Prof. Amal Shah, Faculty of Design, CEPT University
HISTORY OF DESIGN
A J OU RNEY INTO T H E H ISTORY OF A RC H IT EC T U RE A ND INT ERIOR D ES IG N
HISTORY OF DESIGN
• Design history is the study of objects of
design in their historical and stylistic
• With a broad definition, the contexts of
design history include the social, the
cultural, the economic, the political, the
technical and the aesthetic. Design
history has as its objects of study all
designed objects including those of
• Architecture & Arts
• Fashion & crafts
• Interior spaces & textiles
• graphic design
• industrial design
• product design
According to Vitrtivius, man in his primitive savage state began
to imitate the nests of birds and the lairs of beasts,
commencing with arbours of twigs covered with mud, then
huts formed of branches of trees and covered with turf.
Architecture may be said to include every building or structure
raised by human hands, and is here denned as construction
with an artistic motive : the more the latter is developed, the
greater being the value of the result.
As soon as man rose above the state of rude nature, he
naturally began to build more substantial habitations for
himself, and some form of temple for his god. Such early forms
are given under the heading of Prehistoric Architecture.
MINOAN AND MYCENAEAN CULTURES
Minoan and Mycenaean communities
developed on small islands in the Aegean
Sea, on the larger island of Crete, and on
the mainland of Greece beginning around
The term Minoan, derived from the name
of the legendary king Minos, is used to
refer to the society, presumed to have
come from Asia Minor (now Turkey), that
built up a scattering of settlements on
Crete—some twenty towns or small cities,
each with its own palace, and a population
estimated at about 80,000 supported by
agriculture and fishing.
Some contact with the contemporary
society of Egypt is assumed, although
there is no clear evidence of its influence.
The Minoan civilization flourished in the middle bronze age on
the Mediterranean island of Crete from ca. 2000 BCE until ca.
1500 BCE and, with their unique art and architecture, the
Minoans made a significant contribution to the development of
western European civilization as it is known today.
The palace contained residences, kitchens, storage rooms, bathrooms, ceremonial
rooms, workshops, and sanctuaries. There were sophisticated infrastructural
installations, ventilation systems, and groundwater conduits.
THE TERM MYCENAEAN IS USED TO
IDENTIFY THE RUINED PALACES AT
MYCENAE AND TIRYNS ON THE GREEK
MAINLAND, WHICH DATE TO THE LATE
BRONZE AGE (1600–1250 B.C.E.).
THESE WERE PLACED ON HIGH GROUND
AND PLANNED WITH FORTIFICATION
WALLS FOR DEFENSE. GIANT ROUGH- CUT
STONES ARE LAID UP WITHOUT MORTAR
TO FORM COMPLEX GALLERIES AND
CHAMBERS, TOPPED IN PLACES WITH
STONES TILTED INWARD, WHICH MEET TO
FORM A STONE ROOFING.
ENOUGH STONEWORK SURVIVES FOR
PLANS TO BE RECONSTRUCTED; THEY
EXHIBIT THE SAME COMPLEX AND
LABYRINTHINE PLANNING ENCOUNTERED
IN THE CRETAN PALACES.
Reconstruction drawing Of the megaron of the Palace at Mycenae, Greece, C. 1500–1300 B.C.E.
The megaron was a large rectangular or square room, with
a central hearth below a raised roof with an opening
through which the smoke could escape. The entrance was
from a porch with two columns, which, like the interior
columns, tapered from a larger capital to a smaller base.
Although the style of roof is unknown, the artist’s impression
shows that it may have been decorated with complex,
abstract, painted patterns.
Just to its right is a large
circular burial tholos, the so-called
Treasury of Atreus, which
archaeologists found almost intact; it
has six chambered tombs containing
gold, silver, and bronze burial
Entrance to this circle was restricted to
the elite. Unlike the Egyptian pharaohs,
were placed in pyramids, and later in
secret caves, the Mycenaean dead were
displayed within the city at a place
and narrative were most likely to
Later Greeks would call the gathering
of people in commemorating places a
choros. Homer would emerge, long
after the Mycenaean Age had waned,
recounting the tales of Mycenaean
heroes, among them Agamemnon.
