Modern architecture followed a similar design with most places. This was sleek, clean, and identical designs that fit the uniform look to look cohesive (Sturken & Cartwright, 338). It focused on functionalism and minimalist ideals about design, shying away from any ornamentation, diversity, and the importance of design for designs sake (Sturken & Cartwright, 339). Postmodernism followed the theme of rejecting any modernist design and thought and embracing the diverse. Modernism rejected any symbolism, metaphor, or ornamentation to add to design because it did not fit into the functionalist outlook and therefore left everything looking uniform and generalized (Sturken & Cartwright, 340).
Postmodern architecture used pastiche to create many of its designs. Pastiche is the imitation of another work incorporated into the new, which is very similar to the concepts of postmodernism. An architectural design can incorporate designs form things as simple as a wardrobe that would offer some difference in the uniformity of the designs around it. The slight difference has not actual function, but it allows the individual who views it to gain some type of visual pleasure from it.
The postmodern design, like the postmodern theory, does not rely of history and progress. Rather, the postmodern design is mixed throughout time and space, not giving any type of pattern of development to the viewer. Modern design was linear and was always looking towards progress for the next or better design to follow (Sturken & Cartwright, 340). Postmodernism looks at mixing historical styles with one another, not keeping them separate, but incorporating the unique things about each one and making a design that enforces uniqueness.
An example of this postmodern design and architecture is the city of Las Vegas. The architecture within the area of this town if full of metaphorical, flashy, symbolic, and just fun designs. The buildings do not conform to one another, they are each different and unique in their own way. No two buildings are the same and provide a fun atmosphere to those within it. The functionality of each building is low, but the enjoyment and viewing pleasure of each is high. It also brings in more population because it becomes more interesting to be apart of.
The postmodern built environment shies away from the sleek and modern and embraces the artistic and different. Because of this new mindset, designers have begun to employ artist to offer a different spin on the building itself (Kay, 358). More and more collaborations have begun between artists and architects to create buildings and build environments that are more then just a place to go, but a place to be visually stimulating (Kay, 358). An example of this is the Magic Gardens in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This building uses mosaic art to attract people from all over to take in the uncoordinated and mismatched art that houses the art store within it.
A study done on postmodern design of the built environment in transition showed some input on social status. In the Northwest and Northeast regions, postmodern changes to a single-family home became a way of showing wealth and status (Aliyu). Postmodernism also plays a role in the preservation of cultural sustainability and how a single-family home can incorporate ideals from their cultural but still have postmodern aspects to the home (Aliyu). This ability to accommodate cultural aspect into the aspects of postmodern designs express the many aspects that postmodern architecture can be demonstrated.