Jazzing it Up
Let the bold lines of 1930s design add glamour to your 21st century eclectic home
The world of interior design had been ticking along very nicely – the occasional peak causing a few ripples of excitement, the occasional trough where it got stuck in a stylistic rut - but then Art Deco burst onto the scene and turned the accepted status quo completely topsy-turvy.
Sandwiched between two bleak periods, the aftermath of WWI and the grey Depression years, Art Deco was an explosion of life, warmth and colour that refused to be contained. Bold and controversial, this was a style that would muscle its way to the centre of the design stage, and become an effervescent inspiration for countless artists and designers ever since.
But we can’t all live in a superb example of International Modernism (such as the glamorous house featured in our last issue); but it is possible to bring just a little of the style and elegance of the Art Deco period into our homes today. Whilst fashions in home décor come and go, Art Deco seems to retain a certain level of popularity. There are of course, the purists out there who have been living the Deco dream for years – filling their homes from top to bottom with only the very best items. However, it seems once again Art Deco is having a resurgence in our homes – its simple clean lines edging their way into our eclectic interiors and bringing with it a little bit of glamour!
So, whether you’re looking to incorporate Art Deco from floor to ceiling, or just want to add glamour to your Mid-century mix, there are so many ways in which you can encompass this wonderful style.
If Clarice Cliff’s name is synonymous with ceramics of the period, then René Lalique is the undisputed master of glass. Here we see some stunning early 20th century clear and opalescent examples, both signed R. Lalique. Also look out for items by famous glass producers such as Schneider and Swedish makers Orrefors – which both introduced their own Modernist style of the period.
BRING IN THE SUN
Every home has one, or two, so why not make a grand gesture with a stunning 30s mirror? They certainly go a long way towards creating an individual look and can be real statement pieces. They come in all manner of shapes, sizes and price tags, from sunbursts and starbursts to zig-zag black and chrome, or with a simple bevelled edge.
ADD SOME GLAMOUR TO YOUR ECLECTIC MIX
A French mahogany banquette faces a pair of 1930s Art Deco club chairs, centred by an Italian 1940s glazed sideboard, below a monumental wool tapestry from 1961 by M. Cartier-Bordes. This is flanked by a pair of brass and cognac brown leather floor lamps, in the manner of Jacques Adnet, circa 1950. On each side of the room are two 19th century ebonised ripple frame Flemish mirrors, above French 1970s brass console tables, hosting various 1950s and 1940s lamps and objects. The pair of pedestals on each side of the sideboard are made of Macassar ebony, circa 1930 from Paris, supporting 20th Century extra large terracotta urns from Catalonia, in front of two Italian oval brass mirrors from the 1950s. From the ceiling hangs a 1950s brass 12-armed chandelier. The 1970s brass two-tiered coffee table at the centre is adorned with a most unusual 1950s red enamel lantern-lamp, a Mathieu Matégot tray, a rare Japanese Art Deco Taisho period lacquer box and 1930s solid palm wood bowl, among other objects.
WOODS TO SUIT YOUR TASTE
Serious furniture collectors look at the luxury end of market, with high-end items attributed to known designers, such as Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, and spectacularly well-constructed pieces using the rarest woods such as ebony or Brazilian rosewood – although this is a very pricey game! However, you can emulate the days of high glamour without it costing a fortune, for example with a highly lacquered Macassar Ebony sideboard with the most striking grain pattern. Then there is the clean Modernist look of chrome tubular steel and black lacquered wood – as seen perfected in the work of Marcel Breuer.
INVEST IN ACCESSORIES
If you’d rather opt for accessorising from the period, there is no end of options to choose from. A sculpture, especially one of a scantily clad lady, will enhance the overall glamour of any room, and are a worthy investment, whether it takes centre stage on your sideboard, or is added to your curious cabinet of collector’s items – it’s sure to impress.
STREAMLINE YOUR CERAMICS
Can there be anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of Clarice Cliff? The best-known name in Art Deco ceramics, famous for her bright, bold patterns such as Bizarre, Crocus, Biarritz and Fantasque. However, if you prefer your palette a little more muted – Keith Murray (appointed by Wedgwood in 1932) developed semi-matt glazes which he applied to his modernist shapes – streamlined, lathe-cut vases and bowls in white, green, blue and black basalt.
The colours associated with Art Deco were often bold, although sometimes subtle: black, silver, chrome, cream, beige, oyster and, of course, the colour of the age, eau de Nil – a pale greenish colour (not too dissimilar to the Farrow & Ball, ‘Ball Green’). Floors were covered in a variety of materials from, in the most expensive of homes, oak parquet, (and in the less-expensive, varnished pine floorboards) to linoleum, scattered with boldly patterned rugs.
Josef Hoffmann and Backhausen Gmbh have been producing fabrics since the 1900s. Their Art Deco designs have really stood the test of time and look amazing upholstered on a sofa or chairs, or as heavy curtains – and the real beauty is their original patterns can still be bought today.
GO GLAM WITH LIGHTING
Electric lighting was no longer merely functional in the 30s, and unlikely partnerships emerged between a variety of materials, such as brass and Bakelite, glass and iron, and glass and chrome. Whether a wall, floor or table lamp, etched glass and colourful patterned shades mean you can easily add Art Deco’s bold designs in small ways. If you have a few thousand to spare on a real showstopper, there are spectacular glasswork chandeliers out there by designers such as Henri Petitot, with tiers of opalescent icicles accented with shiny brass fish! If that’s a little too OTT for your two-bed Victorian semi, then how about an awesome American Machine Age Sight Light for £500; or a truly Deco looking table lamp featuring a wonderful glass shade in a mint green colour for £395?
Give your home that finishing touch with a lithographic poster (especially of travel featuring exotic places, and fashion plates from Vogue), cocktail shakers, tortoiseshell boxes, fountain pens, dressing table sets and telephones... the list is endless!
Anyone really wanting to go to town and create the classic 30s mood of Art Deco, complete with Bakelite ice bucket, should contact the specialist dealers featured within this issue. They can supply everything from a jazzy shaped cocktail cabinet to a sunburst clock – just ask!
Art Deco Architecture – The Interwar Period by Mike Hope, examines the sources and origins of Art Deco from before the First World War. He offers an in-depth exploration of the inspirations and political backdrop behind this popular style, lavishly illustrated with images taken especially for the book.
· ISBN: 9781785005992
· RRP: £27.50
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