Modern architecture claimed to have abandoned meaning – a rupture which still largely defines the approach of the contemporary designer. At the same time, a re-appreciation of craft is emerging, visible in custom-made details and digitally designed or printed facades. The current unrest and anxiety in the world is forcing us to revisit this decorative language in the search for new meaning, for it isn’t so much a matter of overcoming the Modernists’ moralizing arguments or of bringing ornament back, but rather a matter of understanding the power and effect of ornament in a secular environment. In this endeavor, we are promoting beauty as a critical tool for questioning the function of architectural design and its potential to communicate political and social values in theory and practice today. For if the sacred is out, then as designers, we should be able to study beauty too.
This exhibition is based on Ornamental Gaze, a design workshop taught at Istanbul Bilgi University in August 2017. The two-week workshop explored pattern as a medium between indoor and outdoor environments; near and far views; abstract and realistic representations. We dissected the cultural history, symbolism, and aesthetic effect of patterns and finally reconsidered the role of beauty and ornament in contemporary architecture through the archetypal garden pavilion: a gazebo.