Ornament was an exhibition curated by Melissa Urcan, held in both Chicago and Pittsburgh in 2005, featuring the work of 12 architect firms and designers including:
Hernan Diaz Alonso (Xefirotarch), Ammar Eloueini (Digit-all Studio), Doug Garofalo (Garofalo Architects), Mark Goulthorpe (Decoi), Lisa Iwamoto/Craig Scott (IwamotoScott Architecture), Greg Lynn (Form), Anders Nereim, Paul Preissner (Qua’Vivarch), Ali Rahim (Contemporary architecture Practice), Blair Satterfield/Marc Swackhamer (SKV) and Nader Tehrani/Monica Ponce de Leon (Office Da).
Included below are select exhibition images, and the original exhibit text.
Nearly one hundred years after Adolf Loos connected “Ornament and Crime,” the role of ornament in architecture continues to be questioned. Although Loos argued distinction between ornament integral to the design and decoration as applied expression, the divide between the two was marginalized with the proliferation of Modernism. As form followed function and less became more, Modern architecture developed as a study in reduction. Loos’ exception for ornament through material, fabrication and making was blurry compared to the stark philosophy that all ornament was crime.
At present, new materials and fabrication processes are available to architects and designers who are utilizing form and structure far beyond historic possibility. Methods integrating digital media and technology, such as Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, have taken even the most traditional materials of steel and glass towards new construction previously unimaginable. These architecture forms, while integrating overall design, stand in direct contrast to the austerity of the ‘box.’ The question is posed as to how ornament is currently defined and understood within contemporary architectural practice.
Ornament is an architecture exhibition featuring installations by architects and designers working with innovative fabrication processes and material use that push the boundaries of conventional wisdom. Using large-scale installations and material studies, the process and methods of current architecture are emphasized. This exhibition aims to examine and reveal the contemporary understanding of ornament in present architectural design, allowing for a new perspective on historical precedent.