Art Deco and Moderne

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2017


In the 1950s interior decoration and many building were the 'left overs' of the last of the truly great artistic style, Art Deco.
It was only when the 1960s had ensured that most surviving examples of Art Deco, in the home - and in examples of architecture - had been vandalised or destroyed, that 'Deco', in the 80s came back into fashion.
Art Deco is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s, and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era.
The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and jewelry, as well as the visual arts such as painting, graphic arts and film.
The term "art deco" was first used widely in 1966, after an exhibition in Paris, 'Les Années 25' sub-titled Art Deco, celebrating the 1925 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes' that was the culmination of style moderne in Paris. At its best, Art Deco represented elegance, glamour, functionality and modernity. Before the 60s the style was usually referred to as 'Art Moderne'.
Art Deco's linear symmetry was a distinct departure from the flowing asymmetrical organic curves of its predecessor style Art Nouveau; it embraced influences from many different styles of the early 20th century, including Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism and Futurism, and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms.
Although many design movements have political or philosophical beginnings or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative.
Architectural examples of Art Deco survive in many different locations worldwide, in countries as diverse as China (Shanghai), the UK, Latvia, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Argentina, Poland, Austria, Germany, Russia, Romania, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Brazil, Colombia and the United States. In New York, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center are among the largest and best-known examples of the style.


Some historians trace Deco's roots to the Universal Exposition of 1900.
After this show a group of artists established an informal collective known as 'La Société des artistes décorateurs' (Society of Decorator Artists) to promote French crafts.
Among them were Hector Guimard, Eugène Grasset, Raoul Lachenal, Paul Bellot, Maurice Dufrêne, and Emile Decoeur.
These artists are said to have influenced many of the principles of Art Deco.
The Art Deco era is often anecdotally dated from 1925 when the 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes' was organized to showcase new ideas in applied arts., although the style had been in full force in France for several years before that date.
Deco was heavily influenced by aspects of pre-modern art, observable at the Musée du Louvre.
There was a popular interest in archaeology, due to excavations at Pompeii, Troy, and, of course, the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Artists and designers integrated motifs from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Asia with Machine Age elements.
Deco was also influenced to some extent by the formal elements found in some examples of Cubism, Constructivism, Functionalism, Modernism, and Futurism.
In 1905, before the onset of Cubism, Eugène Grasset wrote and published 'Méthode de Composition Ornementale, Éléments Rectilignes' within which he systematically explored the decorative and ornamental aspects of geometric elements, forms, motifs and their variations, in contrast with, and as a departure from, the undulating Art Nouveau style of Hector Guimard, so popular in Paris a few years earlier.
Grasset stresses the principle that various simple geometric shapes like triangles and squares are the basis of all compositional arrangements.
Leading up to 1910 and culminating in 1912, the French designers André Mare and Louis Sue turned towards the quasi-mystical 'Golden Ratio' (Golden Section), in accord with Pythagorean and Platonic traditions, giving their works a Classical sensibility.
Between 1910 and 1913, Paris saw the construction of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 15 avenue Montaigne, another sign of the radical aesthetic change experienced by the Parisian milieu of the time.
The rigorous composition of its façade  designed by Auguste Perret, is a major example of early Art Deco.
The building includes an exterior bas relief by Antoine Bourdelle, a dome by Maurice Denis, and a stage curtain design by Ker-Xavier Roussel.
The artists of the Section d'Or exhibited (in 1912) works considerably more accessible to the general public than the analytical cubism of Picasso and Braque.
The Cubist vocabulary was poised to attract fashion designers, furniture and interior designers.
These revolutionary changes occurring at the outset of the 20th century are summarized in the 1912 writings of André Vera.
'Le Nouveau style', published in the journal 'L'Art décoratif' expressed the rejection of Art Nouveau forms (asymmetric, polychrome and picturesque), and called for 'simplicité volontaire, symétrie manifeste, l'ordre et l'harmonie'; themes that would eventually become ubiquitous within the context of Art Deco.


