Architecture the 1920s & 1930s – the birth of Modernism

Index: abc | def | ghi | jkl | mno | pqr | stu | vwx | yz

Bauhaus featured image
Bauhaus featured image

The radical architects of the post-World War One years aimed for simplicity above all else. Buildings were reduced to simple geometric outlines, and prefabricated components were used to make building labour easier where possible. The style became known as modernism since these were buildings for a new era.

Theoretical School

The Bauhaus design school in Germany was at the epicentre of modernism. It was formed in 1919 by German-born architect Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969) to train artists in industrial design, but it became notable for its students’ beliefs. One of the key Bauhaus ideals was that form should follow function or that an object’s or building’s appearance should be determined by its use or purpose.

Simple Flavors

The work of famous modernist architects such as Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and German-born Mies van der Rohe was certainly frill-free. Buildings had flat roofs, prefabricated aluminium window frames (a cheaper alternative to labour-intensive wood), and concrete walls. The form was very harsh, with geometric elements like cubes and rectangles dominating.

Walter Gropius
UNITED STATES – CIRCA 1982: stamp printed by United States of America, shows Gropius House, Lincoln, by Gropius, circa 1982

Machines that allow people to live

Buildings had become as sleek and utilitarian as the machine, which had become a postwar icon of speed and progress. The machine was even a symbol of democracy because mass production meant that items could be created more cheaply, making them more accessible to a wider range of people.

Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier image in black and white
Le Corbusier image in black and white

The machine fascinated one of the most radical architects of the day, the Frenchman Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965), who famously remarked, “A house is a machine for living in.” He made extensive use of reinforced concrete in the construction of his structures. This eliminated the need for interior walls to support the weight of the floors and roofs, allowing for large windows and open-plan interiors. Read More >

More architecture posts

  • Le Creuset – Cast Iron Oval Casserole

    LE CREUSET Signature Ultra Violet Cast Iron Round Casserole,

    A versatile as our classic oval casserole, it is large enough to roast a whole leg of lamb and narrow enough to leave space in the oven for extra trimmings. Whatever you’re serving, this cook’s staple helps you create show-stopping dishes that are bursting with full-on flavour.Read More →

  • 150 Best Cottage & Cabin Ideas

    150 Best Cottage and Cabin Ideas

    Filled with hundreds of colour photographs, this comprehensive handbook in the highly successful 150 Best design series showcases the latest in successful small house design from some of today’s most distinguished international architects and designers.Read More →

  • 5 Interior Design Books recommended for you

    The scope of interior design book is of unlimited appeal post COVID19.  Around the world, we have been confined to our homes.  These spaces have become so important as they encapsulate our work and personal life.  The current selection of books will help you create that sacred space.Read More →

  • Albers: Interaction of Color | Design Masterwork

    Interaction of Color by Josef Albers illustration

    Albers with “Interactions of Color,” made it his life work to translate the knowledge gained from existing theories and the results from his personal research into a practical course on the action and interaction of colour.Read More →

  • Hertha Hillfon Swedish Ceramicist

    Hertha Hillfon a child's head

    Several exhibitions followed this in and outside Sweden, most recently Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde in 2008. She was awarded the Lunning Prize in 1962. In 1971, she became a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.Read More →

  • Jamie Hayon Spanish artist and designer

    Jamie Hayon header

    In subsequent solo exhibits and shows at major galleries, and design and art fairs all over the globe, Jaime further established his vision. His large consumer base has spanned numerous functions and media, including domestic furniture for B.D., following the establishment of Hayon Studio in 2001. Barcelona, Cassina, Fritz Hansen, & Tradition, and Magis; Parachilna, Metalarte and Swarovski lighting fixtures; and sophisticated Bisazza, Lladró and Baccarat objects.Read More →

  • Antonin Kybal (1901 – 1971) Czech Textile Designer & Painter

    Antonin Kybal featured image

    Antonin Kybal (1901 – 1971) was a Czech designer in the Decorative and Applied Arts.Read More →

  • Pierre Patout (1879 – 1965) French Architect and Designer

    Salon of the Hotel du Collectionneur (1925) interior designed by Pierre Patout

    Following the war, he collaborated with his friend Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, a decorator. They worked together on designs for the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which took place in Paris from April to October 1925 and gave the style its name. Read More →

  • Nocturne, model 1186 designed by Walter Dorwin Teague

    Standing over four feet tall, this towering console of satin chrome and mirrored cobalt glass is a commanding example of the styling of items to meet the Machine Age ideal of the 1930s. The Nocturne radio, built by Walter Dorwin Teague, one of the premier industrial designers of the 1930s, is one of the most striking manifestations of the merger of art and technology. Read More →


Gaff, J. (2000).20th century Design:  20s & 30s between the wars. Gareth Stevens Publishing.

You may also be interested in

Walter Gropius is the history of modern architecture

Walter Gropius (1883 – 1969) was an architect born in Germany in the early twentieth century who contributed to the founding of the Bauhaus School. He lived in the United States after 1937 and taught at Harvard University, where he continued to defend the principles of Bauhaus, especially the use of functional materials and clean geometric designs.

Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York houses one of the world’s most important collections of modern art, with six curatorial departments: Architecture and Design, Drawings, Film and Media, Painting and Sculpture, Photography, and Prints and Illustrated Books.

Industrial Design – design for mass production

After 1865, as industrialisation accelerated and consumer products proliferated, producers were forced to concentrate on product appearance. Ordinary people desired comfort, even luxury: patent furniture, opulent home interiors, and eclectic mail-order products. Celluloid and other new products imitated the look of luxury ivory and tortoiseshell.

Index: abc | def | ghi | jkl | mno | pqr | stu | vwx | yz

❤️ Receive our newsletter

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.