Monthly Archives: August 2011

Innovation- Vienna Secession


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century


Chapter 20     Innovation- Vienna Secession:  1897-1920’s



The Vienna Secession, also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, was formed in 1897 by a group of painters, sculptors, and architects. The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.  Unlike other movements, there is not one style that unites the work of all artists who were part of the Vienna Secession.  Along with painters and sculptors, there were several prominent architects who became associated with The Vienna Secession. During this time, architects focused on bringing purer geometric forms into the designs of their buildings.


Concepts:  Secession members call for architecture, interiors, and furnishings that develop from contemporary life.  Additionally, they strive to dissolve divisions between the fine and decorative arts and design through their exhibitions.  Emphasis is put on honest use of materials and excellent craftsmanship.


Design Characteristics:  Architecture, interiors, furnishings, decorative arts, and textiles exhibit minimalism, geometric silhouettes, and strong contrast.  All emphasize geometric forms, shapes, repetition, defines outlines, vertical movement, functionalism, and simplicity.

Motifs include square and checkered patterns, dots, repetitive geometric designs, medallions, circles, carved floral ornament, sunflowers, roses, and leaves.


Architecture: Design goals include rectangular and cube like forms, monumental mass, and sparingly used decoration.

               Of all the buildings that the Secessionists designed and built in Vienna, the Secessionist Building was the most symbolic, the most iconic. Since the young artists who started the Vienna Secession in 1897 wanted to identify themselves as modern and different, their building had to clearly break away from the rigidity of Vienna’s long standing Academic taste. The building was to be their administrative headquarters, but it was also to be a vitally important exhibition space.

Interiors:  Interior design was considered to be equal in importance to architecture.  Designers strive to create total works of art deriving from form, function, simplicity, geometric forms, defined outlines, and smooth surfaces.  Rooms are uncluttered and reveal geometric patterns and details.  White walls are standard often with doors and trim painted black.  Bright reds, green, blue, yellow, and rose are popular colors.

Furnishings and Decorative Arts:  Mainly influenced by English Arts and Crafts, and Mackintosh’s innovative furniture that is individually designed for each space.  Interiors mush achieve harmony with the exterior of the structure.  Truth to material in design and construction was important.  Designs are simple, modest, and use classical proportions.



Innovation- Art Nouveau


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 19- Art Nouveau: 1880’s to 1910’s

Art Nouveau is a complex, eclectic international movement that comprises various styles in Europe and North America.  It’s a conscious attempt to create a new style that rejects historicism and adopts a new visual language.  It’s first major force was in architecture, followed later by decorative arts.  Art Nouveau is dynamic, individualist, but short lived.

Concepts:  It has many roots appearances and participants.  Art Nouveau is complex and hosts various artists, architects, and designers.  They create unique individual and innovative expressions that reflect the geography, government, economies, lifestyles, and patterns of behavior within the respected country.  It is highly eclectic and urban.  At the heart of this style is the imagination and creativity of the artists and designers.


  • line-curved or straight
  • energy
  • organic growth
  • naturalistic forms
  • emphasis on decoration
  • asymmetry
  • abstraction
  • whiplash curve
  • color

Motifs:  Nature inspired flowers such as roses, violets, iris, and water lilies, animals, dragonflies, butterflies, snails, and peacocks

Architecture:  It strives to create a modern style free from historicism and academic traditions.  Emphasizing the individuality of the architect, this new architecture incorporates new materials and industrial process.  It also emphasizes structure and function.

Interiors-  Art Nouveau interiors are primarily curvilinear with abstract floral and naturalistic motifs in France, Belgium and Italy.  However, in Germany and Scotland it is strongly geometric with rectangular and square shapes dominating the compositions.  Typically the designer (usually the architect) creates the exterior, interior, furniture, and decorative arts.  This way everything is uniform, in harmony, and relate to each other as a whole.  Nature provides inspiration for color schemes.

