ARCH&UD 30 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Adolf Loos, Bernard Rudofsky
DepartmentArchitecture and Urban Design
Course CodeARCH&UD 30
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Kaylin Portillo Chavez
Reading Response Week 7
Ornaments have been prevalent in human fashion since the beginning of time but are now
being questioned as to whether or not they still have a role in everyday life. In the book,
“Ornament and Crime,” Adolf Loos explains why he believes that ornaments no longer have a
place with the modern man. Meanwhile, in the book, “Underneath Aesthetics and Utility: The
Non Transposable Fetish of Bernard Rudofsky,” Felicity Scott describes Burr’s prediction of
ornaments. While the two men have different views on what the ornaments future role shall be,
they both seem to have the same belief that ornaments role evolve to match either the current
time or culture or both.
According to Adolf Loos, ornaments can only be used when the person doing so is
amoral. For instance, it is perfectly normal for a child or somebody who is from a different
culture to desire to decorate themselves in ornaments because accordsing to Loos, they simply
don’t know any better. Loos does this to try to show that in order to be acceptable to society you
must reject ornaments. He states that “The modern person who tattoos himself is either a
criminal or a degenerate.”1 However, it is important to note that Adolf Loos was known for being
cynical and arrogant thus he was always trying to prove he was superior to the men surrounding
him.2 He even says that he is living in 1912 but his, “neighbor around 1900, and that man over
there in 1880.”3 Thus, in order to live “correctly” in the current time of 1910s one cannot wear
ornaments as they did years prior because it is no longer acceptable by society.
However, Barr has a different theory on ornaments and what their future may look like.
Contrary to Loos, Barr argues that when it comes to ornaments there, “ is no reason why
1 Loos, Adolf. Ornament and Crime. Mexico: Gato Negro Ediciones, 2014,166.
2 Osman, Michael. “Fashion”, Los Angeles, November 14th, 2017
3 Loos, Adolf. Ornament and Crime. Mexico: Gato Negro Ediciones, 2014, 166.
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