At the beginning of the 20th century, the world of design began to make a significant shift. Moving away from pre-industrial methods of producing unique and hand-crafted objects, designers adopted an approach reflecting new techniques in science and engineering. The Industrial Revolution enabled designers to reconsider the ways that form, function, and materials applied to everyday objects. The emergence of new tools and the aid of machine-assembly techniques meant that designs could be mass-produced, reaching a wider audience at a lower cost.

There was a growing ethos that aesthetically pleasing, functional objects should be available to everyone, not just an elite few. Designers began to reject excessive ornamentation, instead shifting toward more simplified and geometric shapes, some of which were evocative of organic forms found in nature. Some of the most significant objects developed at this time were simple machines that addressed complex problems.

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