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The 20th Century

This century ushered in a new era of innovation as the modern style swept through Europe. Any element that recalled past styles was banished, especially at the turn of the century. Although World War I put a brutal stop to the inventive spirit of the modern style, it was only a temporary hiatus, and a new burst of creative activity occurred as soon as the war was over. In 1919, Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus in Weimar, Germany. This was an experimental design school that acted as a catalyst for the Art Deco style and functionalism. Developed just after the deprivations and tragedies of the war years (1914-1918), the Art Deco style burst onto the scene like a spectacular fireworks display. Functionalism proposed an entirely different approach, characterized by creative yet affordable furniture that relied on mass production techniques. Furniture had to be adapted to smaller apartments and to the budgets of the new middle class, a well-educated group of modest means. By the 1960's, the Bauhaus principles had been fully assimilated and creative individualism triumphed. The Design movement developed in Italy and Scandinavia and quickly spread to other countries. In the 1970's, designers worked more closely with industrial processes so that their creations would become even more accessible to the general public. In the 1990's, as environment and waste management issues took on greater importance, a new international movement appeared that emphasized the recycling of discarded materials. This recycled furniture is extremely imaginative and has been exhibited in major galleries in Paris, London, Tokyo and New York.