'Deco' emphasizes geometric forms: spheres, polygons, rectangles, trapezoids, zigzags, chevrons, and sunburst motifs.
Elements are often arranged in symmetrical patterns.
Modern materials such as aluminium  stainless steel, Bakelite, chrome, and plastics are frequently used.
Stained glass, inlays, and lacquer are also common.
Colors tend to be vivid and high-contrast.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2017

This was a developed style of 'Art Deco' architecture and design that emerged in the 1930s.
Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.
As the Great Depression of the 1930s progressed, Americans saw a new aspect of Art Deco - streamlining, - a concept first conceived by industrial designers who stripped 'Art Deco' design of its ornament, in favour of the aerodynamic, pure-line concept of motion and speed developed from scientific thinking.
Cylindrical forms and long horizontal windowing also may be influenced by constructivism.
As a result an array of designers quickly ultra-modernized and streamlined the designs of everyday objects.
Manufacturers of clocks, radios, telephones, cars, furniture, and many other household appliances embraced the concept.
The style was the first to incorporate electric light into architectural structures.
In the first-class dining room of the 'SS Normandie', fitted out 1933–35, twelve tall pillars of Lalique glass, and 38 columns lit from within illuminated the room.

SS Normandie was an ocean liner built in Saint-Nazaire, France, for the French Line Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. She entered service in 1935 as the largest and fastest passenger ship afloat; she is still the most powerful steam turbo-electric-propelled passenger ship ever built. Her novel design and lavish interiors led many to consider her the greatest of ocean liners. The luxurious interiors were designed in Art Déco and Moderne style. The first-class dining hall was the largest room afloat. Passengers entered through 20-foot (6.1 m) tall doors adorned with bronze medallions by artist Raymond Subes. The room could seat 700 at 157 tables, with Normandie serving as a floating promotion for the most sophisticated French cuisine of the period. As no natural light could enter it was illuminated by 12 tall pillars of Lalique glass flanked by 38 matching columns along the walls. These, with chandeliers hung at each end of the room, earned the Normandie the nickname "Ship of Light.

Strand Palace Hotel
The Strand Palace Hotel foyer (London - 1930), was one of the first uses of internally lit architectural glass (which 'our Peter' often saw as a boy).
The 'Streamline Moderne' was both a reaction to Art Deco and a reflection of austere economic times.
Sharp angles were replaced with simple, aerodynamic curves.
Exotic woods and stone were replaced with cement and glass.
'Art Deco' and 'Streamline Moderne' were not necessarily opposites.
'Moderne' buildings with a few 'Deco' elements were not uncommon, but the prime movers behind streamline design (Raymond Loewy, Walter Dorwin Teague, Gilbert Rohde, Norman Bel Geddes) all disliked certain aspects of Art Deco, seeing such aspects as 'effete' and 'falsely modern'.

Raymond Loewy (November 5, 1893 – July 14, 1986) was an industrial designer who achieved fame for the magnitude of his design efforts across a variety of industries. He was recognized for this by Time magazine and featured on its cover of on October 31, 1949. Born in France, he spent most of his professional career in the United States. Among his designs were the Shell, Exxon, TWA and the former BP logos, the Greyhound Scenicruiser bus, Coca-Cola vending machines, the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 and S-1 locomotives, the Lucky Strike package, Coldspot refrigerators, the Studebaker Avanti and Champion, and the Air Force One livery.

Walter Dorwin Teague (December 18, 1883 - December 5, 1960) was an American industrial designer, architect, illustrator, graphic designer, writer, and entrepreneur. Regarded as a classicist and a traditionalist despite a later shift to modern tastes, Teague is recognized as a critical figure in the spread of mid-century modernism in America. He is widely known for his exhibition designs during the 1939-40 New York World's Fair, such as the Ford Building, and his iconic product and package designs, from Eastman Kodak's Bantam Special to the steel-legged Steinway piano.

Gilbert Rohde (1894–1944), whose career as a furniture and industrial designer helped to define American modernism during its first phase from the late 1920s to World War II, is best known today for inaugurating modern design at Herman Miller Inc.