The Greeks call the country
Hellas or Ellada (Greek: Ελλάς,
Ελλάδα) and its official name is
Hellenic Republic. In English,
however, the country is usually
called Greece, which comes
from Latin Graecia (as used by
the Romans) and literally means
'the land of the Greeks'.
History of Hellenism, coined
the term Hellenistic to refer to
and define the period when
Greek culture spread in the
non-Greek world after
The Greek alphabet is the writing system first appeared in the
archaeological record during the 8th century BCE.
This was not the first writing system that was used to write
Greek: several centuries before the Greek alphabets was
invented, the linear b script was the writing system used to
write Greek during Mycenaean times. the linear b script was
lost around c.1100 BCE and with it, all knowledge of writing
vanished from Greece until the time when the Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet was born when the Greeks adapted the
Phoenician writing system.
The Phoenician language belonged to the Semitic branch of the
Afro-asiatic language family, and it was closely related to
Canaanite and Hebrew.
LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE
In the earliest versions of the alphabet, the Greeks complied
with the Phoenician practice of writing from right to left and
the letters had a left-facing orientation.
This was followed by a period of bidirectional writing, which
means that the direction of the writing was in one direction
on one line but in the opposite direction on the next, a
practice known as boustrophedon.
In boustrophedon inscriptions, non-symmetrical letters
changed their orientation in accordance to the direction of
the line that they were part of.
During the 5th century BCE, however, the direction of Greek
writing was standardized as left to right, and all the letters
adopted a fixed right-facing orientation.
Example of an Ancient Greek boustrophedon
inscription. The arrows indicate the direction
of the writing for each line. Non-symmetrical
letters change their orientation with the
alternate directions of the lines.
The government in the ancient Greek
world, across different city-states and
over many centuries, kept changing
their political power from being ruled
by a king, which is called a monarchy.
Being ruled by a group of people, called
oligarchy. Finally, being ruled by many,
which is called a democracy. There was
also the time between 600 B.C. and 500
B.C where some Greek city-states
where ruled by tyrants. Which is when
as man steps up to rule over others, but
does not have a legal reason to rule.
Democracy is regarded as the Greeks'
greatest contribution to civilization,
which took birth in Athens in 460 BCE.
There are two specifically political
texts with the same title, The
Constitution of the Athenians, one
written by Aristotle or one of his pupils
and the other attributed (by some)
Based upon observations, some ancient Greeks
realized that it was possible to find regularities
and patterns hidden in nature and that those
regularities were the key to unlocking the
secrets of the universe. It became evident that
even nature had to obey certain rules and by
knowing those rules one could predict the
behaviour of nature.
Observation was eventually undervalued by the
Greeks in favour of the deductive process,
where knowledge is built by means of pure
thought. This method is key in mathematics and
the Greeks put such an emphasis on it that they
falsely believed that deduction was the way to
obtain the highest knowledge.
A fragment of the second book of the Elements in Greek
Thales of Miletus 624 BC – 546 BC
At about 600 BCE first developed the idea that the
world can be explained without resorting to
Empedocles 490 BC – 430 BC
He taught an early form of evolution and survival of
Greek philosophers approached the big
questions of life sometimes in a genuine
scientific way, sometimes in mystic ways,
but always in an imaginative fashion.
Greek Philosophy as an independent
cultural genre began around 600 BCE,
and its insights still persist to our times.
Aristotle 624 BC – 546 BC
He was the first philosopher who
developed a systematic study of logic
Although he repeatedly admitted the
importance of induction, he prioritized
the use of deduction to build knowledge.
Plato 428 BC – 348 BC
Plato's dialogues have been used to teach
a range of subjects, including philosophy,
logic, ethics, rhetoric, religion and
mathematics. His lasting themes include
Platonic love, His theory of forms
launched a unique perspective on
abstract objects, and led to a school of
thought called Platonism.
