Ornament is Crime is a visual celebration of modernist architecture showcasing a spectacular selection of buildings from the most important architectural movement in modern history. Beautifully illustrated throughout, this thought-provoking compendium invites you to discover modernism’s journey from the 1920s to the present day.
Inspired by Adolf Loos, one of the great founders of modernist architecture, Ornament is Crime takes its name from Loos' provocative attack on the highly ornamental designs of the early twentieth century. This phrase has come to embody the modernist style and its pared back aesthetic, making it a fitting title for this compelling collection of groundbreaking architecture.
The book identifies modernist architecture’s most important elements, from its linear shapes to industrial materials, and explores how this trailblazing style continues to thrive today. Offering a fresh reappraisal of modernist architecture, the survey can alternatively be seen in both the iconic structures of the modernist canon and in the portfolios of some of the best contemporary architects of this century, including Arne Jacobsen, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, and Walter Gropius, and contemporary architects such as Snøhetta, David Adjaye, Sou Fujimoto, Tadao Ando, and John Pawson.
The structures featured are all freestanding houses, demonstrating how modernism has imbedded itself into our everyday culture and been embraced by people in every level of design.
The book begins with a detailed introduction to modernism intertwined with Matt Gibberd’s personal story surrounding the establishment of The Modern House, a pioneering estate agency for Britain’s best design-led living spaces. The properties are then arranged by aesthetic similarity to illustrate how they all share a common lineage, yet manage to achieve a variety of modernist beauty.
The inspiring selection of images has been specially produced in black and white to enhance the form and elevational disposition of each building rather than surface detailing or location. Ornament is Crime is also interspersed with classic song lyrics, literary excerpts and insightful quotes from some of the leading figures of modernist architecture, adding depth and context to the featured images. Published by Phaidon on 19 June, and priced at £29.95. You can pre-order online via uk.phaidon.com.
Marcel Breuer: Starkey House, Duluth, Minnesota, USA, 1955. Picture credit: © Ezra Stoller/ Esto