 Bel Geddes Logo
Norman Melancton Bel Geddes
Norman Melancton Bel Geddes (April 27, 1893 – May 8, 1958) was an American theatrical and industrial designer who focused on aerodynamics. Bel Geddes opened an industrial-design studio in 1927, and designed a wide range of commercial products, from cocktail shakers to commemorative medallions to radio cabinets. His designs extended to unrealized futuristic concepts: a teardrop-shaped automobile, and an Art Deco House of Tomorrow. In 1929, he designed "Airliner Number 4," a 9-deck amphibian airliner that incorporated areas for deck-games, an orchestra, a gymnasium, a solarium, and two airplane hangars. His book, 'Horizons' (1932) had a significant impact: "By popularizing streamlining when only a few engineers were considering its functional use, he made possible the design style of the thirties." Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World's Fair. 


American Moderne Domestic Architecture
Horizontal orientation, rounded edges, corner windows, glass brick walls, porthole windows, chrome hardware, smooth exterior wall surfaces, usually stucco (smooth plaster finish), flat roof with coping, horizontal grooves or lines in walls.
Subdued colors: base colors were typically light earth tones, off-whites, or beiges; and trim colours were typically dark colors (or bright metals) to contrast from the light base
The 'Normandie Hotel', which opened during 1942, is built in the stylized shape of the ocean liner 'SS Normandie', and it includes the ship's original sign.

 Normandie Hotel
The Normandie Hotel is a hotel located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The hotel originally opened on October 10, 1942. Its design was inspired by the ocean liner SS Normandie. It features the same art deco design as the ship that inspired it, and the hotel's roof sign is one of the two signs that adorned the top deck of the Normandie but were removed from it during an early refitting. It is a fine example of what came to be known as the 'Moderne' architecture style. Designed by architect Raúl Reichard (1908–1996), the hotel began construction in 1938. The hotel's exterior was designed to resemble a luxury liner, elongated and curved in front, with portal-shape windows and lights. Inside, the hotel features 'art deco' design, complete with Roman, Egyptian, and French details, high ceilings, and corridors looking down into a central sky-lighted atrium. Designers and artists from the Dominican Republic, France, Spain, and Puerto Rico all contributed to the hotel's overall construction.

The 'Sterling Streamliner Diners' were diners designed like streamlined trains.

Sterling Streamliner Diner
Inspired by the streamlined trains, and especially the Burlington Zephyr, Roland Stickney designed a diner in the shape of a streamlined train called the Sterling Streamliner in 1939. Built by the J.B. Judkins coach company, who had built custom car bodies, the Sterling and other diner production ceased in 1942 at the beginning on American involvement in World War II. Two Sterling Streamliners remain in operation: the Salem Diner at its original location in Salem, Massachusetts and the Modern Diner in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Although 'Moderne' houses are less common than 'Moderne' commercial buildings, residences do exist.
The 'Lydecker House' in Los Angeles, built by Howard Lydecker, is an example of 'Moderne' design in residential architecture.

The Lydecker Hilltop House is an 'art deco' house and film location in Los Angeles, California designed by Howard and Theodore Lydecker. It was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles on May 14, 2008.

(Peter's experience of American Deco architecture came from the magazines that he regularly received from Zac's family in Ohio)

In tract development, elements of the style were frequently used as a variation in postwar row housing in San Francisco's Sunset District.

English 'Moderne' - circa 1930

Domestic Deco was not restricted to America, and in Hounslow - where Peter lived as a boy, there were many example of 1930s domestic architecture (see above).

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

Jane Crawford had a number of pieces of 'Deco' jewellery - but obviously not of the quality illustrated below.....


