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They say that good artists borrow, and great artists steal.

In many ways, our 21st century design is about a bit of both, borrowing and stealing from different eras to come up with something that is repositioned for a modern context through tasteful combinations, and by making aesthetic connections between eras. In the world of science, this is a part of the concept of standing on the shoulders of giants, as Sir Isaac Newton said.  The same principle applies to design. It’s about evolving from one era to another. But, it’s also about knowing what to keep and what to throw away.

Another aspect of this of course has to do with another kind of connection when it comes to the history of design. The development of architecture, and furniture-making have come up together, changing our perceptions of what is attractive over the years. This is cyclical too, or maybe more like a mobius strip that allows us to abandon, and then often revisit, some of the same kinds of design ideas across the decades.

To speak to this, here’s an infographic that traces the history of design from the mid-1800s to the 2010s, with some points of interest highlighted along the way.

Take a look!

To view the graphic in greater detail, click on it. This will open it in a new window. Then, click it again to enlarge it.

One big chunk of history that’s missing from this graphic is the years after the early 60s through to the 2000s. What trends in these years can you personally trace as being important to modern design and architecture today?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section of this post!

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.