Modernism and Nature
During the 1930s many designers and architects, especially the more avant-garde, turned away from mainstream Modernism. Eschewing objectivity, geometry and machine imagery, they shifted their attention to Nature. Here they found organic, curvilinear forms and a more satisfying outlet for their emotional and psychological needs.
Nature provided a new guiding principle (the ‘laws of nature’) in which form was derived from function and natural geometry. It was also a source of materials that could be shaped by human creativity. Designers now saw that brick, stone and above all wood had expressive qualities that were lacking in steel, concrete and glass.
At the same time, the sense of a grand, collective Modernist enterprise began to wane. Designers no longer necessarily set out to change society. Instead, they focused on enhancing the human experience.
This content was originally written in association with the exhibition 'Modernism: Designing a new World 1914–1939', on display at the V&A South Kensington from 6 April – 23 July 2006.