Van Cleef & Arpels - Diamond, Emerald and Onyx Bracelet

Van Cleef & Arpels is a French jewellery, watch, and perfume company that was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. They opened their first boutique in 1906 at 22 place Vendôme, Paris. Van Cleef & Arpels are renowned for their expertise in precious stones and have won particular acclaim for a groundbreaking gem-setting procedure known as the Mystery Setting.
In 1896, Esther Arpels, the daughter of Salomon Arpels, a dealer in precious stones, married Alfred Van Cleef, whose family were sheet merchants living in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. That same year, Alfred Van Cleef and Salomon Arpels had already established a company with the aim of “founding and running a jewellery business”. In 1906, they registered the “Van Cleef & Arpels” trademark and opened a boutique at 22 place Vendôme. They were soon joined by Esther’s brothers, Salomon, Jules and Louis Arpels. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938, leaving his daughter, Renée Rachel Puissant, behind him. From 1909 to 1939, Van Cleef & Arpels prospered and opened  boutiques in holiday resorts such as Deauville, Le Touquet, Nice and Monte-Carlo.

Jean Despre - Art Deco Brooch

Jean Fouquet - Art Deco Bracelet


Cartier - Art Deco Diamond and Emerald Jabot Pin

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
Cartier S.A., commonly known as "Cartier", is a French luxury jeweler and watch manufacturer. The corporation carries the name of the Cartier family of jewellers whose control ended in 1964 and who were known for numerous pieces including the "Bestiary" (best illustrated by the Panthère brooch of the 1940s created for Wallis Simpson), the diamond necklace created for Bhupinder Singh the Maharaja of Patiala and in 1904 the first practical wristwatch, the "Santos." Cartier SA is headquartered in Paris.
The company has a long and distinguished history of serving royalty, as well as stars and celebrities.
Cartier was founded in Paris in 1847 by Louis-François Cartier when he took over the workshop of his master. In 1874, his son Alfred Cartier took over the administration of the company, but it was Alfred's sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques, who were responsible for establishing the worldwide brand name of Cartier.
Louis retained responsibility for the Paris branch, moving to the Rue de la Paix, in 1899. He was responsible for some of the company's most celebrated designs, like the mystery clocks (a type of clock with a transparent dial and so named because their works are hidden), fashionable wristwatches and exotic orientalist Art Deco designs, including the colorful "Tutti Frutti" jewels.
Pierre Cartier established the New York City branch in 1909, moving in 1917 to the current location of 653 Fifth Avenue, the Neo-Renaissance mansion of Morton Freeman Plant (son of railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant) and designed by architect C.P.H. Gilbert.
Among the Cartier team was Charles Jacqueau, who joined Louis Cartier in 1909 for his entire life, and Jeanne Toussaint, who was Director of Fine Jewelry from 1933 on.

Cartier - Mackay Emerald and Diamond Necklace

Rolex Watch - Gentleman's Wrist Watch - 9 carat Gold - c 1930

Rolex SA is a Swiss manufacturer of high-quality, luxury wristwatches.
In 1905 Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis founded "Wilsdorf and Davis" in London.[8] Their main business at the time was importing Hermann Aegler's Swiss movements to England and placing them in quality watch cases made by Dennison and others. These early wristwatches were sold to jewellers, who then put their own names on the dial. The earliest watches from Wilsdorf and Davis were usually hallmarked "W&D" inside the caseback.
In 1908 Wilsdorf registered the trademark "Rolex" and opened an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The company name "Rolex" was registered on 15 November 1915. The word was made up, but its origin is obscure. Wilsdorf was said to want his watch brand's name to be easily pronounceable in any language. He also thought that the name "Rolex" was onomatopoeic, sounding like a watch being wound. It was also short enough to fit on the face of a watch. One story, never confirmed by Wilsdorf, is that the name came from the French phrase horlogerie exquise, meaning "exquisite clockwork".
In 1914 Kew Observatory awarded a Rolex watch a Class A precision certificate, a distinction which was normally awarded exclusively to marine chronometers.
In 1919 Wilsdorf moved the company to Geneva, Switzerland where it was established as the Rolex Watch Company. Its name was later changed to Montres Rolex, SA and finally Rolex, SA.
Upon the death of his wife in 1944, Wilsdorf established the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation in which he left all of his Rolex shares, making sure that some of the company's income would go to charity. The company is still owned by a private trust and shares are not traded on any stock exchange.



