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About the book
The history of modern design and architecture has seen many attempts to embrace and merge different art forms, and to bring art into the framing of everyday life and the organisation of modern society, in a process understood as total design or total architecture. These attempts were historically based on the romanticist idea of merging all art forms into a uniting and transgressing work of art, mostly associated with – but certainly not limited to – Richard Wagner’s theoretical writings and musical dramas.
This utopian dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or Total Work of Art, was intended both to bring unity to the people and to bring art into the everyday life of their homes, as well as into factories, cities and even modern media. As a result, the experiments ranged from music, poetry and drama to architecture, design, visual communication and city-planning. These ideas of merging art forms into more immersive and transgressive installations or design interventions to change everyday life are widespread today, but their complex and often problematic roots are mostly ignored. Design and architecture have delivered some of the broadest and most influential experiments with the Gesamtkunstwerk, from garden cities for workers and corporate identity design to the German AEG corporation.
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