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Functionalism

is an architectural style that can be summarized in one sentence as follows: Form follows function. Functionalist buildings are very austere, but not non-artistic. From the late 1920s to the late 1970s, he was a leading architectural style. The pseudo-artistic trends socialist realism or rural functionalism and architectural stylization in the Third Reich were also based on functionalism. Typical of functionalist architecture are purpose-built buildings of simple shapes. It mainly uses new materials (eg scarlet bricks, iron or concrete).

Architecture, as Adolf Loos (one of the leading representatives of functionalism in the Czech lands) claims, is not an art, which does not mean that it does not meet aesthetic ideals. In his work, Le Corbusier introduced functionalism as a new form that managed to break free from the many pomp and cult of artificial aesthetics that persisted in the early 1920s. Overpayment and unnecessary complexity were elegantly replaced by the geometric purity of shapes. Just as Adolf Loos called the ornament a crime, Le Corbusier says: "The decoration is sensual and primitive in nature, as is the color, and only suitable for the lower classes, peasants and savages."

Functionalism as an artistic style has established itself not only in architecture, but also very significantly in the design of applied art, furniture and home accessories. Le Corbusier's ideas and artistic sensibilities were further developed by the Bauhaus school in Desava, Weimar, whose founder and main representative was Walter Gropius. His contemporaries and followers, such as Marcel Breuer, Hannes Meyer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Ludwig Hilbersmeier and others, gave rise to quality, timeless and today increasingly in demand modern functionalist design.

Czech functionalism
In the Czech lands, the so-called Czech functionalism prevailed and applied, especially in the design of furniture and home accessories. At the time of full social tension, the thesis that the basic duty of an architect is to create exclusively rational and thus cheap equipment that could be accessible to a wide range of the population became the credo of important Czech architects. The Czech avant-garde of progressive architects soon work and, above all, successful implementations to deepen the principles of the new direction. At the same time, it remained a paradox that the principles of functionalism were most consistently applied especially in the solution of individually designed buildings and interiors of solvent users.

Karel Teige formulated the most precise formulations of orthodox functionalism in our country in his speeches and publications. In theoretical considerations, he came to the vision of a standardized apartment, which people would not even arrange themselves. They would receive equipment from the builder and all functions would be excluded from the apartment, which could then be transferred to common facilities. The apartment could thus be exempt not only from a number of functions, but also from an excess of furniture. In the last conjecture of functionalism, the author excluded everything from the apartment except sleeping and reading. He proposed to transfer everything else from the apartment to a common public facility. Meals in shared kitchens, raising children in cr?ches and children's playrooms, personal hygiene in public spas. Finally, the reading could be fully transferred to libraries, so a bed and storage space for personal items and clothing would suffice in the apartment. The architects who grew up and created in the beginning of the interwar period in their works probably not only reflected the atmosphere of the time filled with contradictions, but also sought to implement these theories.

New standards of equipment, the emergence of sector furniture
Already in the early 1920s, the idea arose that a rigorous scientific approach, based on the study of human needs, would facilitate the path to the creation of standard products, to standardization, rationalization and to the creation of economically advantageous products. These were ascetic demands, it was also anti-aestheticism. It was an effort to prevent a return to the old decorativism, which burdened the work of several previous generations. Taking a critical look at these attitudes, we must not forget that for the first time in the European history of furniture art, furniture was designed and manufactured without the use of ornaments. At the turn of the twenties and thirties, in an experimental projection, designs of home furnishings of a completely new character were created. The solution of furniture for residential interiors began to take over the construction work here. Bulky cabinets began to disappear, which were replaced by wall cabinets and wardrobes. Kitchen furniture became part of the construction in these experimental projects, and seating furniture took first place in the care of designers. At that time, the idea of modular - sector furniture also crystallized and matured. Composite "sector" furniture was created on the principle of austere geometric rasters. De Stijl, Modrian's neoplasticism, Bauhaus, functionalism - all these directions, which contributed to the development of architecture of the first half of the twentieth century, raised the right angle to the profession of faith.

Purposefulness without coziness, orthodox functionalism
Above all, it has been forgotten that the correspondence between construction and beauty is only accidental and thus uncertain. They overlooked the fact that if this condition sometimes occurs, it does not happen automatically. Purposefully calculated furniture, scientifically determined parameters of individual furniture types were to find their full application in the future. The unadorned smooth surfaces, the removed ornament, and the excluded decor were the credo with which functionalism manifested itself from the very beginning. In fundamental opposition to unnecessary ornaments, he left everything that was due to decorativism. At the same time, it was forgotten that in addition to the practical side of buildings and furniture items, their social use is also important. In the ideas and proclamations of avant-garde architects, aesthetic experience was at first completely denied, co-creating the cultural value of objects. The world in question - the environment orthodoxly created according to these views, regardless of the aesthetic side, was very unfriendly. Spaces with bare walls, without decorative objects, paintings, carpets and a minimum number of furniture did not evoke the feeling of a cozy home. It was an effort that went from the flood of decorativism to the purity of forms - to functionalism, which, with its sterility, perhaps even orthodoxly avoided the pursuit of friendliness.

Functionalism with aesthetics
In the creation of the younger pre-war generation, which dealt with both the design of spaces and the design of furniture, emotional influence again found its important place. The authors of the furniture items conceived in this way followed the progress of functionalist approaches more broadly. Mainly because they were able to emphasize the aesthetic side of functionalism as well.

(Source: Stanislav Dlabal, Furniture Art - Selected Chapters from History)