Furniture and Decorative Arts-  Most pieces of furniture display great diversity of form shape and concept.  Some designers reject traditional form and methods of construction while others use them as inspiration for their own creations.  The furnishings are related to the architecture and visible structure of the buildings.  Art Nouveau emphasized carving of wood and unique construction methods.



Reforms- Shingle Style and American Arts and Crafts


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century


Chapter 18- Shingle Style and American Arts and Crafts: 1880’s to 1930’s




Shingle style is unique to architecture in the united states.  Buildings are picturesque, rambling, irregular, and covered with wood shingles.  The American arts and crafts movement follows principles and tenets of the English, but interprets them in a more individualistic way and integrates more diverse influences.  Industrialization, urbanization, and immigration were transforming the US at this time.





Shingle Style-  Roots of this style are English Queen Anne.  The wood shingles, additive or rambling quality, and broad roofs characterize early houses.  Designs strive to create order and unity within complex architecture by using shingles to unify irregular shapes and massing.


American Arts and Crafts- Derives from the concepts of Pugin, Ruskin, Morris, and other English design leaders.  Within these designers, individuals strived to create their own personal American expression.   Therefore, the American movement has more diversity in appearance than English Arts and Crafts.



Characteristics:  Both styles are in favor of form, style, and details of the middle ages.  Common design principles include asymmetry, irregularity, verticality, and simplicity.  Both styles try to catch the essence of the past, but not interpret literally.

Motifs of the period are flowers, trees, foliage, animals, geometric motifs, Gothic details, and oriental images.





Shingle-  This uniquely american style incorporates elements of Queen Anne, as well as picturesque characteristics, irregularity, gambrel roofs, palladian windows, romanesque arches, and free flowing space.


Arts and Crafts-  America produces a wider diversity of expression arising from a strong emphasis upon regionalism and individuality.  Most are honest in structure, have good craftsmanship, and simple in it’s own way.    Examples include the Craftsman House, Prairie House, and Bungalow House.












Interiors:  Both styles integrate architecture, interiors, and furniture together as a whole.  Everything is unified.  Some interiors have queen anne and japanese influences, however most characterize the American Arts and Crafts style.  Meticulous attention to details and handcrafted work compliment the harmonious concepts of the parts blended into a whole.  The room’s character should reflect it’s function and the individuals who use it.  Wall papers have a stylized naturalistic, geometric, or abstract pattern.  Colors popular at the time are red, yellow, green, ochre, buff, brown, off white, and tan.





Furniture and Decorative Arts:



Reforms- English Arts and Crafts


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 17- English Arts and Crafts  1860-1910

  • Movement was based on the principles and theories of Pugin and Ruskin
  • Promotes intelligent space planning, allowances for human needs, design unity, harmony with the natural environment, and honesty in materials
  • Return of the hand craftsmanship


William Morris:  one of the MOST influential people during the arts and crafts movement.  He was influenced by Ruskin.  Calls for unity between fine and decorative arts and advances the idea of an individual craftsman conceiving and executing an object.    After Morris dies, society loses interest in the movement, and it slowly disappears.




Design Characteristics:

  • Architecture, Interiors, and furnishings all relate to each other
  • Relate to environment, place, or region
  • Simple
  • Revealed structure
  • truth in materials
  • excellent craftsmanship




  • sun flowers
  • lilies
  • birds
  • images or letters (manuscript)
  • gothic details
  • oriental images


Architecture:  Most architects believed in freedom of expression and experimented with materials and form.  The visual language of forms from the arts and crafts movement symbolize elements of family, home, refuge, and shelter.  Emphasis on texture, color, and pattern, harmony with nature, and catching light and casting shadows reflects the architect’s delight in materials and the overall process of design.




Interiors:  Arts and crafts architecture, interiors, and furnishings integrate into a unified whole.  Meticulous attention to detail and hand crafted work are key.  The overall interior space emulates ans portrays an intimate scale, free flowing space, asymmetrical organization, horizontal movement, rectangular shapes, and straight lines.  Colors include brown, ochre, buff, and off white.  Accent colors are blue green, olives, grey, rose, and black.  Natural light fills most interior rooms, and candle sticks, wall brackets, and hanging lamps illuminate the space.  Wood is stained lightly or left untouched for a natural appearance.








