Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ornament as Distinct from Decoration

Ornament as Distinct from Decoration


Kent C. Bloomer and John Kresten Jespersen

            The conflation between the terms "ornament" and "decoration" has crippled our modern ability to understand, indeed to teach, the nature and function of ornament.  When wordsmiths and librarians, an influential community who had no real knowledge of the disciplines involved, defined these terms early in the twentieth century they assigned lexicon definitions and subject headings which officially conflated the identity of each. Although the two terms are intimately related, they are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. Consider that the classical Latin language originated and endowed Western culture with two different terms that constituted  primordial distinctions  rather than correspondences  between the definitions of ornament and decoration.
            Let us visit Plato's ancient Academy and review the original usages of the terms. Isidore of Seville, writing in the seventh century AD (the final century of the Academy)  stated that the Greeks compared their word, "cosmos,"1  to the Latin word" ornament"  because the beauty of ornament was manifested in the motions of the heavenly bodies.2 By so doing, the ancient Academy provides us with a glimpse of the originating visual content of ornament. Those words suggest that ornament presented visual attributes of physical activity circulating in the 'world-at-large'  in a place that is external or within the microcosm of the body being ornamented.
            By comparison, according to Vitruvius, writing in the first century AD, "Decoration should be treated with due regard to propriety".3  The term "Propriety" here is implicated with the 'decorum' of the 'immediate social world in which we live'. Therefore when we unite ornament and decoration in a work of architecture we are expected to locate worldly ornament in such a way that simultaneously exhibits local good taste and good manners (decorum). This requires that the distribution of ornament  be designed with decoration in mind.  
            Isidore also  declared that "decoration is anything added to buildings for the sake of ornament [qua ornament]and embellishment [qua decoration] such as ceiling panels set off in gold."4  Let us assume here that  "added…for the sake"  implies that Isidore's  panels are installed over a crude utilitarian surface to provide an intermediate and orderly armature for the sake of distributing ornament within an interior space.
             The ancient Greek linkage of "cosmos" to ornament persisted through the middle ages albeit subject to being viewed through the lens of the medieval quadrivium.  Consider that in 11th and 12th Gothic architecture the idea  'Cosmos' came to be identified within the theological framework of  'neoplatonic' thought5 in which numbers and harmonies manifested ideal forms (such as elementary geometric forms thought to order the stars and other heavenly bodies). Those forms were present in rigid subdivisions of construction.
             By contrast, in Alberti’s  15th century Ten Books on Architecture ,6 the term "ornament" designated  something "attached" to beauty [ i.e. attached to the harmonic proportions that constituted the beautiful ].  His attachments included capitals, columns, statues, and watchtowers. In Alberti's thesis beauty was regarded as the "reasoned harmony"7 of all parts within a body whereas ornament may be identified as a form of auxiliary light . . . something  "attached  or additional"8  to beauty. In so saying Alberti shifted the medieval identity of ornament from 'being' harmony to being 'attached' to harmony. However it is noteworthy that Alberti did not use the term 'decoration' at all suggesting that he conflated the two terms into just one, i.e. "ornament".
