Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Futurism Starting Today

For those who know me, have heard me say that a new Futurism is soon upon us and there is an optimism in the air after the Obama win last night. If we follow the history of design and signals of economic and political waves that have been flowing over us for the last few years it is clear that a look forward is where our vision is turning.

This is not the Futurism of the early 1900's that whole heartedly embraced mechanical technologies as a way to direct culture away from traditional forms and ideology. The disdain written in vitriolic manifestos diminished the neoclassicists in all areas of culture. Embodied in the design forms was a celebration of modern living. What opened the minds of Italian architects like Antonio Saint'Elia to the possible opportunities material and engineering discoveries offered was a new found freedom by rejecting the past. The manifestation of Futurist thinking came about in what was then becoming a radical artistic movement that spread to areas of design. Within the academe, old architectural training emulated classical masters, where futurists forbade what they saw as a compulsion to decorate (cover with pretty things - F.T. Marinetti). Futurists' exposed a buildings "mechanical simplicity" or emphasized the buildings purpose through form. We now see the influence of Futurism in Modernist painting and sculpture but architecture and design spun off favoring the functional International Style. The 'box' of efficiency and economic modesty seemed to justify the designers intent more clearly for makers than that of contemporary cubist or later modernist art which seemed self indulgent.

Futurism of 2013+ will no doubt reflect the new technology rather than mechanical marvel. In some ways we have not seen much of 'technical' building but for a few exceptions like Gehry, Magma or iGuzzini. Materials and form move beyond the current norms of construction but also embrace a human relationship. Curvilinear walls and softer shapes seem to address the shape of human beings rather than drive us into oversized cubicles. Work is changing from its central role for younger people. Being a brand can not just mean 'profession' it means work, play, family, persona... life - both virtual and real. New Futurism will be techno-everything that will not have the edge of the previous version because all life can not be an ode to only work. Because technology has permeated all aspects of the modern world the new Futurism will seem to be more well rounded by human activity like play, and family. Oddly enough it is these things that have been fading in a technology based existence.

What will also make this new Futurism seem more palatable, but should be no less aggressive in its influence over culture is the importance of sustainability. Technology as we know it is only part of the answer but  guided by an ethical responsibility to the environment the new Futurism will be distinguished from the technological paradigm we live in by incorporating a 'green' perspective. Seeing the issues of sustainability as part of design thinking made possible through technological means will bring about innovation unlike the previous decade. New innovation will come about through the story we construct around a 'healthy planet' but backed by large data to suggest its importance and validity.

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