ORNAMENT AND CRIME

” The modern man who holds the ornament sacred as the useless remains of abundance of epochs long past will immediately recognize the arduous, spoiled, sickness of the modern ornament. No one living on our level of culture these days can create ornament anymore.”- Adolf Loos

Adolf Loos was a functionalist who believed in simplicity. He had traveled to America and admired the work of Louis Sullivan. He felt that lack of ornamentation was a sign of spiritual strength, and his writings include a study about the relation between ornament and crime.

“… the evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects.”
Adolf Loos, “Ornament & Crime”.

The Loos House was simple all right. “Like a woman with no eyebrows,” people said, because the windows lacked decorative details. For awhile, window boxes were installed. But this did not solve the deeper problem.

“The dishes of past centuries, which display all kinds of ornaments to make peacocks, pheasants and lobsters look more tasty, have exactly the opposite effect on me… I am horrified when I go through a cookery exhibition and think that I am meant to eat these stuffed carcasses. I eat roast beef.” – Adolf Loos, “Ornament & Crime”.

“Ornament & Crime” was Adolf Loos most famous article.
Adolf Loos was a precise observer of his time and new cultural forms. He rejected the ornament with an economic argument because he equated it with wasted manpower.
Heinrich Kulka, Loos’s biographer explained the Loosian structural thinking:

“Through Adolf Loos a new and advanced type of spatial thinking came into the world. The free thinking in space, the planning of rooms, that lie on different levels and are not bound to any continuous storey, the combination of interconnecting spaces to a harmonious, inseparable whole and to a spatially economic object. Depending from their puropose and significance the rooms not only have different size, but also different heights”.

Adolf Loos Apartment

Bathroom of the Villa Karma

Do we need ornaments??? Do they make interiors more intresting???
I think that it all depends on what we want to achieve. Robert Adam for example was a great succesfull Scottish architect that was using ornaments. They were present in his interiors and had a purpose. I don’t think that it is a waste of space but it is a nice motif. It gives to the space different visual experience. Adolf Loos created his own vision of the spaces. He did remove the ornament but it dosen’t mean that because of that he gave to the space more function or bettre quality or function. He just brought a new way of looking at the space.
At 33 Portland Place the Adam’s floral motifs are visible and the place is used for many social programs. The ornaments nice blending with the interior and dignity.We just need to understand the need of this.

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~ by malgodesign on January 27, 2010.

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