As the turn of the century approached, the world was becoming more one place, not a lot of places that could have nothing to do with one another. As this change was coming into being, the world wanted to showcase this possibility of community with one another. This led to a long series of what were known as World’s Fairs. The World’s Fairs were a gathering and a showcase of what each nation had accomplished in the worlds of technology and architecture, mostly.
This was a time of great experimentation in the world of architecture. The architects that were commissioned to do the work for the World’s Fairs knew that whatever they built was going to be temporary for the use of the Fair, and that it would come back down once it was over. Since it was going to come back down, it didn’t need to be a permanent structure. In the realms of commodity, firmness, and delight, it really only needed to fulfill delight, and a little bit of commodity. Firmness was, at this point in the game, obsolete.
Since they could build with no holds barred, it left a desire to see these buildings actually be constructed and useful. As technology caught up, more of these types of buildings were being seen.
As we were really pushing the limits of commodity, firmness, and delight, we also discovered the need for what came to be known as “good design for all.” For design to be good for all, there had to be a lot that lined up. And it did. Technology and materials were up to the challenge, and the architects were also.
Skyscrapers became something that were possible, and as technology progressed, they got taller and taller. This really made good design for all a great possibility – apartment homes were built that had communities within them so that the habitants didn’t even have to go anywhere to get anything that they needed. This became a more and more common concept as it spread into places of business as well.
The scale of everything that was being built continued to grow, and as the scale grew, so did the scope. People, and designers of places that people were, were beginning to go global. This globalization made trade more possible, it made the world more of a place of one, rather than a place of many that could only somewhat interact. As technology became more and more advanced, it allowed for improved communications, and design was a conversation that was had almost as commonly as trade around the world.
All of what has happened in the past century, however, is somewhat muddled. It isn’t exactly clear whether or not it is modernism, postmodernism, or some other form thereof. We have come back to the beginning of design – who does it? Why is it done? What is it useful for? Why is it useful? All of these things are things that are very important to the conversation, but they ultimately only define where we are, a place that we only know too well, as we are here.