Furniture and Decorative Arts:






The Reforms


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century



Chapter 15  – The Shakers; 1774-1900


Shakers were a 19th-century utopian religious group founded upon the teachings of Ann Lee.   Shakers today are mostly known for their cultural contributions (especially style of music and furniture).  Characteristics include minimal ornament, simple forms deriving from function or utility, perfected proportions, and excellent craftsmanship.

Concept of the people:

Shakers wanted separation from the rest of the world, their lives focused mainly on work and worship.  They believed in equality between genders, and put the community before individuals.  Their lives revolve around unity, purpose, and shared experiences within their villages.  Their secluded communities became advertisements of the better worked to be had through the shaker lifestyle.

Design Characteristics:

  • Unembellished forms
  • Refined proportions
  • Beauty in materials/Natural materials
  • Functionality
  • Perfection in quality
  • Simplicity

Because the shakers basically felt decoration was forbidden, no motifs were associated with them other than occasional flowers and hearts that appear in paintings.


Shaker style architecture was domestic or utilitarian and favors neatness, efficiency, function, and easy maintenance.  Because they built structures as a community, everyone developed similar carpentry styles.  This results in similar appearances throughout the shaker communities.  Popular buildings were meeting-houses, barns, and utilitarian buildings.

  • Chimneys at the end of the buildings
  • Gable Roofs
  • Rectangular double hung windows
  • Brick or Shingled façade
  • Emphasis on symmetry


  • Uniform
  • Simple
  • Functional
  • Easy maintenance
  • Little or no decoration

Wood and Plaster are common materials.  Characteristics include built in cupboards and drawers, sparsely furnished rooms, millennial wallpaper, carpet, and horse-hair upholstery as well as walnut and mahogany furniture.

Furniture and Decorative Arts:

Like the architecture and interiors, the furniture of the shakers reflects their belief system and supports their lifestyles.  Plain and utilitarian, movable and built-in furniture is uniform in appearance.  The millennial Laws prescribe what furnishings each member should have so that no one has more or less than anyone else.  All pieces of furniture belonged to the community, even if it was custom build for an individual.  Shaker designers didn’t sign their work, but rather applied numbers to the furniture or art to indicate what room a piece belonged to or who it was made for.


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century



Chapter 16  – The Aesthetic Movement; 1860s-1890s


The aesthetic movement attempts to reform design through education of artistic principles.  Not a single style, but an attitude or philosophy, the movement draws upon many styles and cultures for inspiration and largely rejects the idea that art should serve a higher, moral purpose.  It was short lived, however, and lasted only about 3 decades.


Emphasizes beauty and usefulness for all forms of expression.  Adherents believe that each surrounding surface, object, or pattern provides an encounter with art, and therefore, should be carefully chosen and arranged.

“Art for Art’s Sake” is the idea that art and beauty should give pleasure in which one should freely indulge.

Sources of inspiration include Greece, Rome, The Middle Ages, Italian Renaissance, Vernacular Traditions, and the arts of Japan, China, India, and the Near East.

Motifs:  Sunflowers, peacock feathers, lilies, paisleys, flowers, leaves, Japanese forms, insects, butterflies, and birds.


There is no specific architecture style called “aesthetic movement” so most of the design characteristics appear in the interiors.  Queen Anne and Old English were associated with the time.  Some Japanese and vernacular influences are seen in the architecture.  Garden suburbs and urban landscapes are affected by the aesthetic movement.


Colors are brilliant, gaudy hues obtained from newly synthetic dyes.  Popular colors are gold, yellows, reds, blue-greens, olives, terra-cotta, and khaki.  Electricity is becoming available, however most people still used candles and gas lights because it was more reliable and gave off a softer light.  Oriental rugs are popular; wall to wall carpet is considered a waste.

