Historical and Contextual Studies


The current study has focused on the contextual study of modernisation of designs during the 1900-1970s. In this context, Jennifer (2009) has stated that designs refer to not only the outlook of the utilities but it also carries the base of culture of certain civilisations. On the other hand, Marika (2004) has opined that designs provide the account of social and technological status of a period forecasting the probable changes during modernisation. In the present research, the modernisation process has been discussed under various periodic and regional contexts. However, revolution in designs has also been discussed on utilities other than the textiles only.

1.0 The Bauhaus:

Bauhaus is known as the art school in Germany, specialised in the combination of crafts and fine arts. The institution has contributed its efforts through approaching the modern design that has been broadcasted and taught. As found by Samantha and Delin (2011), the Bauhaus has played pivotal role in the history of design revolution during 20th century in the area of culture, architecture, art, crafts, designs and various media. Thus, being an institution of modern designs, Bauhaus has brought the revolution in artistic and architectural thoughts and production of modern designs across the world. Adamson et al. (2011) has mentioned Bauhaus as the headstone of the modern age in designs and crafts that might be visited in Dessau the schools of architecture.

In word of Dorothy (2004), modernism is the change in thoughts and productions to incorporate changes in society and shape of the world in context of the design. In context of this demonstration, Bauhaus can be understood as the label of the whole age of modernism whereas Adamson et al. (2011) has mentioned it as the outcomes of internationally spread models towards movement with power of change in both societal and global value and reshape.

2.0 Modern Vs Moderne: Art Deco and Popular designs in 1930s:

Art deco has been evidenced to be one of the design movements between 1920s and 1930s affecting the traditional art designs on architecture, sculpture, interiors and visual arts on fashion, paintings, graphic arts and films. As opined by Kaiser and McCullough (2010), Art Deco is the combination of geometry, energy, ornamentation, texture, optimism, retrospection and colours. The American art deco basically follows the Paris expositions in its interior, furniture and fashion accessories. On the other side, Christopher (2008) has stated the art deco as the mathematical geometric sculptures that are widely accepted as the eclectic form of elegant and stylish modernism. Oakland paramount is one of the famous Art Deco formed maintaining all the features mentioned to influence mind and health (referred to appendix figure 2).

In context of fashion, female figure has been brought back in textile designing in comparison to boyish shape ruled the previous. In this era, the designers have turned to experiment the different shapes of dresses. Moreover, Williams-Green et al. (2009) has found the accessories that has also been redesigned including floppy sun hat with simple bow, lace veil and fake flowers. It has found by Dorothy (2004) that during 1930s hemlines dropped to immediate above the ankles and the longer dresses like gowns were again in vogue for the evening wear (referred to appendix figure 6). Chrysler building in New York by William Van Alen, Terracotta sunburst design of Eastern Columbia building in Los Angeles is the evidences of Art Deco in the period of 1930s (referred to appendix figure 1).

3.0 Design in conflict: design in World War 2:

The designs of weapons in world war 23 have been employed on land, water and air whereas the key focus of such design is based on scientific and technical platforms. In this context, Judy (2007) has acknowledged that the weapon designs in World War 2 have been employed to create the means of greatest devastations. Therefore, the automation in weapon design became a standard for the design of weapons through a mere transformation from the mechanical base. A full rapid fire weapons has been introduced on a new platform to create a new system of delivery. Moreover, the aircraft carrier, the self-propelled gun, the amphibious landing craft and the dive bomber that has been introduced keeping the destruction area in mind, became the common stuff in civilian discourse.

In other word, the weapons are designed based on the range or distance it could hit. The standard rifle by 1945 was 9lb Garand M1 with maximum range of 5500 feet. The rifle was gas operated with 8 clip .30 caliber cartridge. On the other hand, weapons are also designed with tactics using natural stimuli of the animals such as anti tank dogs. Submarines are designed for water mode of operation where the force of hitting target was quite greater than the land weapons due to resistance of water. In this context, Guy (2006) has stated that weapons are redesigned in World War 2 on the basis of flaws and outcomes of World War 1.