            Yet by the mid eighteenth century, into the heartland of the enlightenment,  the term "ornament" is hardly mentioned in Diderot's seminal Encyclopedia.9 The term was expelled from the lexicon of reasonable thought. It only appears in Diderot as a discussion of the fleuron in typography [ which indeed looks like a graphic figure of ornament]. By then "decoration" dominated the architectural discussion. Indeed the scarcity of references to 'ornament' in the Encyclopedia and the subsequent mainstream privileging of 'decoration'  is remarkable. 
            However in the nineteenth century the term "ornament" re-enters the academy with vengeance to nearly dominate the discussion. Owen Jones, in his Grammar of Ornament,10 formulates a modern understanding of ornament by not limiting his study to the post classic European legacy and debate. He draws from all the decorative arts and crafts throughout the world for his examples in his search for an underlying formal typology belonging to ornament as a universal category of visual language. Curiously the most common illustrations of nature in ornament11 in his Grammar seem to incorporate the  sensual leaf-form (a foliation also found in the fleuron).  Jones  proceeded to establish  a theory of construction for both the basic  figures of ornament and for their distribution  in space as decoration.  He gives an example of the essential role of geometry with respect to ornament in his introductory essay titled “Ornament of Savage Tribes,” in which he refers to its extended arrangement, or orderly serial distribution.  The secret of success in all ornament, Jones says," is the production of a broad general effect by the repetition of a few simple elements".12  This taxonomy differs entirely from Alberti's ragbag of "ornament" as constituting all sorts of things attached to beauty.              Jones also notes a specific psychological effect of ornament based on the concept of repose, a condition associated by the seventeenth-century thinker, Blaise Pascal13 with the supernatural. In Jones's view, ornament, with all its mystery and ineffable depth, brings the 'super-nature' of the micro- and macro-cosmos into the mundane world thus pointing once again to the cosmos or the world-at-large  as the principal 'content' of ornament.
        In the sixty years between the publication of Jones's seminal Grammar in 1856 and Alfred Hamlin's History of Ornament in 1916,14 an explosion of knowledge about the subjects of ornament and decoration takes place in which Jones's visual, encyclopedic, and universal approach is advanced by Racinet, Dolmetsch, Prisse d'Avennes, Audsley, Dresser and Speltz, among others.  Jones's theory is also developed by Morris, Day, and Alois Riegl, as well as by anonymous writers of correspondence-school textbooks at the turn of the century.  Finally, there was  sufficient knowledge about ornament and decoration for Hamlin to write his two volume history.  That extraordinary outburst of scholarship was at its most creative and insightful because practitioners of ornament were contributing to the theory of ornament, much as Jones had done earlier. All these writers wrestled with the distinction between ornament and decoration adding to the essential vocabulary the concept of "pattern" such as Joan Evans did in her two volumes written in1931.15 They also granted that a fundamental characteristic of ornament was the distribution, by repetition, of a nucleus comprised of a rather small set of basic figures.
            The confusion between ornament and decoration at the turn of the century, when the Library of Congress was developing its subject headings and classification systems to aid access to the knowledge in the library, is understandable only to the extent that, as in Diderot, decoration had taken the lead in the historic context of enlightenment 'rationalism'.  The powerful French academic Jacques-François Blondel's16 aversion to rococo (and its 'erotic' content), in concert with his biased discussion of decoration in Diderot’s Encyclopedia, contributed to demoting ornament's value to the inferior manual crafts and trades serving the decorative arts. This ensured that the Library of Congress would give precedence to decoration as the superior and  more comprehensive term.   