'Futura' is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in 1927 by Paul Renner. It was designed as a contribution on the New Frankfurt-project.
It is based on geometric shapes that became representative of visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–33.
Commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, in reaction to Ludwig & Mayer's seminal 'Erbar' of 1922, 'Futura' was commercially released in 1936.
Futura has an appearance of efficiency and forwardness.
The typeface is derived from simple geometric forms (near-perfect circles, triangles and squares) and is based on strokes of near-even weight, which are low in contrast.
This is most visible in the almost perfectly round stroke of the 'o', which is nonetheless slightly ovoid.
In designing Futura, Renner avoided the decorative, eliminating non-essential elements. The lowercase has tall ascenders, which rise above the cap line.
The uppercase characters present proportions similar to those of classical Roman capitals.

 'Koch Antiqua'
designed by W Harweth

Not all Deco typographical fonts were aggressively 'modern'.
Some developed older forms to satisfy contemporary needs.
Such a style is Antiqua - a style of text used to mimic the hand.

see: Germany 1880-1945
Art Deco Fraktur
see: Germany 1880-1945
Antiqua, Blackletter, Fraktur, and Textura are all examples of Handwriting text or Old Style text.
New versions of Antiqua were developed in the 1920s and 1930s, mainly in Germany.
Antiqua's Germanic opposite is 'blackletter', in which the letter forms are broken or fractured - hence 'fraktur'
In 19th- and 20th-century Germany there was a dispute over whether German should be written in Antiqua or the highly developed Fraktur blackletter.
In 1911, the German Reichstag rejected an official switch by only three votes: 85 to 82.
Adolf Hitler advocated a switch in 1934 but took no action until 1941 when a decree in
Germany outlawed the use of blackletter in favour of Antiqua.


Many of the books that Peter (eventualy) read during his childhood were printed using 'Deco' fonts

'Perpetua Typeface'
Eric Gill

'Perpetua' is a typeface that was designed by English sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker Eric Gill (1882–1940).
Though not designed in the historical period of transitional type (the hallmark of transitional type was John Baskerville's type designed in the last half of the 18th century), 'Perpetua' can be classified with transitional typefaces because of characteristics such as high stroke contrast and bracketed serifs. 
long with these characteristics, 'Perpetua' bears the distinct personality of Eric Gill's letterforms.
Gill began work on 'Perpetua' in 1925 at the request of Stanley Morison, typographical advisor to Monotype.
Morison sought Gill's talent to design a new typeface for the foundry.
By 1929, 'Perpetua Roman' was issued as Monotype Series 239.
Gill also produced a 'sans serif' font', but it was unable to compete with 'Futura'.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
'Human Croquette on the Lawn'
unknown artist

This is an example of popular Deco graphics from the Odhams series of practical home help books - entitled 'The Home Entertainer' endite by S G Hedges.
It epitomises the Deco style - and yet has a somewhat surreal quality.

Jane Crawford bought a complete set of this particular Odhams series - designed to assist the young married home-owner.
Peter still own the original 1938 copies.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
'Christmas Greetings'
unknown artist

This image forms the frontispiece to Odhams 'The Home Entertainer', published in 1939, and is unmistakably redolent of the thirties, Deco period.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
'Ancient Mythology - The Greek Pantheon'
unknown artist

Art Deco graphic art was not only influenced by the styles of preceding artists, especially Walter Crane and Aubrey Beardsley, but also by the printing technology available at the time, and the high level of demand for cheap, illustrated books.

Walter Crane
Walter Crane (Liverpool 15 August 1845 – 14 March 1915 Horsham) was an English artist and book illustrator. He is considered to be the most influential, and among the most prolific, children’s book creator of his generation. His work featured some of the more colourful and detailed beginnings of the child-in-the-garden motifs that would characterize many children's stories for decades to come. He was part of the Arts and Crafts movement and produced an array of paintings, illustrations, children's books, ceramic tiles and other decorative arts.

