Mass production and mass consumption introduced with Industrial Revolution (1750 – 1900)
Today’s modern concept of design is based on mass consumption and production. A lot of thought is given to the reproduction of a product rather than the design or function on its own.
Before the Industrial Revolution there was a division in labor, craftsmen (tailors, potters, carpenters etc) were organised into guilds of which there was a rigid hierarchy: masters, Journeymen and Apprentices. Apprentices had to pay the masters a premium rate for lodging and tuition.
In England, the process to Industrialisation was the effect of combination of mechanical, social and historical development.
James Watt pioneered advance of existing machinery with the invention of the steam engine. His partner Matthew Boulton used the invention to produce metal goods, and this led to the trains which meant travel / distribution was easier and things like daily newspapers were made possible as travel time between places was shortened.
In 19th Century, the advances to printing technology meant there was rapid production of printed media, books, magazines, packaging and advertising. This process was sped up in 1812 by the steam / iron press. At this time, layout, illustration and design of prints was not decided by Graphic Designers or Illustrators, but by printers and as a result the finished product was often messy and a combination of different layouts and typefaces, especially if more than one printer was involved in the making of the print.
William Morris (1834 – 1896) was a commited socialist and criticised the industrialised production as he believed it to be of poor quality and had a poor impact on working conditions. He is quoted as saying:
“Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.”
At this time there was a lot of focus on how ornamental objects were and the more extravagant, the more they were considered to be worth. As such, the approach to creating new objects was to reuse existing designed models and apply ornamental design to them. Morris, relating to this said:
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
In the 1930’s, General Motors began creating design diversity, breaking free of the old habits. They did this by basing new designs on an existing component of an old one, for example, keeping the same chassis on cars but altering their main body design.
(I do not own the image, it was found here: http://industrialrevolution.org.uk/)