            The distinctions we are making in this essay are founded upon our understanding of the ancient seminal use of  the terms.  We also accept Owen Jones 'universal' positing of ornament as a particular type of visual grammar and vocabulary. In those lights;
            1. Both ornament and decoration are added to, and dependent upon, the basic utilitarian elements and forms of practical structures and objects such as buildings, rooms, and bowls.
            2. "Decoration" arranges or visually modifies an entire ensemble of  those additions, (an extreme example of decoration would be to paint everything white). Rooted in decorum its function is to manifest good taste and the manners held by a particular constituency.
             3."Ornament" is made up of generative figures that are distributed into a finite portion of the decorated body. The classic function of ornament (Isidore) is to evoke natural forces that originate deeply beyond (in the cosmos) or deeply within (the micro cosmos) of a body. By referencing the cosmos, rather than specific societal values and local circumstances, the repeating figures of ornament articulate the greater world physical forces in which the decorated body is situated.

            Thus, like nature herself, the formations of ornament are natural (universal) rather than specific to the social and practical formations of the particular body being ornamented. Natural 'universality' is evident in the fact that same basic figures of ornament, such as zigzags, rhythmic repeats, and foliations, have persistently appeared as a distinct  thread in the recorded beginning of visual expression  found in the diverse fabric of different types of useful  things such as bowls, columns, wheels, fabrics, weapons, and walls. Despite all the different forms and shapes of bodies into which ornament is embedded, forms to which ornament must respond, it perseveres in its own historic function to evoke a more pervasive (external) order than can be found in the utilitarian body being ornamented. Yet it does so while remaining dependent upon the formal authority of mundane forms of utility for its repository existence. Indeed, it is located, grounded, and illuminated (its own 'cosmic' function made evident) by its implication with the local and practical formations of necessity.
            To illustrate the systematic distinctions between ornament and decoration this essay will review examples  designed by two of the greatest ornamenters in the modern age. We select Owen Jones because he is the seminal modern encyclopedist, and historian of world ornament. He also practiced ornament in the industrial architecture of the 19th century. Louis Sullivan may be regarded as the premier ornamenter of architecture in the twentieth century. The work and philosophies of both reveal the following principles:

1. Ornament is generated by small figures (nuclei) which we will occasionally describe as "phenomenal generators."          

2. Such generators are augmented and distributed by "decorative fields"17 which are discreet parcels of decoration. Those parcels may be considered as particular regions within the complete place being ornamented or as "regions within regions" in which figures of ornament are emplaced.   

3. In architecture decorative fields are very often situated within liminal zones and upon boundaries innate to the places and structures, i.e. in the transitional space between things such as column and beam, roof and sky, inside and outside. In colonizing those zones and boundaries ornament finds a place that echoes its double "inside-outside" nature.

4. Decoration, per se, is the entire ensemble and arrangement of (a.) figures of ornament, (b.) the decorative fields, (c.) figures and forms expressing utility, (d.) other subordinate types of visual language such as writing, picture language, art objects, etc. (e.) lineaments and the articulated numerology of proportions and (f.) furnishings and fixtures such as water faucets, door knobs, etc.

The Decorative Field: Owen Jones and the Lesson of the Persian Carpet
          One consequence of distributing figures of ornament throughout a decorative field is that the field itself, understood as a discreet entity, may become "ornamental," (which is a qualifier, i.e. the field evokes certain "qualities," such as sensation, intricacy, terror, immensity and beauty, generated by the figures of ornament). However a decorative field manifesting those qualities, i.e. the "ornamental" field, is not ornament per se.
            The decorative field is a region originating in the utilitarian form of a body being decorated.  It is a particular geometric, chromatic, material, or topological region that contains and distributes content  'super-added' to basic utilitarian form. The "super-added"18 material could also be constellations of words, symbols, or light fixtures rather than figures of ornament.
Figure 1 Simon Brothers, Philadelphia. Sterling Silver Art Nouveau back. 1904
Figure 2 Indonesian Betel Nut Container, n.d.
            In the Betel Nut Container (Fig. 2) the phenomenal generators are the primitive keys or hooks and four lobed 'foliations' that appear in the center of the diamond field as well as along the borders of the containers. The line work perpendicular to the cylindrical shaft registers the basic geometry of the container and marks the borders of the decorative field distributing the ornament.
            Perceiving or directly experiencing the discreet figures of ornament requires strict attention. Those figures may be perceived as mere texture at a certain distance and thus the field will appear as only decoration or pattern bereft of ornament's particular content.
Figure 3 Detail of Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf
The Warner Scarf, designed by Owen Jones about 1870, illustrates the difference between perceiving figures  up close as "ornament" and seeing the scarf from afar as "decoration".  Intimate examination reveals the unit, 'phenomenal generator' of ornament, and the 'explosive' energy it contains. The intricate unit (Fig. 3) consists of nine clusters (yellow and red) of circles in a square formation, each circle further subdivided by diagonal markers. The central cluster (yellow) hovers over a outward 'radiation' of foliation (blue) that ultimately spirals back inward. Observe that the foliated elements are blue and their ground is green, separated by slender yellow borders. Up close we can explore the basic visual structure constituting Jones's figure of ornament.
Figure 4 Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf, c. 1870
            Now step back and observe the intricate units from afar. The blue foliation and the green ground have "bloomed"19 (optically interacted) into a vibrating apparently homogenous background for clusters of circles. The circles remain geometric figures of repetition upon a textured background.  The background has become a 'sensational' color field while its intricate foliation has disappeared from sight. It is more relevant to our discussion to suggest that the figures which define ornament have been appropriated or consumed by the dominating appearance of the decorative field.
            The phenomenon of ornament becoming decoration when perceived at a distance  occurs in all designs incorporating ornament. A failure to consider the  distance of viewing has also contributed to the confusion between the identities of "ornament" and "decoration." To perceive and experience ornament per se you have to engage its intimate scale of visibility and pay close attention.

