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Three Postmodern Designers You Should Really Know

September 2017Words by Mr Oli Stratford

Residence in Origlio, Switzerland, by Mr Mario Botta, 1982. All photographs courtesy of Thames and Hudson

“Postmodernism is the most provocative, most controversial, most varied and least understood term in the panoply of 20th-century design.” Thus Ms Judith Gura sets out her stall in Postmodern Design Complete, her splendidly comprehensive survey of postmodernist design. Postmodernism, Ms Gura notes, may have been the darling of 1970s and 1980s architecture and design, but pinning down with any precision what it actually was is a fraught business. The essential problem is one of variation. There are numerous postmodernist designers (although, curiously, few will today admit to having been disciples of the movement), but most are little like one another. Despite having been the scourge of rationalists and functionalists the world over, postmodernism itself was a sweated-down hotpot of disparate ingredients: a preference for everyday materials, a desire to collage historical references, an anarchic use of pattern and colour, and a healthy disregard for the strictures of modernism, to name just a few. From within this mélange, considerable variety could be found. To mark the release of Postmodern Design Complete, MR PORTER is delighted to share its guide to three of the movement’s most genre-bending practitioners, all of whom feature in Ms Gura’s masterful overview.

Mr Hans Hollein

Retti candle shop, Vienna, by Hans Hollein, 1966