Socrates 470 BC – 399 BC
He is known for his Dialogues and for
founding his Academy north
of Athens, traditionally considered the
first university in the western world.
1. Zeus – Chief of the gods and
2. Hera – Wife of Zeus and the
goddess of marriage
3. Apollo – The son of Zeus .
The god who punishes, heals
and helps. Also the god of
song and music, of the sun
and founder of cities.
4. Hestia – Sacred fire
5. Heracles – Strength and
6. Athena – Wisdom, power,
peace and prosperity
7. Poseidon – Sea
8. Demeter – Earth and
9. Dionysus – Wine, feasting
10. Artemis – Hunting
11. Aphrodite – Beauty
12. Nike - Victory
13. Hermes – Messenger of the
Greek mythology, as in other ancient cultures, was used
as a means to explain the environment in which
humankind lived, the natural phenomena they
witnessed and the passing of time through the days,
months, and seasons.
Myths were also intricately connected to religion in
the Greek world and explained the origin and lives of the
gods, where humanity had come from and where it was
going after death, and gave advice on the best way to
lead a happy life.
Finally, myths were used to re-tell historical events so
that people could maintain contact with their ancestors,
the wars they fought, and the places they explored.
Greek Pottery from c. 1000
to c. 400 BCE provides not
only some of the most
distinctive vase shapes
from antiquity but also
some of the oldest and
representations of the
cultural beliefs and
practices of the ancient
Further, pottery, with its
durability (even when
broken) and lack of appeal
to treasure hunters, is one
of the great archaeological
survivors and is, therefore,
an important tool for
historians in determining
the chronology of
A black-figure Calyx-Krater from Attica, c.
530 BCE. The scene of the Trojan War.
Pitcher in Mycenaean geometric
style dates from the late 8th to
early 7th century BCE
A detail of a 7th century BCE pot
displaying the common design
motifs of the Geometric style
of Greek pottery from Santorini.
Greek sculpture from 800 to 300 BCE took early
inspiration from Egyptian and Near Eastern
monumental art, and over centuries evolved into a
uniquely Greek vision of the art form. Greek artists
would reach a peak of artistic excellence which
captured the human form in a way never before seen
and which was much copied. Greek sculptors were
particularly concerned with proportion, poise, and the
idealised perfection of the human body, and their
figures in stone and bronze.
Bronze sculpture of an athlete Stone sculpture from Parthenon
The Greeks used many different types of
materials in their sculptures including stone,
marble and limestone as these were
abundant in Greece. Other materials such as
clay were also used but due to their brittle
nature very few have survived. Greek
sculptures are very important as the vast
majority of them tell us a story about Gods,
Heroes, Events, Mythical Creatures and Greek
culture in general. Many of the statues that
have survived are actually of Roman origin.
The architecture of Ancient Greece is the
architecture produced by the Greek-
speaking people (Hellenic people) whose
culture flourished on the Greek mainland
and Peloponnesus, the Aegean Islands,
and in colonies in Asia Minor and Italy for
a period from about 900 BC until the 1st
century AD, with the earliest remaining
architectural works dating from around
Ancient Greek architecture is best known
from its temples, many of which are found
throughout the region, mostly as ruins but
many substantially intact. The second
important type of building that survives
all over the Hellenic world is the open-air
theatre, with the earliest dating from
around 350 BC.
Other architectural forms that are still in
evidence are the processional gateway,
the public square (agora) surrounded by
storied colonnade, the town council
building, the public monument, the
mausoleum and the stadium.
The Geography, Climate, and Light
The mainland and islands of Greece are rocky, with deeply
indented coastline, and rugged mountain ranges with few
substantial forests. The most freely available building
material is stone. Limestone and marble were readily
available and easily worked. This finely grained material
was a major contributing factor to precision of detail, both
architectural and sculptural, that adorned Ancient Greek
architecture. Deposits of high quality potter's clay were
found throughout Greece and the Islands, with major
deposits near Athens. It was used not only for pottery
vessels, but also roof tiles and architectural decoration.
