I think by some sort of far stretch of the imagination – I could say that Miss Piggy and her fashions could some how be related to ornamentation, but perhaps it’s the spirit of ornament/decoration that can be whimsical and fun.
She’s a puppet, but oozes glamour and often dons legit designer clothes. I love this image of Kermit as Andy Warhol and Miss Piggy as Edie Sedgewick . Is it just parody? Just referential and cute? Post-modern? Faux-stalgia?
I completely am enamored with Jessica Hische‘s elegant and decorative type and lettering designs. I definitely have a type crush on her AND her work. Hische’s design sensibility feels rooted and heavily informed by vintage decorative typefaces and hand lettering, all while maintaining a clean, contemporary feel.
Marian Bantjes is a well-known Canadian graphic designer who is known for her complex, highly patterned and ornately ornamented graphic style. Graphic designer & design educator, Denise Gonzalez Crisp, coined the term: “decorational”, which compliments Bantjes’ graphic style. While decoration and rationality aren’t normally paired with one another, within this concept of the “decorational” – both concepts seem to be symbiotically intertwined, with each part informing the other. Or as Crisp says, “function is completed by ornament.”
Twemlow also notes that “The intricacy necessary to make patterns or to construct ornament suggests that a real attention is being paid to the craft of making and to detail.” This statement perfectly describes the complex design aesthetic of Bantjes.
There is an expressiveness, excessiveness, and freedom that is allowed within the realm of ornament, yielding unique and beautiful outcomes.
A few weeks ago in my history of graphic design class, my teacher was sharing the japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”. Wabi-sabi as a concept used in design, seems to be an opposite aesthetic from modernism. While modernism tended towards clean, symmetrical, fluid and smooth design, wabi-sabi finds beauty in imperfection, irregularity, asymmetry, and roughness.
Which then reminded me of Adolf Loos’ rant against ornament being a waste of labor, resources, time and money. Loos is someone who would prefer to buy objects devoid of detailing and decoration and would also prefer to pay more money for something lacking ornamentation.
Loos says “The evolution of culture is the is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects.”
I stumbled upon fashion designer Jeremy’s Scott’s sneaker collaborations with Adidas while browsing the web. His designs are the opposite of Loos’ argument. Devoted sneakerhead fans currently pay specifcally MORE for an ornament of a stuffed animal attached to their sneakers, rather than less, for an unadorned shoe, plain Adidas shoe. “Form follows function” is often quoted as a mantra for good design, but there is really no “function” that enables a sneaker to improve its performance by “sticking a bear on it”. But the whole point of this particular shoe, is the ornament.Continue reading →
An important theme echoed in Twemlow’s essay is that ornament IS contemporary and relevant to our time. While Adolf Loos’ diatribe on ornament claimed ornament was backwards, degenerate, and useless and that the lack thereof represented progress and truth, Twemlow argues for intention and and meaning contained within ornamentation used today.
She ruminates that, “The decoration we’re seeing today is particular to the time we live in. In many way it is dystopian. There’s the inclusion of urban, dark, and ironic themes, as evident in Geoff McFetridge’s attitude laden takes on patterning in three designs titled ‘Red Dawn’, ‘Stoner Forest’ (see eye no. 47) and ‘All Yesteday’s Parties’. ”
The article’s author, Eric Frederickson keenly observes the juxtapositions within McFetridge’s work: “…general pattern with specific incident, abstraction with representation, decoration with social content.” (italics are mine)
Within these 3 patterned works, expect to see images of sasquatches roaming, long-haired surburban kids biking or gettin’ it on, and beer cans and cigarettes interspersed between the prints, amongst other things. There are social narratives & themes delving underneath the surface of contemporary ornament, as opposed to the strict “beautifying” of object role that ornament played during the Arts & Crafts period.
In Alice Twemlow’s essay, The Decriminalization of Ornament, there are several references to designers, galleries, etc., that I was not familiar with. Here’s a handy all-in-one visual companion with links to go along with that essay.
Alice Twemlow’s essay on The Decriminalization of Ornament opens up with a mention to MATTER‘s adaptable logo at the time (circa 2005), which she describes as “an ornate graphic flourish. At the centre of the heraldic device is the store’s initial letter with a crown hovering above it and its address in a slanted spidery script dangling below. Symmetrically arranged around the central medallion are gothic-looking sprays of feathers and some looping vine tendrils that evoke the fluid calligraphic line found in Art Nouveau wrought ironwork. ”
Contrast the verbosely described former logo to Matter’ current austere, blocky logo which reflects the times of 2012:
Which makes me begin to think at the time the essay was published in 2005, the use of ornament felt whisimical and fresh, but perhaps now it is a bit ubiquitous and might fall out of general favor with the public in a few years? A reaction to what to the previous movement makes sense, but in 2012, it’s hard to be sure what will happen. What seems to be on trend currently is the revival for the mid-century modern aesthetic in furniture, fashion, and tv (i.e. Mad Men ) , but perhaps with a twist? I think Matter’s current logo reflects this.
But at the same time, amidst the majority of the sleek, simply elegant, and sometimes naturalistic wares offered for sale, they still sell quirky and ornately designed wallpaper, rugs, and fixtures.
Matter carries some gorgeous wallpaper designed by Glasgow based Timorous Beasties and Tres Tintas from Barcelona which feature ornate patterns and designs.
From top left to bottom right: Iguana, Birds N Bees, White Moth by Timorous Beasties, Happy, Vergel, Perlas, All City Papers, and Pelos by Tres Tintas.