Amelie Spitz MFA

Master-Thesis: "Ornament"

Supervision: Prof. Ute Eitzenhöfer, Prof. Eva-Maria Kollischan, Prof. Theo Smeets

"The easiest description to understand ornament can be taken from the Oxford dictionary with the following description of a decoration being „a thing used or serving to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose“. However, this description is difficult to accept just as a single understanding of what an ornament is. On the other hand, it would be too easy to assume that an ornament can be „everything“.
One of the most widespread argumentation on ornament, is that of Adolf Loos and his book „Ornament and crime“, which in my point of view approves on the above mentioned description on ornament the most. For Adolf Loos ornament became an empty block of material with no use.
The ornament is connected with material, we can only understand the impact of ornament on society through the fragments that were left to us from prior generations and ancient cultures. To understand ornament therefore, we have to go back in time to see what it meant in previous eras.
„The Grammar of Ornament“ (1856) written by Owen Jones in his late years summarizes a huge amount of knowledge on ancient ornament. Every tribe that produces ornament of its own cultural value would always apply the same code or approach: inspiration from nature.
Ornament plays with our minds. The idea of reality and unconsciousness comes into play: ornament could not exist without its material.
An ornament is more than a beautiful decoration, it implies a particular condition, a skill which represents a moment of time."

back-to-top nach oben