Electric Light


I had developed a certain desire to create a web page design thematically fitting the use of a modern or didone font. My first idea was based around the steel and glass construction of the Crystal Palace, which, sadly, hasn’t worked out the way I want it to yet, so I did something around the idea of the ‘new electric light’.

Inspirations for this include old radios and tube amps, and other oldish-looking electrical appliances.


The term ‘modern’ (Latin modernus from modo, ‘just now’) dates from the 5th century, originally distinguishing the Christian era from the Pagan era, yet the word entered general usage only in the 17th-century quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns—debating: ‘Is Modern culture superior to Classical (Græco–Roman) culture?’—a literary and artistic quarrel within the Académie française in the early 1690s.

In these usages, ‘modernity’ denoted the renunciation of the recent past, favouring a new beginning, and a re-interpretation of historical origin. The distinction between ‘modernity’ and ‘modern’ did not arise until the 19th century.

Early Modernism

There are multiple lenses through which the evolution of Modern architecture may be viewed:

Some historians see it as a social matter, closely tied to the project of Modernity and thus the Enlightenment. Modern architecture developed, in their opinion, as a result of social and political revolutions.

Others see Modern architecture as primarily driven by technological and engineering developments.

Still other historians regard Modernism as a matter of taste, a reaction against eclecticism and the lavish stylistic excesses of Victorian and Edwardian architecture.

With the Industrial Revolution, the availability of newly-available building materials such as iron, steel, and sheet glass drove the invention of new building techniques. In 1796, Shrewsbury mill owner Charles Bage first used his ‘fireproof’ design, which relied on cast iron and brick with flag stone floors. Such construction greatly strengthened the structure of mills, which enabled them to accommodate much bigger machines.

Due to poor knowledge of iron’s properties as a construction material, a number of early mills collapsed. It was not until the early 1830s that Eaton Hodgkinson introduced the section beam, leading to widespread use of iron construction. This kind of austere industrial architecture utterly transformed the landscape of northern Britain, leading to the description of places like Manchester and parts of West Yorkshire as ‘Dark satanic mills’.

The Crystal Palace by Joseph Paxton at the Great Exhibition of 1851 was an early example of iron and glass construction, followed in 1864 by the first glass and metal curtain wall. A further development was that of the steel-framed skyscraper in Chicago around 1890 by William Le Baron Jenney and Louis Sullivan.