By Qingya Tu
In his book on the history of twentieth century design, Jonathan M. Woodham describes how the origins of design styles and movements are located within the context of social background, lifestyle and consumption spheres. He identifies key social and political issues that have impacted on design culture within the affluent nations of Europe, the United States, Scandinavia and the Far East. He also considers how design movements reflect the culture and lifestyle of their time.
Woodham’s book, Twentieth-Century Design, was published in 1997 as part of the Oxford History of Art series which provides accessible academic introductions to art history. Woodham, who is Professor of Design History at the University of Brighton, begins by placing the origins of twentieth century design within the context of the industrial revolution and its transformation of people’s lives and the modes of production. He investigates chronologically the development of various design styles and aesthetics from the Arts and Crafts movement through to post-modernism. In his final chapter, on social responsibility, Woodham traces the ways in which designers have responded to consumer concerns.
This publication provides a new perspective on design and industrial culture and identifies a number of key components that demonstrate the extent to which design is connected to time and place. Its abundance of high quality illustrations together with the quality of Woodham’s writing and research make it a valuable resource for art and design students and an excellent general guide to twentieth century design.
Jonathan Woodham, Twentieth-Century Design, Oxford University Press, Oxford,1997, paperback, 288pp., $24.95.