Every aspiring designer wants to create something that will become iconic and recognized all around the world like the distinctive wedge shape of a Ferrari or the practicality of the Swiss Army knife. But even though their hopes are high, many end up creating some pretty hilarious and terrible designs before becoming the next Giorgetto Giugiaro or Le Corbusier.
A subreddit called r/CrappyDesign collects the funniest examples of poor design that will make you ask “What on Earth were they thinking?”. From unnecessary plastic wrapping and poorly worded ads to designs that are just flat-out dangerous, check out the times people tried designing stuff and failed miserably in the gallery below!
If you ever visited your grandparents’ or your great grandparents’ homes, you probably noticed how differently their rooms are decorated when compared to your own place. But have you though how the same rooms might have looked four, five or even six hundred years ago?
The designers at HomeAdvisor, a digital marketplace for home services, have created a unique project that shows how much the interior design trends changed over the past 600 years. From the wooden panels in Renaissance apartments to the funky and abstract furniture in postmodern style homes, check out the interior design trends throughout the years in the gallery below!
“Art and culture were reborn as the French Renaissance spread across Europe. Architects found a renewed enthusiasm for ornate decoration and fine detail, inspired by a new sense of humanism and freedom. Arabesque and Asian influences revitalized the decorative arts, and careful attention to symmetry and geometry brought a new sense of harmony to European interiors.
We designed the cabinet in our Renaissance living room image in the shape of a small palazzo (palace) which was common at the time. Its columns and balconies echo the shape of the building, evoking harmony. The Turkish rug is inspired by one seen in a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, a German painter who lived in Renaissance-era London. Rugs like this were first woven in western Turkey in the 14th century and became very popular in Renaissance Europe.”
“Turkish rugs fell out of fashion during the Baroque period, as more opulent and elaborate architecture required fixtures and fittings to match. The Catholic Church was the first to develop this new sense of affluence as an attempt to impress the uneducated masses with their wealth and power. Hence the frames of the Louis XIV-style suite seem to be dripping with gold.
Beneath the gilded finish, the frame of the furniture was often made from tropical wood. Other exotic materials such as ivory were popular, and surfaces such as floors and table-tops were usually marble. Our color scheme here is dramatic and sensual. The play of light around a baroque living room would have been exaggerated to create a sense of movement and enormity.”
“Towards the end of the Baroque period, a subset of the style briefly stole the limelight. Rococo style (from the French word rocaille, meaning shell ornamentation) was famous for just three decades during the reign of Louis XV. It is lighter, more whimsical, and freer than Baroque. For some, it better suited the intimacy of the family home than the grand church style that came before it.
The shell and floral motifs in our Rococo living room are typical of the style’s more playful influence on home décor. The cabriole legs and scroll feet of the furniture delicately balance high-spirits and elegance. Social gatherings in the home were becoming more common in the early 18th century. The Rococo style allowed homeowners to demonstrate their wealth and taste without appearing showy or stuffy.”
“The late Georgian era ushered in a new age of architecture that responded to the Baroque and Rococo periods. The rediscovery of Pompeii contributed to new understandings of Roman and Greek architecture. This inspired a movement towards more ‘tasteful,’ refined, and timeless design principles, free from the pomp and novelty of the Baroque trend.
Notice the straight lines and logical, almost mathematical layout of our Neoclassical living room. These design principles were spread throughout Europe by artists studying at the French Academy in Rome. Note the column-like shape of the fireplace, lamps, and paneling. Colors were mild and undramatic. A plain palate emphasized the stoic, superior sense of form that the Neoclassical embodied.”
“The Arts and Crafts movement began in England as a reaction against the mechanization of creativity and the economic injustices of the industrial age. It was not so much a style as an approach, putting the responsibility for design and craft back in the hands of skilled workers. However, Arts and Crafts interiors shared an aesthetic of simplicity, quality of material, and a connection to nature.
The ideas and look of the Arts and Crafts movement spread to American living rooms via the influence of touring architect-designers, journals, and society lectures. Gustav Stickley was America’s foremost Arts and Crafts designer. You can see his influence in the chunky, function-led woodwork of the furniture in the image, which makes a feature of exposed joinery. This emphasis on wood, brass, and the artisan’s touch gives Arts and Crafts interiors a dark, earthy, and textured palette.”
“Art Nouveau was a ‘new art’ for a new century. Interior designers paired handcraft with new industrial techniques, which often made for an expensive process. Furniture and fittings were extravagant and modern, exhibiting the influence of Japanese art, which European artists were seeing for the first time near the end of the 19th century.
The vases and lamps in our Art Nouveau living room are inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the celebrated artist and first Design Director at Tiffany’s. His glass-blown forms were a tribute to the natural world, and their lush, iridescent and swirling colors are typical of Art Nouveau.”
