— Ornament is Crime —
HOW ORNAMENT AS WE KNEW IT DISAPPEARED IN THE 20TH CENTURY
THE SPRING OF MODERNITY
“A country’s future can be assessed by the extent to which its lavatory walls are smeared.... I have made the following discovery and I pass it on to the world:"
In 1910, the architect and purist radical Adolf Loos gave a lecture, entitled Ornament and Crime. Loos credited himself with having made the discovery that would shape the 20th century:
The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects.”
His words echoed throughout the 20th century as the battle cry of the Modernist Avant-Garde. Mr. Loos would arguably have enjoyed the future of Modernism, had he lived to see it. As a result of this, we now live in an age where the knowledge of crafts and skills passed down by generations are on the brink of extinction, and need to make a comeback if it is
at all to survive!
The craftsmanship of the individual, making with one’s own two hands something truly extraordinary has been lost to us, almost completely.
The ornament that Loos feared, more so than Modernist sobriety, satisfies our human impulse to look for harmony and patterns. It has a warmth to it — it reminds us that there is more to life than just consumed needs.