International Moderne

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Poster For The International Exhibition of Arts Decoratif - Paris

In 1921 there was an exhibition in Paris entitled the 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decorative'. It was the Ideal Home Show of its day and was where the Modern Movement exploded onto the world. It led directly to the arrival of Moderne housebuilding in UK as part of a larger wave of architectural innovation.

In the interwar period, the UK and the US benefited from an influx of European architects who brought this new ‘moderne’ thinking with them. While architects like Mies Van De Rohe went to the US, in the UK architects like Berthold Lubetkin, who designed the Highpoint flats in Hampstead, and Eric Mendelsson & Chermayeff who together gave us the DeLaWare Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea, turned their minds to home building.

The large scale horizontal motifs of Internationale Moderne buildings the factories that the Moderne movement spawned such as the Hoover Building, and the now lost Firestone Building, with huge, glazed screen walls and horizontal mullions, were the secular cathedrals of their age. However, in housing the implications were profound. The arrival of the International Moderne in the UK co-incided with a government-sponsored drive to mass produce 'Homes For Heroes', for returning soldiers. This led to a desire to industrialise the process of housebuilding. Britain looked to Europe, and the new International Moderne Movement for inspiration and 'Moderne' houses provided a template for the creation of a new generation of suburbia and created the icon that is the inter-war semi-detached house.

Poster For The Exhibition

The Paris exhibition spawned two inter-related art movements – the Moderne architectural movement, and the surface decorative art movement that became known as Art Deco! Unfortunately, these two are often lumped together and Moderne architecture often mistakenly called Art Deco. See Is My House 'Art Deco'? below.

Even though British architects like Connell, Ward & Lucas were at the forefront, there grew a consensus that there was something 'un-British' or at least 'too European' about the International Moderne movement. As critic Simon Jenkins said in a recent Guardian Article <ref> Guardian Review of Books - Simon Jenkins reviewing ‘100 Buildings, 100 Years’ - The Guardian 15th November 2014 </ref> “When Britons choose for themselves where to live and what to spend their money on, they still seek traditional streets, squares, terraces and house, in materials like brick, stone and wood. They have never bought into the modernist agenda”.

See Also In Chimni[edit]

ChimniWiki Is My House 'Art Deco'?

ChimniWiki Homes Used In Poirot Episodes

Other Interesting Web Sites[edit]

Modernist Britain - a beautiful site celebrating the best buildings of the era

FlickrGroup: Modernist Houses Of The 1930s

An Archive of 'Moderne' Houses in London (with photos

A Schedule of 'Art Deco' Houses in London

Wikipedia: Streamline Moderne

Docomomo - Dedicated to The Moderne Movement

Mainstream Modern - A website dedicated to the Moderne Movement

Books We Liked[edit]


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