order not to make a mess, I am going to tell you a little bit about Henry Cole and the First International Exhibition, following the historical line of industrial design.

Well, this gentleman, worried about the bad taste that existed, in the International Exhibition of London in 1851 (the one in the well-known Crystal Palace), created two rooms to show the Good and the Bad Design, this last one was also called the Chamber of Horrors, where they placed objects that fulfilled four principles to be the worst of the worst:

  • Lack of symmetry
  • Neglect of the structural form
  • Confusion of shapes
  • Superficial designs

Basically what he tried to do was to educate society with what he considered Good Design, trying to eliminate the separation between artists and designers to improve production; but I think it went beyond him to think so much about aesthetics and left aside other aspects for good design, because he came to include the Stork Scissors, which are very tacky but in those years they were very useful.

Perhaps, more than Good Design, it should have been called Aesthetic Design, but it is impossible to ignore that it was a first step towards improving the whole situation.

Here is a link that summarizes how Good Design has been defined and I find it very interesting.

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