Adolph Loos

Ornament is wasted manpower and therefore wasted health. It has always been like this. But today it also means wasted material, and both mean wasted capital.

As ornament is no longer organically related to our culture, it is also no longer the expression of our culture.  The ornament that is produced today bears no relation to us, or to any other human or the world at large.  It has no potential for development. What happened to Otto Eckmann’s ornaments, and those of Van de Velde?  The artist always stood at the center of humanity, full of power and health.  The modern producer of ornament is, however, left behind or a pathological phenomenon.  He disowns his own products after only three years.  Cultivated people find them instantaneously intolerable, others become conscious of their intolerability after many years.  Where are Otto Eckmann’s ornament’s today? Where will Olbrich’s work be, ten years from now?  Modern ornament has no past and no future.  Uncultivated people, to whom the significance of our time is a sealed book, welcome it with joy and disown it after a short while.

Today mankind is healthier than ever before; only a few are ill.  These few, however, tyrannize (tyrannise) the worker, who is so healthy that he is incapable of inventing ornament which they have designed, in the most diverse materials.


Ornament and Crime, 1908
by Adolph Loos