What's the Design Theme and Philosophy of Frank Gehry?

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Although Frank Gehry does not personally associate with the movement, critics primarily consider his design philosophy to be deconstructivism, an approach characterized by fragmentation and distortions of traditional structure, informed by his belief that all artists should be true to themselves. Gehry’s work is recognizable through his use of asymmetry, exaggerated proportions and unconventional materials. His designs have influence throughout architecture, interior design, art and fashion.

Philosophically, deconstructivism comes as a critical response to modernism, in which the form of a building is expected to follow strictly from its function. Modernist buildings, epitomized by rectangular steel and glass skyscrapers that defined major cities during the 20th century, prize the elimination of unnecessary detail and adherence to rigid geometric norms. Modernist architecture reflects contemporary philosophies regarding social harmony and machine-like organization. Deconstructivism is thus called as it attempts to destabilize modernist thinking by breaking up design into highly stylized, individual parts.

The Guggenheim Museum in Balboa, Spain, Gehry’s most iconic work, features an exterior of titanium, glass and limestone that is both rectangular and traditional and also dramatically curved and folded. The frame houses both regular and irregular gallery shapes within. The blend of classic and distorted figures in Gehry's work fragments buildings into elements visually at odds with one another and with their respective environments. Gehry intends this elaborate approach to design to greatly imprint his buildings in local culture.