LeCorbusier says: "Modern art, which is machine made, needs no decoration - can have no decoration." He says that the rational perfection and precise determination of machine products made solely for functional ends create in them a quality which gives them a style. I doubt that this is a final word. To my mind it represents the logical French point of view carried to an extreme that loses sight of the psychological that is, the aspect that demands charm, intimacy and variety in our household belongings. This question, however, we need not attempt to settle to-day. What is clear is that at present modern design in its best and sanest manifestations, as far as it relates to three-dimensional things, mainly represents an effort to express what are conceived to be sound, practical and aesthetic principles peculiarly related to modern life. Let me try to define these principles as I see them in this particular relation. First of all, I should say modernism requires direct and effective meeting of functional needs and straightforward construction that respects the nature of material involved. These two ideas are very old. They are attributes that have characterized every high period of art, and they have been lost sight of in every decadent period. They have in particular been in the background of artistic thought for the last three-quarters of a century since Ruskin hammered upon them and reiterated them to the betterment of the world's art. Let us see why they are so peculiarly meaningful to-day.
1 Adapted from "Sane and Insane Modernism in Furniture," Good Furniture and Decoration, January, 1929. Reprinted by courtesy of Good Furniture and Decoration Magazine.