International Style FURNITURE ................Illustrated Architecture Dictionary.................Styles of Architecture

International Style

A style of architecture applied to residences and public buildings that is minimalist in concept, is devoid of regional characteristics, stresses functionalism, and rejects all nonessential decorative elements; typically this style emphasizes the horizontal aspects of a building.

The International Style blossomed in 1920s Western Europe: the Dutch de Stijl movement, the work of visionary French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier and the German Bauhaus.

The term International Style came from the 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, organized by Philip Johnson, and from the title of the exhibition catalog for that exhibit, written by Johnson and Henry Russell Hitchcock.


In a broader view, the international style is part of late 19th and early 20th century Modernism - the conviction that the traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.

Bauhaus in the US

The Bauhaus lasted from 1919-1933, at which time the faculty fled to escape Nazi Germany. (School building photo) When Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer fled, they both arrived at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, in an excellent position to extend their influence and promote the Bauhaus as the primary source of architectural modernism. When Ludwig Mies van der Rohe fled in 1938, he came to Chicago, founded the Second School of Chicago at IIT and solidified his reputation as the prototypical modern architect.

After World War II, the International Style matured, HOK and SOM perfected the corporate practice, and it became the dominant approach for decades.

Daylight Factory substyle


In the decades separating World Wars I and II, Americans tended to prefer period houses that reflected past traditions, while European architects emphasized radically new designs that came to be known as International style architecture. Le Corbusier had stressed the idea of the house as a "machine for living."

During the 1930s these ideas were introduced into the United States by several distinguished practitioners, like Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra and Marcel Breurer who emigrated to escape the developing chaos in Europe.

Defining features:


Examples from Buffalo architecture:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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