Is ornament really a crime?

Ornament, in the dictionary definition, is decoration added to embellish something, especially buildings. So, decoration might be a necessity, but where to use it and controlling the dose is important. It is odd that ornamentation can influence the price of a product. Paying more money to clothes which are planer than the one’s which have more sparkles on it, is what I am trying to explain. They both are a fashionable some how, but one is more expensive. The one which is more valuable has lower labour work. This is also something to be considered.

Austrian architect Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos, who is briefly known as Adolf Loos states in Crime and Ornament that ornament is not useful, it doesn’t provide any benefit to architectural design. I get that every body has their own design idea and views can differ, but Adolf Loos felt strongly that ornament was a crime . Yes, he is right some how. Ornament destroys the labour work and that results as lower wages. There is a good example given in the text referring to the job of two shoemakers. One who uses no decoration while producing it and earns more money and one who works with ornamentation and has difficulties at life. Be simple. Think as an architect. So, designing a modern structure full with ornaments will be weird. There will be something that doesn’t make sense or a bad visual pleasure will occur. The issue here is the material and the decorations, there create a contrast. Using unique material with ornament will kill the feature of the buildings. He also says that ornament is something that alters by the culture. It’s not something stable. Since culture can be influenced by anything imagined, it will change frequently. That is not something we except, cause ornament can be tattooed to anything and change in ornament means having change in the trend too. In Adolf’s writing there is a state which is about burning the old furniture because of the change of the fashion. This is why the author says that ornament is unnecessary.

Ornament does not heighten my joy in life or the joy in life of any cultivated person. If I want to eat a piece of gingerbread I choose one that is quite smooth and not a piece representing a heart or a baby or a rider, which is covered all over with ornaments. The man of the fifteenth century won’t understand me. But all modern people will.


Taken reference from:

Adolf Loos’ Quote

Ornament and Crime cover page

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