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Modern Matters To Me

North Christian ChurchI'm frequently asked about my love of Modernist architecture, especially the über-kitchy Mid-Century Modern stuff like pink bathrooms, Vitrolite tile, boomerang formica, cork flooring and post-and-beam construction.

I'm not sure where I picked up the affinity. Perhaps it was when I was a kid and my parents would take me to Columbus, Indiana to visit family friends. We'd drive by Eero Saarinen's "oil can church" and visit the Commons, usually grabbing lunch at "the Greeks."

Maybe it was my exposure in college to the finest Graphic Design of the Mid 20th Century. My professors were steeped in the works of Swiss Graphic Design, and I learned very early on to respect the Deacons of Design: (including but not limited to) Paul Rand, Massimo Vignelli, Armin Hoffman and Josef Müller-Brockmann.

I was not the least bit surprised to learn that what I now consider "modernist" architecture had roots in the late 19th and early 20th Century in Central and Northern Europe. I am especially fond of the Bauhaus, with its influences on and by such notable Architects as Walter Gropius (the founder of Bauhaus), Le Corbusier, Richard Neutra, Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.


Those clean lines, flat roofs, expanses of glass, the use of utilitarian materials, and the unification of the building with the space it occupies - including a respect for the landscape - inspire me to this day. Many of these Architects also designed furniture, lighting and other fixtures which fit the aesthetic of the buildings they created.

Whether it was my early exposure to the Architecture of the day as a child or my involvement with the Graphic Design of the era during my years at IU, I am to this day enamored with and absolutely love Modernist design.

(Photo of North Christian Church ©2005 Greg Hume, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license. Photo of the Bauhaus School has been released into the public domain by its author, Mewes.)