Owen Jones, Conventionalization and Color Gravity

            Decorative fields need not have a geometric foundation.  In the first volume of the Journal of Design and Manufacture (1849) edited by Jones's friend and fellow liberal Henry H. Cole, a position paper called for the "distributive treatment" of ornament stated "Ornament is applied to large surfaces in two modes: it is either gathered into groups with the light and the dark, form and colour, contrasting strongly with the ground, on which the groups are sparingly distrib­uted, and which may be called the individual or con­trasted manner, or it is spread equally [geometrically] over the whole surface, the forms of the ornament nearly covering the ground, and the contrasts subdued and simple, which we may call the dividual or distributive manner.".
Figure 5 A. W. N. Pugin. Aisle Wall Stencil, St. Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire, 1845
        The Moors, Jones claimed in a lecture publicizing the printing of the Grammar of Ornament in December of 1856,20 teach us "the great powers of geometrical combination, and the immense value of the principle of repetition of most simple elements." Pugin's emblematic design, which is extremely geometric and "contrastive" in its execution , can be compared to Jones's “distributive” and sensationist design based upon the subordination of the figures of ornament to both geometry and color (see Figure 5).  In Pugin’s heraldic ornament at Cheadle in 1845 regular geometry is the means for disciplining and flattening the ornament to produce a design that is truly two-dimensional, iconic, and “individual.”
                     One of the greatest achievements of Owen Jones as a designer is the visible perception of color gravity in interior decoration.  In a design for Eynsham Hall’s  Card Room[i]ii  (Fig. 6) Jones has brought the sky of the ceiling down to a Goethean black21 at the dado, compressing the crimson line between  the floor (the earth itself) and the wall. This anchoring of the design in the weight of compressed blackness allows the upper portion of the wall to float free of constraint as it embellishes the transitional and liminal intersections of ground, wall and ceiling.
Figure 6 Owen Jones. Eynsham Hall, Card Room, 1872
            Finally Jones asserts that all true [figures of] ornament and its decorative armature are "conventional".  Jones’s Proposition 13 of the Grammar states that “[factual] flowers or other natural objects should not be used as ornaments, but conventional representations founded upon them sufficiently suggestive to convey the intended image to the mind, without destroying the unity of the object they are employed to decorate.  Universally obeyed in the best periods of Art, equally violated when Art declines.”  By the end of the century and into the beginning of the twentieth century, conventionalization developed into a robust practice and theory in the hands of designers like William Morris, George Aitchison, and Lewis F. Day in England, and Frank Furness and Louis Sullivan in the United States. Aitchison’s designs for the daughters of Queen Victoria are brilliant demonstrations of color gravity in the interior.
Figure 7 George Atchinson. Interior Design, c. 1900
            As Deborah Schafter22 has pointed out, Jones had a real influence on Alois Riegl, and their theories echo in the aesthetic theory of Worringer, in the will to abstraction balanced by the need for empathic and natural representation. Jones would never have condoned total abstraction for that would void entirely the sensuality of the phenomenal generator, and empathy would itself be emptied of its dialectical role and its energetic content. In 1908, at the beginning of the 20th century, Worringer23 appealed for an equipoise between abstraction and empathy, employing the powers of both.