Furniture and Decorative Arts:

Rooms are cluttered with arm chairs, side chairs, foot stools, small tables, large tables, plats stands, music stands, wall cabinets, and folding screens.  Chippendale and Sheraton are favored.  The movement uses antique furniture with honest construction and appropriate decoration.  The movement doesn’t introduce new types of furniture.

Academic Historicism


Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 11

Romanesque Revival, Richardsonian Romanesque

Concept: One of the main influential people of the time was German architect Heinrich Hubsch.  He claims that Romanesque is superior to Gothic, and declares that it’s simpler to construct and more economical than Gothic Revival.  The styles draw influences from spanish and southern french Romanesque, Norman, and Syrian Early Christian Sources, and some German as well.  Although Eclecticism is an inspiration, the designers and architects do more than copy motifs and forms of medieval buildings.  They absorb characteristics and personalize details of Romanesque.

Design Characteristics:  Both styles (as many others) look to the past for inspiration.  Expressions are largely limited to architecture and feature masonry walls, symmetry, columns, rounded arches, and towers.  For Romanesque revival additional characteristics include string-courses to define roof-lines, smooth walls, arched rounded door ways, and deep recessed doors.  For Richardsonian Romanesque buildings are rough faced with stone, have lintels, capitals, ornament, and different colored details.  Common motifs between the two styles are rounded arches, corbel tables, hood moldings, battlements, rose windows, flower capitals, chevrons, terra-cotta panels, and Syrian arches.


Richardsonian Romanesque-

Pillsbury Hall- University of MN; Minneapolis – Buffington and Ellis

James Hill House – St. Paul, Minnesota – Peabody and Stearns

Romanesque Revival:

smithsonian institution- James Renwick, Washington D.C.

westminster chapel – London, England – W.F. Poulton

Interiors:  Often had a medieval appearance created by architectural elements or ornament.  Round arches and squatty columns along with carved ornamentation and hooded fireplaces are common.  Popular colors include terra-cotta reds, greens, blues, golds, and browns.  Metals such as brass, iron, and copper are used in accessories and lighting fixtures.  Stone, marble, tiles, wall paper, wood paneling and embossed leather were common wall treatments.

Furniture and Decorative Arts:  Again, the medieval style corresponds with the architecture, and is reflected in the furniture.  Designs are eclectic in character.  Carving is the main form of decorating.


Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 12

Classical Eclecticism


Four Main Style Variations

1) Beaux-Arts

2) Neo-Renaissance

3) Chateauesque

4) Neoclassical Revival


Classical eclecticism rejected high Victorian picturesque irregularity and seeks to restore order, unity, and restraint to architecture and interiors.  The four main styles emulate past examples and display monumental planning while using contemporary materials.


Design Characteristics:

monumental scale

classical traditions

large ornamented buildings


Beaux Arts:  symmetry, five part facade, rustication, smooth upper stories, advancing and receding planes, columns, dramatic skylines

Neo Renaissance: Large in scale, rectangular block forms, rusticated lower stories, arched openings, quoining, flat and/or low pitched roofs

Chateauesque:  Vertical and picturesque, asymmetry, smooth stone walls, pointed arch openings, pinnacles

Neoclassical Revival:  rusticated basements, flat roofs, symmetry, greek order, columns and pilasters, limited ornament





Boston Public Library, MA – McKim, Mead, and White – Neo Renaissance

Low pitched hipped roof

Arched windows – creates rhythm

Granite Facade

String Course

Rectangular building

Symmetrical emphasis

Interiors:  Mainly follow two paths

1)Aesthetic Movement

2)Classical Eclecticism

Designers became more concerned with order, balance, rhythm, and proportions.  French and Italian Renaissance styles are common influences in interiors.  Colors include white, greens, blues, deep reds, and golds.  Gas lighting is common, but newly introduced electricity rapidly increases during this period.  Marble and terazzo floors are common.  Murals, wood paneling, and painted plaster are common wall treatments.

Main Stair Hall-The Breakers

Music Hall- The Breakers

Gilded Coffered Ceiling

modillioned cornice

large gasolier

corinthian pilasters

rounded arches


marble floor and oriental rugs