T3XTURE No.2 Ornament is Splendid!
Edited by Randy Sovich, Lynda Burke,
and Craig Purcell
John Kresten Jespersen
Justin Foo, Samuel Kim, and Paul Fuschetti
You are an architect, living each day unaware of another architectural dimension, a lost dimension, beyond that which is known to you and your contemporaries. A dimension of imaginative opportunity, as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It exists in the middle ground between form-making and meaning, science and superstition, column and beam, cornice and sky–it lies between the pit of modern architects’ fears and the summit of their knowledge. It is a dimension not only of sight and touch, but of mind and meaning; it is Ornament.*
For architects in this century, ornament may well be in the Twilight Zone. Certainly, historic ornament is appreciated, but appreciated as something from an age other than our own. Architects have been for several generations now ill-equipped to comprehend or create it.
T3xture’s mission is to elevate the discourse on texture to the level currently paid to space and tectonics. In this issue of T3xture, we explore the idea of ornament in architecture, apart from texture and pattern, on architecture, pottery, and inadvertant ornament in the landscape. No one is better prepared to guide us on the other side, where architectural ornament is created than Kent Bloomer, an internationally acknowledged expert on modern, architectural ornament. Kent teaches a course on the ornament at the Yale School of Architecture. We began with a conversation with Kent in his studio in New Haven, “Ornament is Splendid!”
Bloomer’s essay “Ornament as Distinct from Decoration” written with the late John K. Jespersen, clarifies the definition of ornament and of decoration, critical to the current conversation about ornament.
Fátima Díez-Platas crafts a clever essay on the ornament of ancient Greek vases around a John Ruskin quotation, exclusively for T3xture, in “Meaningful Ivy”.
The editors sent photographer Joseph Mullan out to tattoo parlours and he returned with the accompanying photo essay, “Parlour Games”.
“Mutiny on the Modern” is Craig Purcell’s skeptical assessment of Modernism’s rigid exclusion of ornament and other styles as merely “the clinging excrescence of the past.”
“Notes on Hapticity [after Sullivan and Wagner]”, Thomas Mical’s treatise offers compelling insights into the texture-ornament, the machine-manual arena in which T3xture is engaging.
Justin Foo, Samuel Kim, and Paul Fuschetti, three Cornell architecture students, contributed “Habitable Ornament,” their novel solution to the extreme discomfort on campus posed by the combination of wind, northern latitude, and Lake Cayuga.
The West knows little of Bogdan Bogdanović, architect, patriot and politician in the former Yugoslavia before and during the government of Marshall Tito. In “Once upon a Time in Yugoslavia” Aleksa Korolija analyzes Bogdanović’s work which endures as the country itself has not.
In another part of the Balkans, Italian architect Giuseppe Resta presents “Ornament of War” and the astonishing scope of the “inadvertent” ornamentation of Albania’s landscape – resulting from the efforts of the paranoid dictator, Enver Halil Hoxha.
Both Korolija’s and Resta’s articles view ornament through a wide-angle, geopolitical lens illuminating the discourse on the principles, purpose, and benefits of more “conventional” ornamentation.
TallerKEN’s project in Central America, “Skeuomorph,” explores the creation of soft modern architectural ornament specific to the tropical environment of Guatemala.
In “Ornament Rules!” the editors resurrect and illustrate concepts from a 1977 essay by Thomas Beeby, describing the art of manipulating a unit to create ornament, and “One Liners” is a critique of twenty-first century architectural patterning applied to Adolf Loos’s Moller House.
With “Texture Photos” Ben Marcin finds beauty and pattern in manmade materials affected by natural processes.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that T3xture has received a 2015 President’s Award from the Baltimore Chapter of the AIA.
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Full Color Bleed on White paper