The term international style was first used in 1932 to describe architects associated with the modern movement whose designs shared similar visual qualities – being mostly rectilinear, undecorated, asymmetrical and white.
In 1932 the Museum of Modern Art in New York held the first architectural exhibition featuring architects associated with the modern movement. International style was the term coined by historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock and architect Philip Johnson for the catalogue.
Most of the architects defined by international style were European with a considerable German brigade emerging from the Bauhaus, namely Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Ernst May, Erich Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun. Other Europeans included France’s Le Corbusier, Italy’s Luigi Figini and Finland’s Alvar Aalto.
After the Second World War the ‘typical’ look that defined international style buildings was modified as a matter of economy in dealing with post-war reconstruction and later, with the introduction of industrial steel and glass.
International style is seen as single-handedly transforming the skylines of every major city in the world with its simple cubic forms.