Icon 157: Pop modernism 02.06.16

Available now, our latest issue explores the urban environments that spawned punk on both sides of the Atlantic and features a cover designed by legendary graphic designer Malcolm Garrett

In 1981, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released their third album, Architecture & Morality. The record’s title reversed architectural historian David Watkin’s Morality and Architecture – a scholarly riposte to the idea that modern architecture should always reflect the zeitgeist rather than attempt timelessness through classical forms. OMD were not hung up on such ideological battles, but the album, which overlaid ecclesiastical chanting onto ultra-synthetic electronica, did acknowledge a classical history seen as passé by a generation of Le Corbusier-inspired modernists.

Other references to architecture in music have been more overt. In his breakout solo hit Everyday is like Sunday, Morrissey invoked the ghost of Betjeman when he sang of ‘the seaside town that they forgot to bomb. Come, come, come, nuclear bomb!’ But it was the bands rising from the embers of punk – OMD, Magazine, Joy Division and later New Order – that first attempted to make sense of a modernist story that was by then entering its closing chapters. As our cover story shows, the drama played out on both sides of the Atlantic – from the spluttering steel mill towns of Ohio to the concrete tower blocks of Manchester.

These unlikely canvasses produced an incredibly original moment in the annals of pop, with the music finding its visual expression through designers like Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett (who designed our cover this month) – both saw bands as vehicles to express their own ideas about modernism. The result was a fascinating intersection between visual and aural art, which reverberates today.

 

Words

James McLachlan

 

Cover artwork: Malcolm Garrett; artwork below: Images&Co Architecture & Morality, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, DinDisc album 1981, designed by Peter Saville Associates

 

SUBSCRIBE TO ICON

quotes story

In his breakout solo hit Everyday is like Sunday, Morrissey invoked the ghost of Betjeman when he sang of ‘the seaside town that they forgot to bomb’

leader

IN THIS ISSUE

LIFESTYLE

lifestyle

Kit Care-free canvas bags, Scandi speakers, retro-futuristic instant cameras, architecturally inspired fashion and more

Home A collagey collection of tiles by Barber & Osgerby and a vase that makes us melt

Transport Zaha Hadid’s first posthumous project in Salerno and Volvo reinvents its famed estate with the V90

Destination A mirrored urban pavilion in Santiago, a brutalist-inspired store in Stockholm, Barcelona’s coolest hotel bar, the vibrant Casa Fayette Hotel in Guadalajara and Hudson, the sleepy town transforming itself into upstate New York’s newest design hub

ARCHITECTURE

architecture

Pop goes the modernism How the drawn-out decay of post-industrial cities gave punk its avant-garde edge

Residential Montpellier’s veiled new residential block

Residential Is co-living a collective nightmare?

Public An odd urban rock formation comes to California: Snøhetta’s SFMOMA extension

Office An unnamed mining company’s new digs in central London makes a solid case for the merits of old-fashioned workspace design

Icon New Delhi’s threatened Pragati Maidan convention halls combine tradition with optimism

Q&A Ekow Eshun and Will Strong discuss Power and Architecture at Calvert 22

DESIGN

design

Norm to the core Industrial design by Foster + Partners

Kitchen SmartSlab and the kitchen-surface revolution

Bathroom Watermark makes a splash in Clerkenwell

Furniture Karoline Fesser’s All Wood Stool for Hem

Furniture Patricia Urquiola and Federico Pepe’s Credenza

Lighting Wrong London: An eclectic collection that gets it emphatically right

Icon The barbecue

Q&A Konstantin Grcic keeps things fresh with Cassina

Ideas How to get noticed

Rethink Bank of America(ns)

Obsession Roger FitzGerald on his love of London

   

Leave a comment

Click to show