In connection to its 77th number, FACES magazine launches a peer-reviewed call for papers on the subject of decor, its use today in architecture and its relation to history. Henri Focillon talked about the geometries of ornement and the strange filiation of ornament which apriori shares its etymological roots with the word “order”. At once superfluous addition and animating principle, a setting into motion, or into storytelling, ornement often depends on very precise internal rules or symmetry games, to such an extent that certain periods in the history of architecture seemed to coincide in historiography with that of ornamental surcharge when (in the Middle Ages and in Baroque) structure merges and mixes with ornamental lines. If in the beginning of the modern mouvement ornament was a crime, the material, because of its capacity to make decor, has known throughout the XXth century its most radical period. We have since seen the way the architectural motif in its repetition became element of decor, of furnishing, of filling in. In recent years, with the rise of digital design and fabrication, it has even become indiscernible from structure, igniting a (new) wave of “organised crime” (Miller) where ornament simultaneously responds to performative and affective criteria.
Decor presupposes a background on which it must attach itself, an empty space in which it can evolve, a simple canvas, at times neutral, from which it can detach, just like the vegetal lines, the shapes of rinceaux (Riegl) that have detached themselves since antiquity from the tectonic structures in order to become elements of bonding, or the expression of a profound pulsion that alludes to the so-called minor arts: the arts of textile or of metal work (Semper), that are based on repetitive and ritualistic operations and in which an entire community recognises itself. The decor is perhaps that which falls outside of the basic functions of architecture, participating for this reason to “well-being” by forming “ambiances” and “environments”.