4.0 Pop and Design 1: Rise of teenage consumers:

Teenage consumers in 1930s have faced great depression from the families and educational institutions. The teenage fashion in 1930s is thus influenced by the parental outfits. The female outfits include shirts and skirts up to knee. However, the male fashion involves simple shirts and pants following the parental preferences. Therefore, as mentioned by Catherine (2010), teenage fashions have not been prioritised at that time. Most of the teenagers tend to wear the cloths that have been passed away by the adults. Thus, the dress is simple in looking reaching mid-calf or longer for girls whereas belt was in trend to tie around the waist.

5.0 Pop and Design 2: the new “Popocracy”:

The literary meaning of Popocracy is the democracy without election whereas in the current study, the Popocracy has been mentioned in context of the pop culture that has been introduced during the design revolutionary period. As opined by Kaiser and McCullough (2010), pop culture is the short form of the popular culture that involves the collective preferences in film, sports, music, recreation, mass media, fashion and advertising. The culture was first invented in 1954 by the British art critic, Lawrence Alloway. Pop culture has also been defined by Dorothy (2004) as new art type following imagery format of representations. The pop culture has been coincided by the pop music and youth culture where Elvis and Beatles have been incarnated as the crater of British pop culture. However, Nan (2006) has opposed that pop culture is not only the youth culture based on musical elements, but also the type of display designing, objected for effective promotions (Char.txa.cornell.edu. 2014).

The period of 1930s has been recognised as decade of contradiction when the American way of life and the average number of Americans are woven into both the audio and printed commercials for the consumer products (referred to appendix figure 3).

6.0 Objects of desire: Post war German and Italian design:

The German design after world war is highly influenced by the Bauhaus. As mentioned by Kaiser and McCullough (2010), the post war design revolution illustrates developments, opportunities and trends of the mixture of traditional and modern designs specifically in the fashion world. The designers in 1940s include Bogner, Escada, Frank Leder, Iris Von Arnim, Boss, Firma, Kaviar Gauche and many more. In 1946 onwards a catalog book of fashion design has been published by bNadin Barth whereas the various designs in the book has been contributed by Jil Sander, Bogner, Michalsky and Hugo Boss. As found by Guy (2006), the publisher has declared the goal of publishing the book is to aware the people of traditional fashion in Germany, started in 1900 and reach a glamorous zenith with the designers in post war period including Heinz Oestergaard and Uli Richter.

The annual sales volume of German is €20 billion having export range of 40% labels like the Hugo Boss. However, as stated by Dorothy (2004), designs has developed in furniture also in the form of usage in materials. In this period, Bauhaus has brought with the new thinking where the functionality and simplicity have been combined with the aesthetics resulting more pure form of designs. Bauhaus is the first, promoted the use of tubular steel as material in producing furniture. On the other hand, the Italian fashion design is initially centralised towards the famous designer Gianni Versace who earned the reputation in fashion industry through working is theatre. However, Kay (2002) has found that the designer has achieved elite class with collaboration of American photographer Richard Avedon. Gianni Versace has introduced the metallic garments that have become the trade mark of these brand personnel (referred to appendix figure 4).

7.0 Rising future in East: Design and Culture in Japan:

The culture and designs of Japan is relatively simpler than the western countries. As opined by Kaiser and McCullough (2010) that Japanese believes that use of products depends on how and for want purpose the user needs to use the products. Therefore, culture of japan prefers the simplicity in designs. On the other hand, Catherine (2010) has opined that Japanese culture is the representation of tradition and uniqueness where the other cultures have replicated the designs or a little range of features. For example, the painted ceramic dishes, kimono dresses and the floral patterns. Moreover, Japanese art covers a wider range of sculpture in bronze and wood, ink fabric painting, paper painting and ancient pottery.

The designs of Japanese temples represent the traditional and cultural value of the country. The key objective of the temples has been defined by Judy (2007) as keeping the sacred objects safe from any external hazard. Each building of Japan represents certain ritual.

