The Contemporary Context

  • Antoinette LaFargeEmail author


This chapter assesses Progressive Era designer and social activist Louise Brigham as a progenitor of several strands of contemporary design, including sustainable and recycled-materials design, do-it-yourself design, modular and multifunctional design for apartments, and RTA and kit furniture design. Following an overview of how these areas of design developed over the last hundred years in Europe and the United States, the chapter takes up two examples of recent design projects to interrogate the ways in which contemporary design both reflects and diverges from Brigham’s aesthetic and ethos. Finally, the chapter argues for Brigham as an exemplar of a form of “alternative modernity” that was radical for the unique ways that she took modernist ideas and refracted them through her own version of Progressive Era values.


Louise Brigham Box furniture Sustainable design Do-it-yourself design Green design Modular furniture Multifunctional furniture 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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