Postmodernism and Scandinavian Modern, Minimalist Design

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Throughout the history of contemporary design there have been many trends usually influenced by the consumers needs and wants, or form and function for example the consumer needs the basics of furniture like a table, chair, bed, etc. which would be form because it is the basics and just the bare necessities, however the consumer may want these things to be conversation pieces, they may want there necessity to look interesting and serve a design purpose not just a functional purpose. Many design trends such as Organic Design, Scandinavian Modern, Minimalist Design, Memphis, and Postmodernism contradict each other because some of them support form over function and others support function over form.

One of the first trends starting off the contemporary design era is organic design which originated in 1930 and ended in 1960 however it got re introduced in 1990 and is still relevant today. Organic Design is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through the design, furnishings, and products which are empathetic to their surroundings. The term organic architecture was created by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1959.

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Scandinavian Modern is a design concept that emerged in the 1950s in the Scandinavian countries Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as Finland, as a design movement characterised by simple, uncomplicated designs, minimalism, stylisation, functionality, and low cost mass production. The idea that functional and attractive everyday items can be and affordable was a revolutionary idea that consumers really loved. Scandinavian Modern is a staple design of post WW2 because it was cost effective and easy to manufacture. Scandinavian Modern is still relevant today and can be seen in stores such as Ikea.

Minimalism from 1967-1978 was a movement that could be described in many different art forms, being that the basis of it was just striping the object down to its most fundimental features. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. Minimalism is often associated with the phrase “less is more” the point of minimalism is to emphasize the buildings frame and eliminate interior distractions and adopting an open floor plan.

The movement was developed in New York and encouraged geometric forms, extreme simplicity and the use of light. Memphis was a short lived design style it was popular from 1981 to 1988 Memphis was a Milan-based collective of furniture and product designers whose work dominated the design scene of the early 1980’s. Memphis was a Milan-based collective of furniture and product designers whose work dominated the design scene of the early 1980’s. Memphis could be considered a branch of Postmodernism, but with a much clearer definition of the movement’s ideals compared to the often obscure ideals of Postmodernists.

The Memphis Group offered bright, colourful, shocking pieces. The word ―tasteful‖ is not normally associated with products generated by the Memphis Group but they were certainly ground breaking at the time. Postmodernism first was established in 1978 and it is still present today, Postmodernism is a movement of ideas arising from, but also critical of, Modernism. The movement began with architecture, as a reaction against the blandness and hostility of the Modernist movement. The style came into its own during the 1980’s and Postmodernism often incorporated extremely symbolic clues in its work. The “I Love New York” logo is an example of this.

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Postmodernism and Scandinavian Modern, Minimalist Design. (2021, Sep 29). Retrieved from

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