The climate of Greece is maritime, with both the coldness
of winter and the heat of summer tempered by sea
breezes. This led to a lifestyle where many activities took
place outdoors. Hence temples were placed on hilltops,
their exteriors designed as a visual focus of gatherings and
processions, while theatres were often an enhancement of
a naturally occurring sloping site where people could sit,
rather than a containing structure. Colonnades encircling
buildings, or surrounding courtyards provided shelter
from the sun and from sudden winter storms.
The light of Greece may be another important factor in the
development of the particular character of Ancient Greek
architecture. The light is often extremely bright, with both
the sky and the sea vividly blue. In this characteristic
environment, the Ancient Greek architects constructed
buildings that were marked by precision of detail. The
gleaming marble surfaces were smooth, curved, fluted, or
ornately sculpted to reflect the sun, cast graded shadows
and change in colour with the ever-changing light of day.
The Greek temple developed from the Aegean
megaron, the main room of the palace—it was
thus the palace- house of a god, the only palace
this largely democratic society required. No
wooden temples have survived, but their
nature can be deduced from later stone temples.
Greek temple design changed considerably
in the middle of the 6th century BCE, as
wood was increasingly abandoned for stone.
This may have been partially due to a
desire for permanence, but it may also have
been spurred by the influence of Egyptian
architecture, with which the increasingly
came in contact.
Temple of Poseidon at Isthmia near Corinth
This temple is among the earliest known Greek temples. Its podium
measures 14 by 40 meters, with a central row of five columns of
stone, but the columns and entablature were of oak; the roof was low
pitched and covered in fired terra-cotta tiles—a Greek invention.
This temple represents an important break in the development of
temple design. Whereas the stones for Egyptian temples were of
irregular size, the ashlar blocks of this temple were laid in regular
courses all the way to the roofline—a standardization of masonry
Furthermore, in Egypt, a wall was typically composed of two separate
walls, the gap between them filled with rubble. Here the wall is a
single vertical element.
The most basic element of the temple was the colonnade. Though
so common today that it might seem to be a natural architectural
form, it was actually a unique innovation of the Greeks.
Called a pteron, means “wing” or “fin,”. It perhaps refers to early
awnings placed against buildings. But it also indicates that the
Greeks saw the building as a dynamic location—as something that
literally catches the wind and hears the voices of the gods. The
pteron also evoked the idea of a grove of trees, especially because
columns were originally made of wooden trunks.
The following terms
describe the type of
the naos of a Greek
• Peripteral: one row of
• Dipteral: two rows of
• Tripteral: three rows
suggesting a dipteral
colonnade, but without
the inner colonnade
The following terms refer to the number of
columns on the entrance front of a Greek
• Henostyle: one column
• Distyle: two columns
• Tristyle: three columns
• Tetrastyle: four columns
• Pentastyle: five columns
• Hexastyle: six columns
• Heptastyle: seven columns
• Octastyle: eight columns
• Enneastyle: nine columns
• Decastyle: ten columns
Greek Architecture and its Language
Greek and Roman temples are described according to the number of columns
on the entrance front, the type of colonnade, and the type of portico.
Almost all surfaces of the temple—the steps, columns, capitals, walls, even the
figures on the pediment—were painted in bright reds, blues, blacks, and
yellows. What we know about the colors used for the temples comes from both
archaeological and literary sources.
The pigments were made from minerals, soot, ground stones, vegetables, and
animal matter. The purple dye, for example, came from shellfish; the yellowish
color that was applied to columns and beams came from saffron. The colors
were applied sometimes with wax but usually on stucco.
Greek Architecture and its Language
The architecture of Ancient Greece is of a trabeated or "post and lintel" form, i.e. it
is composed of upright posts supporting horizontal lintels. Although the existent
buildings of the era are constructed in stone, it is clear that the origin of the style
lies in simple wooden structures, with vertical posts supporting beams which
carried a ridged roof. The posts and beams divided the walls into regular
compartments which could be left as openings, or filled with sun dried bricks,
lathes or straw and covered with clay daub or plaster. Alternately, the spaces might
be filled with rubble.
