Have you ever wondered what attracted you to a new iPad, a new smartphone, or any other modern device? Was it its fascinating technology or its simplicity of design? Design has become an essential communication tool and it is difficult to imagine new technologies without it. I wanted to look at the timeline of history to define the correlation between technology and design and their impact on each other. I used an art history timeline to compare the evolution of both areas.
1750-1850 The industrial revolution and romanticism.
The first prominent interaction between technology and design (art at the time) began with the Industrial Revolution. It goes without saying that the Industrial Revolution was the starting point of modern technological development and has changed the social, economic and cultural conditions of the time.
Design existed primarily in art form at that time and was in transition from the Baroque movement (1600-1750) to Neoclassicism (1750-1850) and later to Romanticism (1780-1850). While neoclassicism was inspired by the “classical” art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, romanticism was already a reaction to the Industrial Revolution with its population growth and urban expansion. Romanticism portrayed the achievements of individualists and heroic artists, whose pioneering examples would uplift society.
1765 Steam engine.
1783 First hot air balloon.
1796 Lithographic printing process.
1816 First photographic negative.
1835 First photograph.
1843 The typewriter is invented.
1847 Rotary press.
1850-1900 The second industrial revolution and realism.
The second part of the Industrial Revolution is also known as the electromechanical era. Technological and economic progress led to the development of steamships, railways, electric power generation, and many more.
The visual art of the time was about truth and precision and was called Realism. Many paintings depict people at work, emphasizing the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Advances in photography, made during the 19th century, took the popularity of realism to the next level, creating the desire for people to reflect everyday reality. The art during the second half of the 19th century was called Impressionism and it emphasized an accurate representation of light that could have been influenced by the discoveries of photography.
1879 Electric light bulb.
1892 Diesel engine.
1894 Radio waves.
1880-1914 Art Nouveau.
At the end of the 19th century, the production of art by machine was increasing. The first device that could easily and quickly set up complete lines of fonts for use in printers, the Linotype machine (1886), revolutionized the art of printing. This invention increased the demand for typography and resulted in the design of Akzidenz Grotesk (1898), the first widely used sans serif typeface.
The same 1898 was the year of the first commercial film. Many others soon followed, initiating a separate new form of visual art: movies.
This period was critical in design history as it branched out from art and found its way into all kinds of commercial design. The movement called Art Nouveau started graphic and advertising design and by 1909 magazines had become important advertising channels. Art continued to evolve from movement to movement, from Post-Impressionism, Expressionism to Cubism, and more.
1886 Linotype machine (typesetting).
1892 Alternating current generator.
1900 First mass-marketed camera: the Brownie.
1903 powered plane.
1907 Color photograph and helicopter.
1908 First mass production of the Ford Model T automobile.
1910-1930 Art Deco.
The growth of the professional graphic design industry has grown in parallel with the rise of consumerism. As technology continued to improve and monetize its inventions, design was becoming a communication tool. Art Deco was an ornamental design style based on geometric shapes inspired by technologies such as aviation, radio, electric lighting, and others. Its linear symmetry was a distinctive step towards the simplicity of the fluid asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor Art Nouveau style. The Art Deco design was suitable for reading from a speeding car.
In 1919, the first model of the modern art school, the Bauhaus, was founded in Germany and had a profound influence on art, architecture, typography, and all forms of design, finally providing the framework for modern design.