             It is telling that Sullivan's System of Architectural Ornament,24 written at the end of his life, so profoundly echoes the procedures of generation and distribution postulated by Owen Jones.
            Both developed their designs by subdividing the greater surfaces of rooms and buildings for the sake of decoration. Primary subdivisions, whether articulated by panels, geometry, color, materials, or conventional lineaments (such as moldings), were claimed for further subdivision and regulation by subordinate decorative fields for the sake of ornament.
            Evidently both Jones and Sullivan had certain figures of ornament in mind at the inception of a design process to be imported and distributed in the subdivisions. Sullivan suggests that was the case. Both designed ornament and decoration simultaneously. Sullivan declared the germ seed, a stem and two cotyledons, to be the "seat of power."[Fig. 8]
 Fig. 8 Sullivan's "Germ Seed"
From that 'phenomenal generator' he proposed there could be an efflorescence, a foliation, or an awakening of form in ornament. He illustrated this in his drawing entitled "The Awakening of the Pentagon." [Fig. 9]
Figure 9 The Awakening of the Pentagon
We can postulate that a pure pentagon is asleep (inert and without life). The act of subdividing and foliating the geometry of the pentagon (and other basic polygons) can infuse the evocative geometry of the germ seed. As the "seed" combines with the pentagon a greater vitality appears. By further subdividing and tweaking the combination figures appear as holes, tendrils, oak leaves, woven spirals, and flowerets imagined to be found in the wilds of nature. The finale of the 'ornamenting process' appears the  awakening a small 'cosmos' within an greater inert field of decoration.
            The three axes of the seed's Y-form provides coordinates  capable of forming continuity over an extended range. Sometimes the extended coordinates  zigzag as they link or cross one unit to another over the terrain of the decorative field.  [Fig. 10] Observe that some properties of Sullivan's "phenomenal generators" are 'explosive' while others are 'connective'.
Figure 10 The Value of Parallel  Axes 

            Distinctions between utility, ornament, and decoration are clearly expressed in Sullivan's 1890 design of the Carrie Eliza Getty Tomb in Graceland Cemetery, Chicago. The tiny building is a rectangular box with a square façade [Fig. 11] mounted on a slab and capped with a slab-like roof. The three primary subdivisions of decoration on the surface of the façade are immediately visible, i.e., the door height base, the voussoir arch, and a decorated wall around the arch between the base and the cornice. The type and ordering of construction is immediately explicit as a load-bearing stonewall upholding a faceted arch made up of seventeen nearly identical wedges.
Figure 11 Getty Tomb Façade
            The absence of ornament in the base is an expression of an earthly, prosaic, and precisely crafted stone upon stone wall. The voussior wedges spanning an opening in the wall are more delicate and partially admitting of ornament which is distributed along three semi-circular bands. A regular octagonal grid on the wall around the arch presents the idea of an infinitely extendable 'cosmos' constituted by radiating ("exploding") peapods thus presenting the tomb as a narrative of earth, sky, and an entrance into darkness. The repetition of peapods also memorialize the many moments of life and death.
            The decoration and ornament of the bronze doors follow the same principle of further subdivision into ornamented decorative fields. The tiniest examples of the trilogy between expressions of construction, decoration, and ornament are to be found on the four hinges.
            Coincident with Getty Tomb, the office of Adler and Sullivan designed the eleven-story Wainwright Building in St. Louis generally regarded to be a prototype of the modern skyscraper. [Fig. 12]
Figure 12 Wainwright Façade
            The hierarchy of decoration is inherited from Western classicism in which there is a vertical trilogy of bottom-middle-top or base, shaft, and pediment. Ornament thrives in the lofty "attic" of the building while the base remains mundane and earthly and thus the attic becomes the primary honorific region while the base remains servile with a stark inert veneer of granite.
            The shafts, forming a colonnade between the base and the attic, are also divided into trilogies of base, shaft, and capital in which the bases and capitals become decorative fields for ornament. Spandrels, woven as horizontal bands slightly behind the shafts, are decorative fields for subordinate ornament that pays homage to each level of offices.
            His primary decorative fields dividing the façade into three parts are also articulated by materials which mutate from hard granite at the base through brick in the colonnade to soft terracotta in the attic to express the  sculptural 'cosmic' intricacy of the turbulent ornament aloft.