Aubrey Beardsley - looking Deco
before the style had been invented
Aubrey Vincent Beardsley (21 August 1872 – 16 March 1898) was an English illustrator and author. His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley's contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death from tuberculosis.

To this end, many artists adopted a style which relied heavily on line-drawing, and contrasting areas of flat colour. This was usually achieved through the use of pen and ink, and when modelling was required it was usually provided by the technique of cross-hatching.
The result of such restrictions was an art style that was capable of producing very distinctive and striking images.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
'A 1930s British Political Meeting'
unknown artist
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
The Reading Room of the British Museum - London
unknown artist

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

German AEG Fan - Poster - 1930s

KdF Wagen Poster - 1930s

KdF Wagen

Herkules -Bier - Poster - 1930s

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

The Volksempfänger (German for "people's receiver") was a Art Deco style radio receivers developed by engineer Otto Griessing at the request of Propaganda Minister, Dr Joseph Goebbels.

The purpose of the Volksempfänger-program was to make radio reception technology affordable to the general public.

Dr Goebbels realized the great propaganda potential of this relatively new medium and thus considered widespread availability of receivers highly important.
This radio looked suspiciously like the radio at 55 Pears Road - in Hounslow.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

Between the wars, during the Deco period, there  was an obsession with rambling, walking and hiking.
This was partly as a response to what had happened to the landscape in Belgium and Northern France during the 1914-18 war.
The landscape, in the twenties and thirties was seen as something to be cherished, preserved and respectfully explored. It was the beginning of 'environmentalism'.
The countryside was seen by many as infinitely superior to the city, as the city was often seen as the originator and formentor of the mechanised horror of the trenches.
The Deco period was a time of clubs and societies, and many of these groups were dedicated to hiking and 'wandering'.
One of the most influential was the 'Wandervogel' movement in Germany - which had its parallels in many European countries, and was the precursor of such groups as Hitlerjungend in the later thirties.

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups, The name can be translated as 'rambling', 'hiking', or 'wandering bird' (differing in meaning from "Zugvogel" or migratory bird), and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society, and get back to nature and freedom. Soon the groups split and there originated ever more organisations, which still all called themselves Wandervogel, but were organisationally independent. Nonetheless the feeling was still of being a common movement, but split into several branches.

This obsession with rambling and hiking was part of a greater concern with the 'body beautiful', and a renewed interest in the aesthetics of the human form, and in particular the male and female nude - subjects which often featured in Deco art - both 'fine' and 'decorative'.
Text - © Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

English Lido - 1930s

notice the 1930s suburbs in the background

Jane and Peter at Isle of Wight Lido

Deutsch Sport - Naktjunge

A 'Craze' for Health and Sport

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
English Garden Games for Children - 1938
another illustration from the Odhams series owned by Jane Crawford

1930s Swimwear Styles
Continental Sunbathing
In addition there were numerous 'crazes' (the twenties and thirties were the decades for 'crazes'), including the craze for hiking, and the craze for sunbathing.
Until the 1920s a sunburned skin had usually indicated that a person was of the lower, manual working class, who would labour out of doors, and have a tanned skin.
After the war, however, with the decline in farming in Europe and America, most of the working class worked in factories, shops or offices, and developed pale skin.
It was then that only the wealthy, who had 'private incomes', and were not obliged to work, could spend time out of doors.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
another illustration from the Odhams series owned by Jane Crawford

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
another illustration from the Odhams series owned by Jane Crawford

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
another illustration from the Odhams series owned by Jane Crawford
Windsor Castle - close to Hounslow - was a favourite destination for outings involving Jane, John, Peter - and sometimes  visiting relatives.

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014
Many of the films in the cinemas in Hounslow were 'hangovers' from the pre-war years, and many 1930s films were shown on TV during the 1950s.
Peter's Aunt Gladys was enormously fond of 1930s musicals - especially those featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers


Gold Diggers of 1933

Gold Diggers of 1933 is a pre-code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy with songs by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), staged and choreographed by Busby Berkeley.