“If Bauhaus and Modernism were the utilization of 20th-century advances, Art Deco was a glamorous celebration. Interior designers were inspired by the geometry and motion of the machine age, materials, and symbols of ancient cultures, and rebirth in nature. And they weren’t afraid to use them all together.
Designers created a feeling of opulence by using a wide range of materials, including lacquered wood, stained glass, stainless steel, aluminum, jewels, and leather. Bold colors and striking contrasts conjured power and confidence.
Strong, straight lines echo through the fireplace and mirror trim to the skyscrapers in the woodcuts on the wall. Note also how these lines boldly counterpoint the shell-shaped sofa, flowing chairs, and spiky ornaments and houseplant.”
“Like the Arts and Crafts movement, Modernism is less of a style than a philosophy. “A house is a machine for living in,” said Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier, the pioneer of Modernism. The Modernist living room utilized the latest materials and technologies. It was designed to be comfortable, functional, and affordable. Beauty was a bonus, although elegant design solutions were highly valued.
These ‘limits’ proved inspiring to the first generation of professional ‘interior designers.’ The table you see above is inspired by a famous design by Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi. It consists only of a plate of glass, two identical wooden supports, and a pivot rod to hold them together. The original Anglepoise lamp was invented by an engineer who was inspired by his work on vehicle suspension – demonstrating the close connection between Modernist interiors and the 20th-century industry.”
“The Bauhaus (rhymes with ‘cow-house’) was a hugely influential German school of art and architecture. It existed for just 14 years until the Nazi government closed it down in 1933. Bauhaus design was a radical subset of Modernism, with greater emphasis on the human spirit and the craftsperson. As with Modernism, form followed function. Bauhaus interiors were true to their materials, meaning that they didn’t hide the underlying structure of a furniture piece to make it pretty.
Our Bauhaus rug is inspired by the work of Anni Albers, a graduate and teacher of the Bauhaus school. Albers experimented with shape and color to produce textiles that were equally art and craft. The lamp is modeled after the MT8 or ‘Bauhaus Lamp.’ Its circular, cylindrical, and spherical parts create geometric unity and can be built with minimal time and materials. This type of opaque lampshade had only previously been seen in industrial settings.”
“The Mid-Century Modern movement emerged as a softer, suburban take on Modernism, integrating natural elements. Interior designers introduced rustic elements and freer use of color inspired by Scandinavian and Brazilian furniture trends. Materials such as rattan, bamboo, and wicker felt both natural and modern when brought into the living room in the form of chairs, mirrors, and trim.
Statement lighting remains a simple way to add pizzazz to a well-used family living room. The lampshade and standing lamp in our picture both borrow formal elements from Modernism and Bauhaus but have the playful look of repurposed outdoor tools. The bright mustard of the armchair and vases exemplify the common Mid-Century Modern technique of pairing muted neutrals with a saturated signature color.”
“Postmodern design can trace its artistic influences from epoch-defining surrealist, Marcel Duchamp, to Pop Art’s crown jester, Andy Warhol, to the ambiguous Bad Taste of Jeff Koons. It all came together in the 1980s when designers threw off the shackles of Modernism and approached interiors with a sense of humor and the brash confidence we associate with the decade.
In a Postmodern living room, every piece is a talking piece – because each one has a double-meaning or visual joke to unpack. The arches in our image question classical ideals of form, both flattening and unflattening a traditionally austere shape with an optical illusion conjured by their irreverent color palette. The rug’s meaning is simpler. It adds a rock n’ roll feel with its vinyl record shape – a Warhol-like ironic celebration of late 20th-century materialism.”
“A cluttered age calls for a pared-back living room. Today’s contemporary style borrows the clean lines of Modernism and the airy, outdoors feel of the Mid-Century Modern home. Interior designers in the late 2010s love to give a nod to Bauhaus by peeling away surfaces to show the materials at work. However, today’s cutting-edge building materials and textiles can sit happily alongside repurposed industrial features from past eras.
The smooth, bare floor and uncluttered walls of our contemporary living room create a typical sense of space and light. Abstract art on the walls prevents the area from feeling empty and draws out the subtle style of the otherwise minimalist surroundings. Observe, too, the use of line to draw your eye around, such as the horizontal central light, which is both extraordinary and very simple – and seems to widen and heighten the room.”
One day this guy just kind of figured “I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?” – and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that’s trending around the web. Something that always peeks his interests is old technology, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness so if you find something that’s too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!
