Mark Foster Gage Architects Mark Foster Gage's design for a skyscraper on West 57th Street in New York

Mark Foster Gage Architects Mark Foster Gage’s design for a skyscraper on West 57th Street in New York

The article I wrote recently broached a delicate subject in architecture: that of style. To call someone stylish might be OK, but to call their work such is just not done in our culture. What was once a quest for many artists or designers—a style of one’s own—is now something to be avoided at all costs, while the notion that one is working in a certain style has been, well, out of style, with a few exceptions, since the advent of the various styles of Modernism. To say that your work appears in a certain manner, in a mode developed by someone else, or in a fashion that evidences the cycles of taste, means that you have given up creativity and individuality and, what is more important, are not doing “the right thing” or “telling the truth.”

But the dirty secret is that style has not gone away.

What, then, is style? It has been many things at many times to many people, but style currently has at least four meanings in the world art and design.