Gold Diggers of 1933 - Poster

It stars Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, and features Guy Kibbee, Ned Sparks and Ginger Rogers.

Gold Diggers of 1935

The story is based on the play 'The Gold Diggers' by Avery Hopwood, which ran for 282 performances on Broadway in 1919 and 1920.
The play was made into a silent film in 1923 by David Belasco, the producer of the Broadway play, as 'The Gold Diggers', starring Hope Hampton and Wyndham Standing, and again as a talkie in 1929, directed by Roy Del Ruth.
That film, 'Gold Diggers of Broadway', which starred Nancy Welford and Conway Tearle, was the biggest box office hit of that year, and 'Gold Diggers of 1933' was one of the top grossing films of 1933.
This version of Hopwood's play was written by James Seymour and Erwin S. Gelsey, with additional dialogue by David Boehm and Ben Markson.

 "Lullaby of Broadway"

The most famous musical number from the film was the "Lullaby of Broadway", with music written by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, published in 1935.

The lyrics salute the nightlife of Broadway and its denizens, who "don't sleep tight until the dawn."

The song was introduced by Wini Shaw.

 "Lullaby of Broadway"

 "Lullaby of Broadway"

In 2003, Gold Diggers of 1933 was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Gold Diggers of 1935

Gold Diggers of 1935 was the third film of the Gold Diggers series of movie musicals, after Gold Diggers of Broadway in 1929 (now lost) and Gold Diggers of 1933, a remake of the earlier film.

Gold Diggers of 1935

Both the original and the 1933 film made a great deal of money for Warner Bros., and Gold Diggers of 1935 was an attempt to repeat that success. It was followed by Gold Diggers of 1937 and Gold Diggers in Paris.

Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers
'Follow the Fleet' - 1936

Follow the Fleet (RKO) is a 1936 Hollywood musical comedy film with a nautical theme which stars Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and features Randolph Scott, Harriet Hilliard, and Astrid Allwyn, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.
Lucille Ball and Betty Grable also appear, in supporting roles.
The film was directed by Mark Sandrich with script by Allan Scott and Dwight Taylor based on the 1922 play Shore Leave by Hubert Osborne.
Follow the Fleet was extremely successful at the box office, and during 1936, Astaire's recorded versions of "Let Yourself Go", "I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket", and "Let's Face the Music and Dance" reached their highest positions of 3rd, 2nd, 3rd respectively in the US Hit Parade.
Harriet Hilliard and Tony Martin made their screen debuts in this film.
RKO borrowed Randolph Scott from Paramount and Astrid Allwyn from Fox for the production.
The most famous production number from the film is undoubtedly 'Let's face the Music and Dance'.
Astaire sings this to Rogers, after which the dance begins slowly, and culminates in a static exit pose. 
The dance is filmed in one continuous shot, lasting two minutes and fifty seconds.
During the first take, Ginger's dress, which was heavily weighted so as to achieve a controlled swirling action, hit Astaire in the face midway through the routine, though the effect is barely discernible.
He nonetheless selected this take out of twenty overall for the final picture.
The set - designed by Carroll Clark under the direction of Van Nest Polglase - is frequently cited as a leading example of Art Deco-influenced art direction known as Hollywood Moderne.


