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How global crisis affects design

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How global crisis affects design

Article by Rebecca Bellan.

At the turn of the 20th century, the modern bathroom began to develop alongside outbreaks of tuberculosis, cholera, and influenza, implementing standard features in order to promote health and hygiene in the home during widespread public health concerns.

During and immediately after the Great Depression, the design of everything from vehicles to appliances became minimalist and industrial, tending towards the modern “streamlined” look, which was characterized by rounded edges and sleek shapes. For example, in 1934, industrial designer Raymond Loewy redesigned the Coldspot refrigerator, turning it into “a single smooth, gleaming unit of functional simplicity.”

Now the world has suffered another crisis, but to paraphrase former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: never waste a good crisis. Indeed in times of political upheaval or widespread health issues, designers across industries have used these moments in time to pivot towards simplicity. When resources are scarce and when above all sustainability and efficiency are the most important design priorities, form tends to follow function. […]

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