Greek Architecture and its Language
The ideal of proportion that was used by Ancient Greek architects in
designing temples was not a simple mathematical progression using a square
module. The math involved a more complex geometrical progression, the so-
called Golden mean. The ratio is similar to that of the growth patterns of
many spiral forms that occur in nature such as rams' horns, nautilus shells,
fern fronds, and vine tendrils and which were a source of decorative motifs
employed by Ancient Greek architects as particularly in evidence in the
volutes of capitals of the Ionic and Corinthian Orders.
Greek Architecture and its Language
The determining factor in the mathematics of any notable work of architecture
was its ultimate appearance. The architects calculated for perspective, for the
optical illusions that make edges of objects appear concave and for the fact that
columns that are viewed against the sky look different from those adjacent that
are viewed against a shadowed wall. Because of these factors, the architects
adjusted the plans so that the major lines of any significant building are rarely
straight. The most obvious adjustment is to the profile of columns, which narrow
from base to top. However, the narrowing is not regular, but gently curved so that
each columns appears to have a slight swelling in the middle.
Greek Architecture and its Language
Stylistically, Ancient Greek architecture is
divided into three “orders”:
1. the Doric Order,
2. the Ionic Order and
3. the Corinthian Order,
the names reflecting their origins. While the
three orders are most easily recognizable by
their capitals, the orders also governed the
form, proportions, details and relationships
of the columns, entablature, and the
pediment. The different orders were applied
to the whole range of buildings and
• The Doric Order developed on mainland
Greece and spread to Italy. It was firmly
established and well-defined in its
characteristics by the time of the building
of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, c. 600
• The Ionic order co-existed with the Doric,
being favoured by the Greek cites of Ionia,
in Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands. The
early Ionic temples of Asia Minor were
particularly ambitious in scale, such as the
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
• The Corinthian Order was a highly
decorative variant not developed until the
Hellenistic period and retaining many
characteristics of the Ionic. It was
popularised by the Romans.
Greek Architecture and its Language
The Doric order is recognised by its capital. Doric columns are
almost always cut with grooves, known as "fluting", which run the
length of the column and are usually 20 in number, although
sometimes fewer. The flutes meet at sharp edges. Doric columns
have no bases, until a few examples in the Hellenistic period.
The columns of an early Doric temple such as the Temple of Apollo
at Syracuse, Sicily, may have a height to base diameter ratio of only
4:1 and a column height to entablature ratio of 2:1, with relatively
crude details. A column height to diameter of 6:1 became more
usual, while the column height to entablature ratio at the Parthenon
is about 3:1. During the Hellenistic period, Doric conventions of
solidity and masculinity dropped away, with the slender and
unfluted columns reaching a height to diameter ratio of 7.5:1.
Greek Architecture and its Language
The Ionic Order is recognised by its voluted capital. It is decorated with
stylised ornament, is surmounted by a horizontal band that scrolls
under to either side, forming spirals or volutes similar to those of the
nautilus shell or ram's horn. In plan, the capital is rectangular. It's
designed to be viewed frontally but the capitals at the corners of
buildings are modified with an additional scroll so as to appear regular
on two adjoining faces. In the Hellenistic period, four-fronted Ionic
capitals became common. Like the Doric Order, the Ionic Order retains
signs of having its origins in wooden architecture.
The Ionic Order is altogether lighter in appearance than the Doric, with
the columns, including base and capital, having a 9:1 ratio with the
Greek Architecture and its Language
The Corinthian Order does not have its origin in wooden architecture. It
grew directly out of the Ionic in the mid 5th century BC, and was initially
of much the same style and proportion, but distinguished by its more
According to Vitruvius, the capital was invented by a bronze founder,
Callimarchus of Corinth, who took his inspiration from a basket of
offerings that had been placed on a grave, with a flat tile on top to
protect the goods. The basket had been placed on the root of an
acanthus plant which had grown up around it. The ratio of the column
height to diameter is generally 10:1, with the capital taking up more
than 1/10 of the height. The ratio of capital height to diameter is
generally about 1.16:1.
