i+D - January/February 2020 - 44

2.

Philosophy of Design
Persevering long after the forces that aided in their establishment, design
and architecture often serve as barometers for the current and incumbent
political climates. South Florida designer Laetitia Laurent, principal and lead
designer at Laure Nell Interiors, waxed philosophical on the matter. "Aristotle
was the first philosopher to introduce the idea that cities were to be shaped
with the political regime of the time in mind," she notes. "Paris, where
I grew up, reflects this concept like no other city in the world. A straight line
connects the Place de la Concorde and its 3,000-year-old Egyptian obelisk
to the Arc de Triomphe, which stands to commemorate those who died for
France during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, to the city's
major business district, La Défense."

1.

Coffman echoes the famed Greek philosopher's stance, musing, "What
we build always reflects the ideas, aspirations, means, technology, and
values of those with the power and capacity to build. That doesn't change;
what does shift to some degree is who has that power and capacity." In the
Middle Ages, it was the church and the aristocracy. In the 19th century the
British Empire adopted Gothic as its signature style and used it to imprint
an image of Englishness across the empire. Mussolini used a stripped-down,
harsh version of classical architecture to frame his fascist regime as the
20th-century heir to the Roman Empire. "Particularly in imperial contexts,
architecture has always been a powerful tool of mass communication,"
says Coffman.

1. Among Paris' iconic
structural landmarks is
its 3,000-year-old
Egyptian obelisk.
(Image: Vitor Pinto/Unsplash)

2. The ornate San Carlo
Quattro Fontane in Rome
exemplifies the Catholic
Baroque style.
(Image: courtesy of Peter Coffman)

3. The English Whig take on
Neoclassicism is evident in
the design of Chiswick House
in London.

"What we build always reflects the
ideas, aspirations, means, technology,
and values of those with the power
and capacity to build."

(Image: courtesy of Peter Coffman)

-PETER COFFMAN, CARLETON UNIVERSITY

44

i+D - January/February 2020



i+D - January/February 2020

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