Hailey Coral


Twentieth Century

As the twentieth century rolled around, so did a new called “modern style”. The organic drawing became a thing of the past, something that a new generation of designers shied away from, as they embraced a culture with a more structural style. Interior spaces that were organized spatially, by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was a main influencer to beginning this twentieth century design class. His idea of “completeness” by entity in order to create a true purpose and meaning was followed in his design spaces. He was taught from a young age while working at a printing press with a friend, that incorporating blank space into design, along with combining a variety of materials, should not be frowned upon. In the early 1890’s, a group of Scottish artists from the Glasgow School of Art came together to form a design group that embraced this more mechanical notion. They focused on simple bold lines and symmetry in order to create symbols in their imagery. Though many spectators frowned upon their posters, the editor of The Studio was quick to come to their aid by reminding his readers in an article that a poster’s main purpose was to attract, and lead interest. The Four lead inspiration to Jessie Marion King who then used medieval figures to display romantic compositions. Her illustrations are what influenced the movement of fiction and fantasy throughout twentieth century design. In the meantime, there was a lot happening in Austria, such as the movement known as the Vienna Secession. Consisting of four artists and designers, a group was formed to revolt against the traditional art nouveau styles of the past. This group, much like The Four, embraced contour lines creating mystical shapes and they even included nude bodies, which of course, outraged the traditionalists. Ver Sarum, which was a beautiful design magazine in Vienna during this time, flourished with the new clean secession look and became very popular throughout this period. The magazine was different in everything from its sleek type, to its more minimal and structured layout, to the execution in its unique sort of production. Design became an important aspect to not only artists and those who were interested in stylistic techniques, but even to those trying to sell. It was so important that advertisers were required to pay for the designs they wanted for advertisting, which seems redundant today, but at the time was a new importance that was put on visual communication.

After looking at some of the monograms that were designed by the Secession artists in Vienna, I can’t help but think this is where the modern day logo’s stem most of their inspiration from. The fluid and consisted line weights, and shapes that are created within the negative spaces of the designs, not only draw visual interest but also give a mood and concise flow that goes along with the corresponding names. This symbolism is less abstract in some of the posters from this movement, though just as significant. For example, in a poster advertising “Fromme’s Kalender” in 1899, Koloman Moser executes a beautiful profile figure holding a snake ring and hourglass. The hourglass object represents the passing of time, and the ring, more abstractly, represents the circle of life. According to Meggs’s A History of Graphic Design, this poster was used for a good fifteen years, with only some color variations made. This time period may have drastically pushed away the floral intricate designs of the century prior, but it sure made a mark on the design world.