The twentieth century is the first century of self-conscious, total design at every level of our living and environment. Care and vision in application of design have come to be demanded in every aspect of modern life - from our kitchens and bathrooms, to our factories and workshops, from our clothes and domestic objects, to the packaging of pocket calculators or the structuring of plastic dining chairs.
Although the word has been used since at least the fifteenth century, when Italian writers spoke of "disegno" in describing the quality of line possessed by an image or artifact, in all essentials "design" is an industrial or post-industrial concept. With the introduction of mass-production, the people who invented ideas for objects became separated from the people who made them who, again, were separated from the people who sold them. The industrial revolution also created the concept of the market. Personal needs, or the whims of a patron, were replaced by a more abstract demand: the tastes of a large, amorphous body of consumers.
The modern designer came into being as an intermediary between industry and the consumer. His role was to adapt the products of industry to the mass market, to make them more useful and durable, perhaps, but to make them more appealing and commercially successful, certainly. Commercial success is the touchstone of achievement in design, although designers in different cultures have often taken different views as to how the achievement is measured or the success validated.
On the other hand, modern design is a carrier of social changes. Such point of view most precisely corresponds to features of a developing social and economic, political, cultural situation in the societies possessing a high level of development of social structures and technics. The increasing variety of phenomena of a modern industrial and...