Design In A Nutshell


We’re currently in the middle of our reading weeks and at this point, I have read two out of four books required (hurry up, Amazon!) and also finished some books I’ve brought home with me to finally tackle. From our last seminar, I realised I needed to broaden my knowledge on the history and key fashion designers from the 20th century. So ‘Icons of Fashion’ was a great help in that aspect. Moreover, I’m about to start ‘The A-Z of Visual Ideas’ hoping that it will give me some initial ideas for the next module and overall inspiration. I need to constantly remind myself to read more books about art and design and to really immerse myself into the world of fashion.

Anyway, ‘Design In A Nutshell’ is a six-part animation series from the Open University. One of the essential videos we were set, I actually enjoyed the high quality of the graphics and concise summaries concerning six major design movements. It explains the Gothic Revival, Arts and Crafts, Bauhaus, Modernism, American Industrial Design and Postmodernism. While I’ve heard of all of them, I never knew the full reasons why it happened or who the main creators were. From the 19th and 20th Century movements featured in this series, I liked Gothic Revival and American Industrial Design the best because I found the key movements more fascinating than the others. The only criticism that I have is the little too fast (for me, anyway) narrative but apart from that, I’m pleased with the short educational videos.


  1. ‘Gothic Revival was one of the most influential design styles of the 19th century. Revivalists adhered to the romantic notion that stuff could and should look more meaningful, with designs based on forms and patterns used in the Middle Ages.’
  2. ‘This influential design movement began because people got fed up with machines. The Arts and Crafts movement promoted economic and social reform, sticking up for ordinary workers and craftspeople.’
  3. ‘Bauhaus was a totally different type of art school, training students in many art and design disciplines, with the ultimate aim of unifying art, craft, and technology.’OpenUniversity-DesigninaNutshell-COMP2

4. ‘Modernism was a far-reaching ideology applied across virtually all forms of creative expression. The general rule was that function should always dictate form. The approach celebrated mankind’s intelligence, creativity and radical thinking, even if it sometimes verged on the absurd.’

5. ‘From the ashes of the Great Depression, American Industrial Designers brought us the age of mass consumption with their “utilitarian art”: sleek, sophisticated and beautiful objects that everyone wanted to own.’

6.’Less is a bore! More than just an artistic style, Postmodernism was a mindset, a way of rejecting how we understand our world. Because the Postmodernists refused to see things as one thing or another, this blurring of boundaries had the power to bring about great social change.’


You can watch the entire mini series on youtube below starting with Part 1: Gothic Revival

Source – The Open University (youtube channel)


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