The anatomy of the human body and the laws of mathematics are ever entwined in the fragile harmonies of proportion. Our sense of proportion begins with the structure of the body, an idea that dates back to the writings of Vitruvius himself, the eminent architect of the Roman era in the 1st century BC. His conclusion has long survived the principles of logic and the measure of time, evidenced by Vitruvian Man, the drawing made by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century, a definitive symbol of proportion in which the extended arms and legs of the male figure find their furthest reach at the edges of the closed circumference of a circle and the mathematical perfection of the square. Symmetry. Geometry. Equilibrium. Of course, Vitruvian Man doubles as the Christ figure stretched upon a cross, a religious icon of everlasting art historical consequence. Christ—the anatomy of man in God’s image—and the cross—the structural geometric intersection—align in precise aesthetic and spiritual equipoise.
Proportion determines the logic of design for any object, whether a dress, a lamp, or an automobile. Good proportion results from a marriage of line, length, width, weight, balance, and shape. Add volume. And material. And a reductionist’s precision. When all of these elements come together in a form that seems inevitable, then the object’s proportion is the final measure of its beauty. The long, slender stalk of the calla lily, say, supports the graceful rounded line of the flower, its delicate petals unfolding in an ineffable flourish. Organic. Geometric. Poetic. Here is a beautifully proportioned gift of nature.
This lavish floor-length gown by Christian Dior is an ode to 1940s glamour in Erwin Blumenfeld’s reductionist composition, which might have drawn inspiration from Kandinsky.
Proportion can be gauged in the juxtaposition of one object to another—perhaps a couch is too large in the context of other pieces of furniture in a room; at the same time, without realizing it, we rely on proportion to evaluate everyday objects in a rational world: If a building is too tall for its footprint, how will it endure the laws of gravity? If the seat of a chair is too low to the ground, how comfortable do we expect it to be? If a coat is too large for the woman who wears it, how reliable is her judgment?
Two masters of proportion, reduction, and distillation in the 20th century were the towering architects Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Corbu, as he was known, advanced the Vitruvian idea of the human body as a foundation for architectural design in his universal system of proportion called the Modulor, which relied on the measurements of the human figure to improve the appearance and function of his buildings. Mies, on the other hand, relied on the mathematical elegance of the “golden ratio”—“the width is to the length as the length is to the sum of the width and length”—to create, among other buildings, the Farnsworth House, a masterpiece of proportion and logic.
Horst P. Horst accentuated the more casual geometry of Christian Dior in his photograph of Suzy Parker wearing a pleated skirt which fans out in a sexy riff on the hourglass figure of yore.
The correct proportion of the human body has been susceptible to attitudes and customs over the course of history. In the Baroque era, for example, fleshy, voluptuous women were in fashion and the clothing of the period accommodated a broader profile. The contours of women’s fashions changed considerably, when, in the 19th century, the hourglass figure became all the rage. And that would give way to a much sleeker and more geometric silhouette in the early 20th century. Edward Steichen, the renowned Vogue photographer, posed Marion Morehouse (Mrs. E. E. Cummings), his favorite model, in a lamé dress by Lucien Lelong that epitomized the slender flapper column of the 1920s. Not only are the contours of her body so gracefully draped and breezily suggested, Steichen also captured the impeccable proportion of the dress in her stance, poise, and attitude. The pearls, shoes, chair, and cigarette compose a portrait of high style and consummate chic.
In 1940s couture, the New Look rearranged the silhouette, adding geometry to the figure in counterpoint to the natural curves of the body. The brilliant reductionism in Erwin Blumenfeld’s photograph of a model in a lavish floor-length Dior gown is an ode to proportion: The triangular skirt, the model’s angled elbow, the semicircular fan in echo of her hair evoke a composition of proportional balance that might have drawn inspiration from Kandinsky.
Francesco Scavullo photographed Nan Kempner, New York’s idea of the perfect hostess, showing off her evening armor in a simple black column topped with a metallic Yves Saint Laurent bolero coat.
Horst further accentuated the geometry of Dior in his photograph of Suzy Parker leaning against a studio backdrop, her pleated skirt fanning out in a sexy riff on the hourglass figure of yore.
Just as in fashion the sinewy hourglass figure was streamlined to the taut silhouette of the flapper column, in transportation the majesty of the horse gave way to the mechanized horseless buggy, and, eventually, to the grandeur of fine engineering. The Duesenberg Cord, for example, struck an impeccable proportion with its monumental profile and commanding stance that came to represent the highest ambitions of the industrial age.
Bill Cunningham, the late photographer and arbiter of style, once said that “fashion is the armor with which to survive the realities of everyday life.” Scavullo photographed Nan Kempner, New York’s idea of the perfect hostess, showing off her armor in a simple black column topped with a metallic Yves Saint Laurent bolero coat. Here is a portrait of exemplary proportion struck in the contrast of light and dark, organic and geometric, line, length, width, weight, balance, and shape—a calla lily by any other name.
