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Why do Beautiful Things Make us Happy - And Why Does Modernism Make us Sad?

Why do Beautiful Things Make us Happy - And Why Does Modernism Make us Sad?

A recent exhibition at the MAK Vienna - Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art, is showcasing the works of Sagmeister & Walsh, a NYC-based design firm investigating what makes beauty so appealing.

Titled "Beauty," the exhibition explores the notion that beauty operates as an independent function, and that in itself, it can be the primary motive for architecture: form is a function. In collaboration with the YouTube channel and design studio Kurzgesagt (In A Nutshell), this video released along with the exhibition explains why beautiful things make us happy.

© Aslan Kudrnofsky © Aslan Kudrnofsky © John Madere © Aslan Kudrnofsky + 6

Why do Beautiful Things Make us Happy - And Why Does Modernism Make us Sad?, © Aslan Kudrnofsky
© Aslan Kudrnofsky

Beauty is nothing tangible; it only exists in our heads as a pleasant feeling...Humans seem to be in mysterious, inherent agreement about the beauty of certain things. 

Through the use of eye-tracking software and various social experiments, it was determined that humans are more attracted to ornamental or vivid design and dissuaded by the more minimalist and melancholic feats of modernist architecture. Further examples of graphic design, product design, architecture, and city planning, the firm shows how beautiful objects, buildings, and strategies are more effective designs rather than just simply pleasing.

© Aslan Kudrnofsky
© Aslan Kudrnofsky

Eliminating the ornamentation and excesses of existing buildings, modernism featured hard-edges and spare walls, whose material scale was discomforting to the eye. If modernism was a necessary movement to unshackle design from the traditions of past manifestos and historical references, perhaps postmodernism is equally as important. The return of collage, for example, draws attention to the need for the aesthetic that combats the monotony of modernism and reflects that architecture is still art, rather than the hyperrealistic rendering of a project for a client.

If beauty makes us happier - and healthier, then to some degree, it is a function of our well-being. Perhaps then, architects don't need to justify why their designs look a certain way. 

News via MAK Vienna

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About this author
Cite: Vasundhra Aggarwal. "Why do Beautiful Things Make us Happy - And Why Does Modernism Make us Sad?" 30 Nov 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/906762/why-do-beautiful-things-make-us-happy-and-why-does-modernism-make-us-sad/> ISSN 0719-8884
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