Decoration and the Integrity of Design

The role of decoration in high-art architecture during the modern era has been so vexed an issue that even to list it as one of the major categories of design principles leaves room for misunderstanding. Debate over the issue has revolved around the question of whether or not decoration is an indispensable aspect of polite architecture or, instead, is something unnecessary that has been merely tacked on for far too many centuries. The nineteenth-century theorists regarded it as being inherent to the nature of architecture, as did their predecessors. Only with twentieth-century modernism did it lose favor to the extent of being shunned.

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