At an event this morning at Philip Johnson’s Glass House, it was announced that the 2018 Pritzker Prize has been awarded to the Indian architect Balkrishna Doshi. Born in Pune, India, in 1927, he’s rubbed shoulders with and learned from some of the biggest architects of the 20th century, such as Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn. And now, with the awarding of the prize, Doshi will also become a household name, of similar stature to the men he once idolized.
Balkrishna Doshi, who turned 90 years old last summer, is best known for designs in his native India. Many of them, such as his Aranya Low Cost Housing in Indore, were built for social reasons. Designed in 1989, Aranya currently provides residence to some 80,000 people through a system of houses, courtyards, and a labyrinth of pathways. Within this world Doshi created, 6,500 homes range from one-room units to larger, more spacious abodes, accommodating low- and middle-income Indians. Doshi is known for incorporating Indian heritage into his buildings: Another of his designs, the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, was inspired by traditional mazelike Indian cities and temples, their design manifest in the scheme’s interlocking buildings and courtyards.
“Infused with lessons from Western architects before him, he forged his artistic vision with a deep reverence for life, Eastern culture, and forces of nature to create an architecture that was personal,” the Pritzker organization says of this year’s winner. “Alongside a deep respect for Indian history and culture, elements of his youth—memories of shrines, temples, and bustling streets; scents of lacquer and wood from his grandfather’s furniture workshop—all find a way into his architecture.”
Founded in 1979, the Pritzker Prize is the apogee of accomplishment in the world of architecture. Upon winning the award, architects become instant celebrities. Previous winners include Zaha Hadid, Philip Johnson, Oscar Niemeyer, Norman Foster, and Renzo Piano, among many other luminaries. Last year’s winners were RCR Arquitectes, a Spanish trio that built a strong reputation from their embrace of multiculturalism through the prism of design. For some, the 2018 announcement may also have come as a surprise (Doshi did not make AD‘s round up of potential 2018 Pritzker Prize winners). The naming of Doshi as the recipient of the prize—along with the $100,000 that goes with it—leaves influential architects such as David Chipperfield, David Adjaye, and Steven Holl wondering if their monumental moment will come in 2019.
Before winning the 2018 Pritzker Prize, Doshi had been awarded the Padma Shri (the fourth-highest civilian award in India), as well as the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (a recognition by the French government of significant contributions to the arts). Doshi is the 45th Pritzker Prize Laureate, and the first from India.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurobehavioral condition, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in every 68 births have autism in the U.S. Individuals with this condition may experience hypersensitivity of the senses, difficulty understanding what others are thinking and feeling, and cognitive delays.
We have the potential to improve design quality for everyone by understanding how individuals with autism view the world. While autism in part gave us modern architecture, making ASD inclusivity a priority in design is a necessary step that could encourage innovation and potentially propel us into a new era of architecture.
You might wonder how autism could have given us modern architecture, well the answer lies in the use of eye tracking. As stated in a study in Common Edge, they have found that individuals with autism respond to visual stimuli completely different from neuro typical individuals. A neuro typical person focuses on the eyes, mouth, and nose of a face.
Those with ASD ignore the central face and instead focus on outer features. Because a person with autism has brain connections in overdrive (hyperplasticity), they avoid details such as windows or eyes.
This is why architects who have autism like Le Corbusier, who began his career in the 1930s, was attracted to simplicity. Therefore, some people credit Le Corbusier and consequently autism for the simplistic modern architecture movement.
1. Acoustics. Individuals on the autism spectrum are extremely, and at times, painfully sensitive to sounds. Providing better insulated spaces and allowing for manipulation of sound pressure levels would be beneficial. An example of acoustic manipulation would be adding pink sound.
2. Lighting. Light and color affect human’s mood, behavior and cognitive behavior. Just think, if you were to sit in a dark grey room for an hour compared to a light yellow room, would you feel a difference? Most autism friendly designs have small areas of bright color and light unsaturated earth tones.
3. Spatial configuration. Spaces that are orderly and defined are easier for the autistic mind to process. The use of sequential circulation, storage for non-essential items, sub-dividing rooms, and making spaces reconfigurable can help individuals with autism to better focus.
4. Materials. Furniture has the potential to influence the function, privacy and size of a space. For ASD, modular furniture and malleable spaces are preferable. Easily sanitized finishes are also important because some people on the autism spectrum can have a compulsive-like need for cleanliness.
Designing for ASD does not just benefit those who have autism. These design focuses can create timeless, enjoyable and multifunctional spaces for all. If we approach design through an autistic lens, we do not prioritize standardization in lieu of accommodation. Acoustics, lighting, spatial configuration and materials are essential in quality design. By understanding all human experience through research, we can create better spaces and serve all who inhabit.
For the editor of a lifestyle magazine, Elizabeth Gordon of House Beautiful was a little wound up. The target of her wrath? “A self-chosen elite that is trying to tell us what we should like and how we should live.”