William Morris was part of the arts and crafts movement. A reactionary group that contested the current mechanistation and the separation of man from nature. It saw the revival of handicraft. Morris used medieval embroidery techniques based on Opus Anglicanum for his wallpapers, rather than use the machines and new technologies that were available. (Morris 1893) A few decades later modernism had taken root. With LeCorbusier at the forefront of Modern Urbanism, minimalist, pure, functional style dominated. Le Corbusier dreamed of “cleaning and purging” the city, bringing “a calm and powerful architecture” - referring to steel, plate glass, and reinforced concrete. Though Le Corbusier’s designs for Stockholm did not succeed, later architects took his ideas and partly “destroyed” the city with them. (Theodore Dalrymple, 2009)
images are ones that, while abstract, nevertheless refer to, or evoke, living forms such as plants and the human body. The term comes from combining the Greek words bios, meaning life, and morphe, meaning form.” Forms from nature were abstracted and turned into designs for ceramics, furniture and architecture etc. Bruno Tauts Glass Pavillion 1914 (Fig. 007) exeplifies modernist utopian biomorphic architecture, as do his drawings for “Alpine Architecture”. The style persisted through the 20th century, for example Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal at JFK Airport (1962) reflects the organic curves and forms found in nature for their aesthetic, continuing the taxonomic subordination of nature as a pleasing abstracted form.
For the modernists, nature became irrelevant and passé, for the city superseded nature as the life force. The only place nature had in this movement was in abstracted shape or symbol. Le Corbusier used the symbol of the kidney to reference the design of the washroom for the unbuilt Olivetti Headquarters project (Fig. 006) (Pawlyn 2011) Biomorphism is a good example of bio-inspired design. Emerging in the early 20th century, biomorphism models architecture and products on the forms found in nature. Tate glossary defines Biomorphism“Biomorphic forms or
Biomimetic Design for Landscape Architecture