A Case Against the Modernist Regime in Design Education
journal article

The article argues that the present dominance of the modernist design idiom, and the general aesthetic inferiority of existing non-modernist stylistic alternatives, is a consequence of the fact that design schools have for decades banished non-modernist visual idioms from their curricula. The author discusses original arguments for the single-style / single taste modernist regime of contemporary design schools, and contends that the modernist vision of a single unified style, which prompted the banishment, was rooted in a backward-looking effort to imitate the aesthetic unity of pre-industrial, aristocratic epochs. Against the received view of modernism as an expression of modernity, the author argues that the modernists were, on the contrary, intent on suppressing the key novel feature of the modern time: its pluralism in general and its aesthetic diversity in particular. It is further asserted that the design philosophy behind the modernist regime was largely self-serving, aimed at securing the modernists an educational and aesthetic monopoly. The author pleads for transforming the modernist design education into a modern one, where a pluralism of aesthetic idioms and positions replaces the current one-style-fits-all approach.

Keywords: design history; design pedagogy; modernist design theory; stylistic diversity; modernism, historicism, styles.

Michl, Jan. "A Case Against the Modernist Regime in Design Education." Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 8, issue 2 (2014): 36-46.
Parent Publications
Jan Michl