More eye candy referenced in Alice Twemlow’s essay, The Decriminalization of Ornament
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’. ”
An article in the Stranger, a Seattle weekly, aptly subtitled this work as “The Patterns of Stoner Surburbia”.
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.
Daniël van der Velden and Maureen Mooren’s identity for the Holland Festival in 2005
Twemlow states the poster “… uses the argyle patterns that the typical middle-class festival-goer tends to wear as windows on to apocalyptic images, and interweaves street trash with cathedral stained glass to create a tense critique of contemporary Dutch society.”Making something iconically preppy, like argyle, and subverting it into something dark and apocalyptic lends itself as a purposeful and meaningful use of ornament.
“Prada Vomit” by the design firm, 2×4The leaves & flowers in the pattern are used in a window-like manner (similarly to previous poster), juxtaposing various images
that designer Karen Hsu describes as evoking ‘Italianness, consumption, fashion, manufacturing, beauty, and sex.’ Twemlow’s essay praises the use of ornament coming into its own, no-longer in the shadows of modernism. Ornamentation possesses the potential to be complex, exciting, beautiful, and strange and can be a fascinating alternative to Modernist design.