Perhaps Sullivan discovered  that distributing ornament along the upper reaches of a tall building situated ornament at too great a distance for the pedestrian viewer looking upward from the street. It could only be perceived as decoration from afar. The fourteen-story Guaranty Building [Fig. 13] was built in Buffalo in 1894-96 and Sullivan chose to distribute ornament consistently over the entire surface. He did not hide the fact that the building was a steel frame clad in terracotta, although he chose to reveal that physical reality by only by alluding to a submerged  frame positioned behind a veil of decoration (somewhat like the ancient Greek sculptor revealing a nude body under drapes of wet cloth). Simultaneously "explosions" of ornament seem to be pushing outward from the main body like eruptions from below the skin.
             Navigating the sequence from physical structure to decoration to ornament was being reconsidered in the entirely uncharted 'tectonics' of the 1890s as buildings increased in height and adopted steel frames while horses were about to be replaced with automobiles.
Figure 13 Guaranty Façade
Figure 14 Carson Pirie Scott Building
            Perhaps there is no building that better defines a strategy for decorating and distributing ornament into twentieth century urban space than the Carson Pirie Scott, originally Schlesinger and Mayer Department Store, designed in 1899/1903-1904 in Chicago. The fourteen-to-eight-story building [Fig. 14] still stands as a masterpiece of modern architecture while harboring one of the most powerful emplacements of ornament into the street life of a modern city.  Sullivan chose to locate a powerful field for ornament at the base where people congregate, especially at the corner of the rectangular block which addresses two streets simultaneously.
            Although the majority of the elevation above the base elevation appears to be unornamented at first glance, it is actually delicately ornamented by two types of narrow-band fields located in the reveals of the windows . [Fig. 15] As a consequence viewing the city from within includes looking through a frame of ornament.
Figure 15 Reveals of Carson Pirie Scott Windows
Figure 16 Slender Bands of Foliation
             On the exterior there are slender bands of delicate foliation  distributed immediately above and below each horizontal row of windows as well as on the exterior surfaces of the window frames. [Fig. 16]  Consider that all those slender bands of ornament disappear when viewed from afar allowing the surface decoration to appear as an unornamented regularized grid emblematic of the 'modern' age.
            However nothing disappears alongside the sidewalk and street. Sullivan's powerful decorative field around the display windows distributes one of the most memorable systems of ornament in the United States. [Fig. 14]  In doing so he returned the spectacle of nature, its winds, foliations, and microcosms, to the city. People, carriages, lampposts, signs, trees, and very visible ornament congregate outside the building to constitute a bubble of life in the engine room of Chicago. The base of the Carson, Pirie, Scott, capped by a mezzanine level cornice, completes a world picture by momentarily and appropriately by superpositioning a 'cosmos' beneath rather than above the expansive geometric facade above.