An acropolis (from akros or akron, "highest", "topmost",
"outermost" and polis, "city"; plural in English: acropoles,
acropoleis or acropolises)is a settlement, especially a
citadel, built upon an area of elevated ground
The most famous example is the Acropolis of Athens, which,
by reason of its historical associations and the several
famous buildings erected upon it (most notably the
Parthenon), is known without qualification as the Acropolis.
The Parthenon is a former temple on the
Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to
the goddess Athena, whom the people of
Athens considered their patron.
Construction of the temple began in 447
BC when the Athenian Empire was at the
height of its power. It was completed in
It is the most important surviving building
of Classical Greece, generally considered
the zenith of the Doric order.
Its decorative sculptures are considered
some of the high points of Greek art. The
Parthenon is regarded as an enduring
symbol of Ancient Greece, Athenian
democracy and western civilization, and
one of the world's greatest cultural
Greek furniture was typically constructed
out of wood, though it might also be made
of stone or metal, such as bronze, iron, gold
and silver. Little wood survives from
Pieces were assembled using mortise-and-
tenon joinery, held together with lashings,
pegs, metal nails, and glue. Wood was
shaped by carving, steam treatment, and
the lathe, and furniture is known to have
been decorated with ivory, tortoise shell,
glass, gold or other precious materials.
Historical evidence found in pottery, bas-
reliefs, sculpture Allow understanding of
furniture evolution and style in the culture.
Triclinium was characterized
by three KLINAI on three sides
of a low square table, those
surfaces sloped away
From the table at about 10
degrees. Diners would recline
on these surfaces in a semi-
recumbent position. Fourth
side of the table was left free,
presumably to allow service to
the table. Usually the open side
faced the entrance of the room.
Patterns and Motifs
A meander or meandros is a decorative
border constructed from a continuous line,
shaped into a repeated motif. Such a design
is also called the Greek fret or Greek key
Meanders are common decorative
elements in Greek and Roman art. In
ancient Greece they appear in many
architectural friezes, and in bands on the
pottery of ancient Greece from the
Geometric Period onwards. The design is
common to the present-day in classicizing
LEGACY AND RELEVANCE OF GREEK CIVILIZATION
• The Olympics, the massive international sports
competition that serves as one of ancient Greece’s most
visible legacies, dates from 776 BC.
• Invention of Democracy, instituted in 507 BC. And the
emergence of City-state.
• Invention of alphabets. This alphabetic legacy is made
clear through the use of the first two Greek letters, alpha
and beta, in the formation of the word “alphabet.”
• Ancient Greek theater and development of the notion of
literary forms such as tragedy, comedy and satire.
• The legacy of Architecture as an art form, rather than
merely a utilitarian science and the development of three
• The affect of the ancient Greek’s achievement in sculpture
is apparent in later artists' employment of classical
proportions. The rediscovery of Greek sculpture
throughout the 16th and 17th centuries inspired
Renaissance artists in their own depictions of the human
• The Greek love of reason and logic influenced the
development of Western knowledge in fields of Science,
medicine, mathematics, astronomy and philosophy.
• Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle were also
scientists who observed and studied the known world, the
earth, seas, and mountains here below, and the solar
system, planetary motion, and astral phenomena.
• Archimedes developed Archimedes‘ principle,
explanation of levers and invention of compound pulley.
He also invented Odometer.
• Plato invented water alarm clock.
• Aristotle gave the idea of earth being a globe. He also
classified animals and if often referred to as father of
• Hippocrates was referred as the father of western medicine
in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field of
medicine and as the founder of the Hippocratic School of
Medicine. The most famous of his supposed contributions
is the Hippocratic Oath.
Temples with their various
orders and arrangements of
columns have provided the
most tangible architectural
legacy from the Greek world,
and it is perhaps ironic that
the architecture of Greek
religious buildings has been
so widely adopted in the
modern world for such
secular buildings as court
houses and government