Multum in Parvo: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’. Modernism, space-saving bedroom furniture and the compactom wardrobe

2014-06-18T13:59:31Z (GMT) by Clive Edwards
Particular modernist issues around time and space-saving and organisation influenced wardrobe design. These ideas, initially developed for industry and the office, eventually reached the domestic in the kitchen and bedroom. Using the concepts of design evolution and redesign, the article considers how, during the early twentieth century, the planned wardrobe space gradually developed into a defined storage system for both male and female garments and accessories. Following a brief consideration of modernism, space and storage, and the evolutionary development of the wardrobe as a space-saving and organising space, this article examines the Compactom wardrobe range, to demonstrate how a piece of furniture reflects the contexts of the parts of society that used it. Designed for both men and women, it seemed to address a number of issues, including concerns about efficiency, loss of domestic staff, clothes maintenance and middle-class identity. Using a range of contemporary influences from time and motion studies to travel goods, the case study of the Compactom wardrobe between 1920 and the 1950s demonstrates how designers integrated ideas of methodical and rational use of space into a range of wardrobes to offer the supposed benefits of a tidy and orderly life in a period of rapid change.