            Ornament  provides meaningful building blocks for the project of decorating bodies.  But there can be decoration without ornament. While color, proportion, materials, texture, and pattern may be qualities found in ornament they are primarily properties of  decoration. As noted, the modernist white wall or room is a common and homogenous condition of pure decoration.
            The ancient Greek word for ornament, "cosmos," invites us to consider the analogy between a system of ornament and systems of nuclear, molecular, and astro- physical order. Ornament's basic figures and phenomenal generators might be regarded as visual metaphors of the nuclei rooted in a greater system such as the 'world'.  Such nuclei, although seeming to be autonomous 'things'  are fundamentally ambivalent and highly dependent on the activity of the bodies being ornamented. Their ambivalent shapes must simultaneously address the dimensions of the macro and the microcosm. Like the geometry of their spirals and meanders they must push inward and outward as they navigate the body's decorative field.   
            The decorative fields allow ornament's nuclear generators to be reiterated and to be situated adjacent to the unornamented regions of a physical body.  Such reiteration often requires slight variations of  repetition (rhythm) which is a defining property of ornament. Thus ornament claims space by a visually dynamic rhythm rather than by a Cartesian extension (long range numerical positioning).25 It is a homologous system in which its fundamental elements tend to remain self-similar and operationally combinational in the course of repetition.  Such systemization is neither typical nor essential to the ordering of decoration.
            The edges of ornament's decorative fields  establish the limits of ornaments iteration. As they fix ornament's location upon the body being ornamented they also illuminate the critical  unornamented portions of the body, particularly the portions that define the body as a mundane and particular thing.
            The primary authority of decoration  resides in its responsibility to exhibit the local and conventional good manners, good taste, fashionable artistry, and discrimination belonging to a particular constituency from the court of Louis X1V to the casinos of Las Vegas. The primary authority of ornament derives from the life force of matter itself. Its essential building blocks can be identified with visual forms, shapes, and motions that we associate with the natural world-at-large.
            Thus, while the function of DECORATION, its "decorum," is to manifest good, conventional, and esthetic societal standards,  the purpose of ORNAMENT is to momentarily locate ourselves in a much larger place in order to achieve "repose"25  (Owen Jones)  which allows respite from mundane arrest and turmoil together with an affirmation  of the renewal of life. Or it is to bear witness to "equipoise"26  (Worringer) in which lifeless abstractions  are superpositioned with the sensuality of corporeal empathy. For Sullivan ornament distributed into a mundane body must manifest a "mobile27 equilibrium" by which the emptiness  of a basic 'shape' is implicated with the forces of life.
            In all cases ornament belongs to a unique category of visual language in which there can be simultaneous expressions of 'life- death', 'inside-outside', 'here- there' and 'active-rigid' placed together within a visible whole.


Figure 1   Simons Bros., Philadelphia.  Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Mirror Back, 1904.

               Figure 2  Indonesian Betel Nut Container, n.d.

               Figure 3  Detail of Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf, c. 1879. 

               Figure 4 Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf, c. 1870.

               Figure 5:  A.W.N. Pugin,  Aisle wall stencil, St. Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire, 1845. 

               Figure 6:  Owen Jones, Eynsham Hall, Card Room, 1872.

               Figure 7:  George Aitchison, Interior Design. c. 1900. R.I.B.A.


            Figure 8   Sullivan's "Germ Seed."
He illustrated this in his drawing entitled "The Awakening of the Pentagon." [Fig. 9] 

               Figure 9  Awakening the Pentagon.

               Figure 10  Parallel Axes.

               Figure 11  Getty Tomb Façade.

               Figure 12  Wainwright Façade.

               Figure 13  Guaranty Façade.

               Figure 14  Carson Pirie Scott Building.

               Figure 15  Reveals of Carson Pirie Scott Windows.

Figure 16  Slender Bands of Foliation.


Fig. 1  Simons Brothers, Philadelphia. Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Mirror Back, 1904             (author).
Fig. 2  Indonesian Betel Nut Container, n.d. (author).
Fig. 3  Detail of Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf (Victoria and Albert Museum, E.33-   1945)
Fig. 4  Owen Jones, Design for a Silk Scarf, c. 1870. Given by Mrs. Margaret Warner             (Victoria and Albert Musuem, E.33-1945).
Fig. 5  A. W. N. Pugin, Aisle wall stencil, St. Giles, Cheadle, Staffordshire, 1845 (photo William H. Jordy)
Fig. 6  Owen Jones, Eynsham Hall, Card Room, 1872 (Victoria and Albert Museum,    )
Fig. 7  George Aitchison, Interior Design for one of the daughters of Queen Victoria, c.             1900 (R.I.B.A.)
Fig. 8  Sullivan's "germ seed"
Fig. 9  Awakening the Pentagon
Fig. 10 Parallel Axes
Fig. 11 Getty Tomb façade
Fig.12 Wainwright façade
Fig. 13  Guaranty façade
Fig. 14  Carson Pirie Scott Building
Fig. 15 Reveals of Carson Pirie Scott windows
Fig. 16  Slender bands of foliation


1.  Isidore, of Seville, Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, trans. Stephen A. Barney [et. al]
(Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), Book XIII, p.273.

