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'Italianita': Debates on architecture and design in Milan 1945-1964

Arnardottir, H; (1999) 'Italianita': Debates on architecture and design in Milan 1945-1964. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Historian Carl E. Schorske argued in the introduction to his book Fin-de-siècle Vienna. Politics and culture (1981) that in most fields of intellectual activity, twentieth-century Europe has proudly asserted its independence from the past. In this thesis, focusing on the period between 1945 - 1964, Schorske's argument will be responded to by demonstrating that the Italian sense of modernity projected itself in a dialogue with history. History was lived experience in the city, home and object and as such served to enrich the language of design and enabled the architect to create new signs out of pre¬existing forms and from new relationships between artefacts. The research looks into this very particular and Italian phenomenon - the creation of an urban culture through a group of magazines, rather than through lived experience of the objects and buildings described. Italian architecture and design was not just about designers creating things, it was also about the 'systems' through which they were represented to the world which suggests that Italianita' was not identified solely in the object, home and city but in the 'system' in which their meanings floated, and which was at least partially created by the magazines. Design was understood as a concept, a cultural formation prior to materialisation into physical object. The thesis sets up an enquiry into identifying major issues arising in three magazines all published in Milan: Casabella continuita, Domus and Stile Industria in respect to the city, home and object. This provides a framework for a whole set of questions concerning other concepts such as 'italianita', 'modernity', 'memory', 'civilta', 'identity', 'history', 'culture', 'typology', 'preesistente ambientali', 'universal and contextual values', 'communication' and 'myth'. The early development of many of these conceptions by the Italians greatly influenced 1970s and 1980s thinking about architecture in Europe and America.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'Italianita': Debates on architecture and design in Milan 1945-1964
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10123355
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