Introduction to part 1

In the course of the eighteenth century, parallel revolutions in methods of production and patterns of consumption profoundly affected the history of manufactured products in Europe and in North America. Amid the consolidation of the monarchy in France, Louis XIV gave visual expression to his political authority and majesty through artistic patronage on a grand scale, overseeing the administration of modern facilities for the production of the decorative arts. In Great Britain, as an elastic growth in consumer demand stretched across geographic and social boundaries in the second half of the century, a generation of entrepreneurial manufacturers and merchants introduced changes in the organization of labor and the technology of production that recognized the roles of design and marketing in an expanding economy. New materials and processes took shape, greater productivity was achieved, and a confidence in the attainment of middle-class material comfort emerged, linked to the desire for social mobility and individual fulfillment. This dynamic, interdependent relation between production and consumption, involving new technologies, marketing, communications, and competitive commercial practices, provides the foundation for the study of modern design.

Charper 1 Royal Demand and the Control of Production

State-owned Manufactories

During tlie age of absolutism in the later seventeenth century, monarchs often invested directly in the large-scale production of luxury goods as a visible expression of royal hegemony- In addition to commissioning furnishings from independent craft workshops (see page 23), royal patrons also sponsored the construction and oversaw the management of large facilities for the manufacture of goods under centralized control. Design was an integral element in creating distinctive, “branded products that conirnuiiicated the aura of majesty and prestige associated with monarchical power. Manufactories also associated monarchs with higher levels of productivity that characterized a civilized nation. In France, for instance, the growing demand for luxury goods and furnishings at the court of Louis XIV (1638-1715) stimulated the establishment of the state-owned manufactory just south of Paris at Gobelins in 1662, eventually employing 250 workers in the production of tapestries and other furnishings. In one of a series of 14 tapestries (1662—1678) designed by the court painter Charles Le Brun (1619-1690),who served as “director” of