Alfred Loos and the Josephine Baker House


The House designed for Baker which was never completed.


Alfred Loos                       Josephine Baker

With his work Alfred Loos became, and is this considered, one of the pioneers in the modern movement of architecture. Loos was born in Moravia, now Czech Republic and from an early age found an interest in craft whilst working with his father in his stone masonry shop. Later on he went on to study architecture at university followed by a stint in the army, but perhaps most of his inspiration came after spending three years in the United States. The States were a haven for modernity and the effect of the industrial revolution was all around. There were the incredible work-lines of the Ford factory where people became machine-like themselves in their occupation. This idea of Americanism, provided by Fordism, stood for mass rather than the individual[1], with the design of the Ford so standard and constant manufactured that no one good fail to understand it. Just like Loos’s passion for the ‘ornament-free’ building Ford cars were reduced only to its functional essentials and were certainly not a ‘pleasure car’[2]. Henry Ford and Alfred Loos without doubt shared a common interest in stripping away unnecessary ornament or decoration from their design as well as looking to the exterior rather than the interior of their products. The idea of that design and product should be reduce of decoration and simply be functional reached as far as fashion so it was no coincident that it was around this time Coco Chanel introduced the ‘little black dress’[3]. One has to wonder when looking upon these designs and the theories surrounding them if there is a sense of fetishism from the masculine aspect. As previous mentioned the question what defines something as masculine and feminine is an ancient debate and at this time there certainly seems to be a strengthening within the classification of representing gender within design.

This fascination with the clean lines, the reduction of the decorative and strive for the efficiency must have originated from something more than the industrial revolution. There almost seemed to be a sense of having experience an overload of the decorative and ornamental which seemingly pushed the arts the other way. Alfred Loos’s opinions at the time were not unique amongst scholars; as well as Loos Le Corbusier shared his theories of what modernism in visual culture should look like


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