2. Ibid, Book XIII, pp. 271-283. The substance of "cosmos" found in the "mundos" is entirely inanimate.

3. Vitruvius. The Ten Books of Architecture, trans. Morris Hickey Morgan (New York: Dover Press, 1960), Chapter IV, p.209.
4.  Isidore, Etymologies, Book XIX, xi, p. 379.
5. Simpson, Otto von, The Gothic Cathedral (New York: Bollingen Foundation Press, 1962), Chapter 2, pp. 21-58.
6. Alberti, Leon Battista. On the Art of Building in Ten Books, trans. by Joseph Rykwert, Neil Leach, and Robert Travener (Cambridge, Mass: M.I.T. Press, 1988).
7. Ibid, Book 6, p. 156.
8. Ibid, Book 6, p. 156.
9. The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert: Collaborative Translation Project. Web 16 June 2013. The translation project can be accessed by simple, proximity, or Boolean searches.
10. Jones, Owen, The Grammar of Ornament (London: Day and Sons, 1856). Most of the major civilizations in history are represented in color, except for the Yucatan and             Japan. A full 40% of the Grammar are Islamic styles of ornament.
11. Jones, Owen, The Grammar is almost evenly divided between geometric ornaments and leaf and flower conventions. The preponderant weight is towards the geometric, but the theoretical thrust of The Grammar is towards leaf forms (see Chapter XX).
12. Jones, Owen, The Grammar of Ornament, p. 15.
13. Pascal, Blaise, Pensées, introd. T.S. Eliot, (London: Dent and Sons, 1956), part 803, p. 238. "Two fundamentals; one inward, the other outward; grace and miracles;  both supernatural." See also from part 674, p. 190: "nature is an image of Grace,  and visible miracles are images of the invisible."
14. Hamlin, A. D. F., A History of Ornament, (New York: Cooper Square Publishers, 1973).
15. Evans, Joan. Pattern, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931.
16. Blondel, Jacques-François, "Decoration," trans. by Ann-Marie Thornton, The Encyclopedia of Diderot and d'Alembert: Collaborative Translation Project, Wed 16 June 2013. Originally published as "Decoration,: Encyclopedie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et les metier, 4:703 (Paris, 1754).
17. Jespersen, John Kresten, "Owen Jones's The Grammar of Ornament of  1856: Field Theory in Victorian Design at the Mid-Century," PhD. diss., Brown University, 1984. Deals with The Grammar as a source of modern architectural theory and discusses the "colored field" (p. 80), "conventional field design (p. 103), and "the decorative field" (p. 110).
18. Dresser, Christopher, The Art of Decorative Design, (London: Day and Son, 1862), p.1.
19. Jones, Owen, The Grammar of Ornament, p. 7, proposition 22.
20. Jones, Owen, Lectures on Architecture and the Decorative Arts, (London: Strangeways & Walden, printers, 1865), Lecture IV, p. 102.
21. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Goethe's Theory of Colours, trans. of Zur Farbenlehre, by Charles Lock Eastwood, (London: J. Murray, 1840), The translation was in Owen Jones's library at his death in 1874.
22. Schafter, Debra, The Order of Ornament, the Structure of Style: Theoretical Foundations of Modern Art and Architecture, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 44-59.
23. Worringer, Wilhelm, Abstraction and Empathy, trans. Morris Hickey Morgan, (New York: Dover Press, 1960), Chapter 3.
24. Sullivan, Louis H., A System of Architectural Ornament According with a Philosophy of Man's Powers, facsimile ed., (New York: Press of the American Institute of Architects, 1924), p. 4.
25. Bloomer, Kent, The Nature of Ornament, (New York: W.W. Norton, 2000), Chapter 5, pp. 61-65.
26. Jones, Owen, The Grammar of Ornament, Proposition 3.
27. Worringer, Wilhelm, Abstraction and Empathy, Chapter 3, p.66.
28. Sullivan, Louis H., Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings, (New York: Dover, 1979), p. 200.


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