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The Emergence of Design as Ideology

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The Emergence of Design as Ideology

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With the arrival of the design academies, it was only a matter of time before the increasingly systematised nature of design knowledge should be turned to ideological ends. The Reformation proved the catalyst for this emergence. The Church, losing vast numbers of its congregation (and therefore its revenue) to the Protesters and also beginning to suffer from the massive inflation brought about by the enormous increase in capital from colonial American gold, turned its attention to the ways in which design itself could be employed to reverse its losses. The  vanguard troops in this spiritual battle were the Jesuit order, founded by St Ignatius Loyola. Jesuit churches began to appear throughout Europe. These began to embody the new design features designed to contrast with the secularism and austerity of the Reform churches - the use of gold leaf (from the Americas) to increase the sensuousness of the forms, the introduction of hidden light sources to add a sense of mystery, the use of free-standing and extreme bas relief sculptures to develop the audience,  incense, stained glass etc. All were used with the explicit purpose of heightening the sensual and spiritual experience of church-going. It worked. The congregation came back!

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