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Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Meet Me At The Fair: A World's Fair Reader


With the 1925 Exposition des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris (Paris Decorative Arts Exposition), the French intended to reclaim commercial and aesthetic leadership in the decorative arts, an industry which France had traditionally dominated.1 According to the exposition organizers, development of an original style to signal a clear break with the pastiches of the nineteenth century would be crucial to this enterprise. When the project was first proposed in 1909, French art critic Roger Marx predicted that “an exhibition of this kind would bring an end to the scorn to which the machine has been subjected, and end the longstanding antagonism between architects and engineers [in France].”2 A new aesthetic for the machine age would demonstrate a French decorative arts industry evolving in tandem with the modern technology of mass production. Indeed, the French were being outpaced by competing nations. The 1902 Exposition of Decorative and Modern Arts in Turin had insisted that all submissions show a renewed aesthetic with a marked departure from styles of the past.3 In Germany, the Deutscher Werkbund,4 was developing comprehensive approaches to the decorative arts, bringing together designers and industrialists to produce aesthetically pleasing, high quality, mass-producible furniture and accessories adapted to urban lifestyles and moderate income households.


Originally published in Meet Me at the Fair, A World’s Fair Reader. Ed. Laura Hollengreen and Celia Pearce. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon ETC Press, 2014.