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Monday, October 31, 2011

A Brief History of Interior Design and Decoration (Part 2)

Happy MONDAY again, sweet friends!!! I can't believe it is the last day of October! This month has really flown!!! We have had some warm and beautiful days this month as well as some really chilly, dark and drizzly ones. Today it is chilly and overcast and looks like we might be in for some rain later on this afternoon. I am still hoping that all of my friends that got snow this past week-end are doing well and staying warm. I have been working on my regular Monday household chores around our home this morning and decided to take a break while one load of laundry is washing and another load is drying to post this week's decorating and design history installment. I hope that you will like it and that you might learn a little something you may not have known before.

Greek architecture and furnishings reflect a great understanding of the elements and principals of design that continue to be used by the architects and designers in the 21st century. In contrast to the use of symbolism in the Egyptian world, the Greeks emphasized the use of line, repetition, variety and form in their buildings, homes, furnishings and art work. This is most evident in the buildings that were used for worship, government and commerce and the fine arts and furnishings of the culture.

The monumental official buildings of Greece exhibit a grand scale with tall columns spaced in rhythmic rows and a variety of elaborate entablatures. The buildings were skillfully designed with precise symmetry and balance, generally rectangular in form and usually constructed of stone. The roof lines were supported by a system of trusses constructed in a triangular configuration that added strength to the roof and formed the pediment area of the building façade. The pediment was decorated with repetitive patterns and moldings. The various styles of these moldings and patterns are the origin of those seen in many modern structures. These include the egg and dart, bead and reel, dentil pattern treatments as well as cyma, fillet, fascia, torus and ovolo moldings. Under the Pediment was the entablature divided into three areas: a cornice, a frieze and an architrave with additional moldings and carvings of trigliphs and metopes in the frieze area. Perhaps the most identifiable element of all Greek architecture was the stately columns. These strong vertical columns were admired for their ornamental qualities rather than structural strength. The shaft of the columns were carved and fluted and given a slight curve, or entasis, perhaps as a method of aiding water shed. They were then topped with capitals that were indigenous to their particular architectural order. These three distinct orders of Greek culture were the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders. Doric columns had capitals that were simple, Ionic columns were topped with scroll like capitals and Corinthian columns had profuse carved Acanthus leaf motifs at their crown The Corinthian order was a late historical category and not preferred by the architects of classic Greece. Rare substitutes for columns on buildings were tall female figures known as caryatids. The form was generally used as a chair or table leg design, but they were occasionally used to adorn Greek structures. Furnishings used in these stately structures included the highly decorated thronos and the diphros stool with legs that were either fixed or folding.

The homes of Greek citizens were much simpler compared to the impressive scale and magnificent ornamentation of ceremonial buildings. Nonetheless, their homes incorporated furnishings decorated with patterns that added contrast and interest to their every day lives. The central feature of these domiciles was the open courtyard areas with all other rooms placed around it, often in a radial balance. There were no windows in these early homes and the sun from the courtyard was used as the main light source. The interior walls were constructed of sun-dried bricks of mud and early examples had simple plaster or whitewash as the finish. In later periods color pigments were added to provide variety. Rooms in most homes included a living room focused around a hearth, called the oikos, a kitchen and a bath. The room most prized by the men of these homes was the andron. This was a covered room off of the courtyard with an alter to the family gods where men would meet to dine. The andron often had decorative mosaic floor treatments and would accommodate seven or more klini, or reclining couches, to be used by the guests with individual tables, called trapezas, with three legs. The legs of tables and klini were often designed with wooden legs ornamented with turnings. The most graceful form of furniture developed by the Greeks was the klismos chair. These chairs were used throughout houses and semi-public buildings. The klismos had a splat back and elegant outwardly curved legs and is frequently represented on painted pottery vases from the Hellenistic period of Greek history.
The pottery of ancient Greek vases was one of the crowning achievements of Greek culture. The vases in their varying shapes were created for functional uses but were also highly prized because of their painted surfaces. The two major styles of vase paintings were the black figured and red figured forms. The earlier black figured vase had a red clay background with images painted on in black ink while the later red figured versions used the opposite method of painting the background in black and leaving images in the red clay state. Greek artisans were also well known for their work in sculptures of stone and bronze. These sculptures developed over time from the simple work of the archaic period (600-480 B.C.) in early Greece to the highly detailed and animated work of sculptures during the Hellenistic period (323-146 B.C.). Among the pieces that best represent the work of the latter Hellenistic artists is the statue of The Laocoon Group that portrays the Trojan priest and his two sons as they strive to free themselves from snakes sent by Apollo to destroy them. The degree of agony expressed in the faces of the figures is great and lifelike as are their torsos represented in stone as writhing and twisted.
The architects and artisans of the ancient Greek world began to develop and better understand the elements that define strength in design. Throughout the course of Greek history a great number of designs that are used as standards for the development of modern buildings, furnishings and art forms came into being. The quest for quality and clarity of line and purpose pursued by the craftsmen and architects of ancient Greece is a attribute that is rare. As cultures continue to emulate the forms that made up the structures of this ancient civilization few come close to their simple perfection in design.

I have included a link to a site about Ancient Greek Art and Architecture. There are many wonderful resources and images there. I hope to post a Daybook entry sometime tomorrow. For now I will close and wish you a good day.  May your day go well and I hope that you will accomplish all you have on your "to-do" list! Sending you ((Hugs)) from WV!

Stay Cozy,

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