8.0 Influence of punk on British design:

As opined by Judy (2007), punk is the culture that has greatly influenced by the rock and sub culture. In post war period the culture has been incorporated into the fashion world to introduce new trend towards the youth. In addition, Guy (2006) has defined the punk fashion as characterised by body mutilation and body piercing. The spiked and Mohican hairstyle is the innovation id punk fashion. The tight lather garments are base material used in this fashion segment. The punk and post punk designs are basically displayed in magazines, posters and clothing.

As opined by Dorothy (2004), the punk movement in post war period has been one of the most expressive revolutions in British designing, visualising the expressions of youthful rebellions and against authoritarian mentality. The punk graphics has achieved its peak during 1971-1984. However, Catherine (2010) has stated that the punk movement is specifically recognised for its differentiated clothing patter that has impacted ion British fashion revolution in post war period. On the other hand, in 1978, punk fashion has shrivelled up into the unified pattern due to the equalizer of its violent means of outlooks. However, Guy (2006) has observed that punk fashion has a great impact on music where the music has transformed to the super groups such as Beatles or the rolling stones by 60s period. As punk requires little or no skills, youth has made the music relatively easier through breaking the rules, in order to create a completely new genre, different from the traditional segments (referred to appendix figure 5).

9.0 Virtual design:

Virtual design in the present context refers to the utilisation of digital technology in designing activities whereas different designs are made using advanced application software like CorelDraw, AutoCAD etc. as opined by Judy (2007), the benefits of using these software in designing can be demonstrated as the accuracy and speed that designs can be prepared relatively less time rather designing manually.


Therefore, referring to the above discussions, it could be inferred that the revolution in history of designing has brought a drastic change in the period between two world wars. However, it is also true that the designs in clothing, art, architectures are highly influenced by the wars and change in societal value. On the other hand, designers provide a great contribution in improving fashion trend through developing innovations and unique ideas. However, according to the evidences designs are the symbols of tradition of ancient civilisations and cultures. Moreover, from the post war period till now the pattern of designs is being improved through blend right elements of cultures and traditional values on the basis of its origin.



Adamson, G., Riello, G. and Teasley, S., (2011). Global design history. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Catherine, D. (2010). “Chanel: The Order of Things”. Fashion Theory 14(32), pp. 135-158.

Char.txa.cornell.edu. 2014. Historic Dress: Early Art Deco (1911-1929). [online] Available at: http://char.txa.cornell.edu/art/dress/historic/earlyart/earlyart.htm [Accessed: 16 Apr 2014].

Christopher, B. (2008): ‘Cultures, Identities, Histories: Fashioning a Cultural Approach to Dress’, Fashion Theory, 2(4), pp. 301–313.

Dorothy, J. (2004). “The Eloquent Sari”. Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, pp. 52-63.

Guy, J. (2006) ‘From Visual Culture to Design Culture’, Design Issues, 22(1): pp. 64-76.

Jennifer, C. (2009): “Is Australian Fashion and Dress Distinctively Australian?”, Fashion Theory. Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 13(4), pp. 409-442.

Judy, T. (2007) ‘Do You Dig Up Dinosaur Bones? Anthropology, Business, and Design’, Design Management Journal, 10(4): pp. 69–74.

Kaiser, SB, and McCullough, S.R. (2010). “Entangling the fashion subject through the African Diaspora: From not to (K)not in fashion theory”. Fashion Theory-The Journal Of Dress Body & Culture 14 (3): pp. 361-86.

Kay, A. (2002). “Fetish and Fashion in Canadian Film”. Topia (7): pp. 57-70.

Marika, T. (2004): ‘Body Image Across the Adult Life Span: Stability and Change’, Body Image, 1(1), pp. 29-41.

Nan, E. (2006). “Fashioning political identities: Cultural studies and the historical construction of political subjects”. American Quarterly 50 (4): pp. 745-782.

Samantha, W. and Delin, C. (2011): ‘Young Children’s Figural Selections: Accuracy of Reporting and Body Size Dissatisfaction’, International Journal of Eating Disorders, 29(1), pp. 80-84.

Williams-Green, J., Holmes, G. and Sherman, T. (2009). “Culture as a decision variable for designing computer software”. Journal of Educational Technology, 26(1), pp. 3–18.