'Ariel Between Wisdom and Gaiety'
BBC Broadcasting House, 1932.
Eric Gill

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (22 February 1882 – 17 November 1940) was a British sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. Gill was born in 1882 in Brighton, Sussex (now East Sussex) and in 1897 the family moved to Chichester. Eric studied at Chichester Technical and Art School, and in 1900 moved to London to train as an architect with the practice of W.D. Caroe, specialists in ecclesiastical architecture. Frustrated with his training, he took evening classes in stone masonry at Westminster Technical Institute and in calligraphy at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, where Edward Johnston, creator of the London Underground typeface, became a strong influence. In 1903 he gave up his architectural training to become a calligrapher, letter-cutter and monumental mason. In 1904 he married Ethel Hester Moore (1878–1961), and in 1907 he moved with his family to "Sopers", a house in the village of Ditchling in Sussex, which would later become the centre of an artists' community inspired by Gill. There he started producing sculpture – his first public success was Mother and Child (1912). In 1913 he moved to Hopkin's Crank at Ditchling Common, two miles north of the village. In 1914 he produced sculptures for the stations of the cross in Westminster Cathedral. In the same year he met the typographer Stanley Morison. In 1924 he moved to Capel-y-ffin in Wales, where he set up a new workshop, to be followed by Jones and other disciples. In 1925 he designed the Perpetua typeface, with the uppercase based upon monumental Roman inscriptions, for Morison, who was working for the Monotype Corporation. An in-situ example of Gill's design and personal cutting of his Perpetua typeface can be found in the nave of Poling church in West Sussex, on a wall plaque commemorating the life of Sir Harry Johnston. The Perpetua design was followed by the Gill Sans typeface in 1927–30, based on the sans serif lettering originally designed for the London Underground. (Gill had collaborated with Edward Johnston in the early design of the Underground typeface, but dropped out of the project before it was completed.) In the period 1930-31 Gill designed the typeface Joanna which he used to hand-set his book, An Essay on Typography. In 1928 he moved to Pigotts near High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, where he set up a printing press and lettering workshop. He took on a number of  apprentices, including David Kindersley, who in turn became a successful sculptor and engraver, and John Skelton (1923–1999), his nephew, and also noted as an important letterer and sculptor. In    1928/9, Gill carved three of eight relief sculptures on the theme of winds for Charles Holden's headquarters for the London Electric Railway (now Transport for London) at 55 Broadway, St James's. In 1932 Gill produced a group of sculptures, Prospero and Ariel, and others for the BBC's Broadcasting House in London. In 1937, he designed the background of the first George VI definitive stamp series for the Post Office, and in 1938 produced The Creation of Adam, three bas-reliefs in stone for the Palace of Nations, the League of Nations building in Geneva, Switzerland. During this period he was made a Royal Designer for Industry, the highest British award for designers, by the Royal Society of Arts and became a founder-member of the newly established Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry. Gill died of lung cancer in Harefield Hospital, Uxbridge, Middlesex in 1940. He was buried in Speen churchyard in the Chilterns, near Princes Risborough, the village where his last artistic community had practised. His papers and library are archived at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA.


Koloman Moser


Hollywood  Bowl  Auditorium

The Hollywood Bowl is a modern amphitheater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States that is used primarily for music performances. It has a seating capacity of 17,376.
The Hollywood Bowl is known for its band shell, a distinctive set of concentric arches that graced the site from 1929 through 2003,
In 1929 Allied Architects built the shell that stood until 2003, using a transite skin over a metal frame.
Its clean lines and white, almost-semicircular arches were copied for music shells elsewhere.  The appearance underwent other, purely visual, changes as well, including the addition of a broad outer arch (forming a proscenium) where it had once had only a narrow rim and the reflecting pool in front of the stage that lasted from 1953 till 1972. Sculptor George Stanley designed the Muse Fountain. He had previously done The Oscar statuette.

Dining Room
Donald Deskey- New York - 1934

Eliel Saarinen - 1934 - New York

Barnsdall (Hollybock) - Los Angeles
Frank Lloyd Wright

Nebraska State Capitol

In 1922 Bertram G. Goodhue was selected as the winner of the competition to design the State capitol building
His design used the Classical principles of austerity, abstract geometrical form, and hierarchical arrangements of parts, but did not use columns, pediment, or dome, and is a superb example of America Art Deco architecture.
The capitol is often considered the first major expression of what has been termed Goodhue's "freely interpreted classical style."
The cross-axial plan is similar to a traditional Catholic church or cathedral.
The building's four wings radiate from a central domed rotunda, architecturally separating the parts of government.
The unarticulated windows and flat surfaces anticipate modern skyscrapers. It is also the first U.S. state capitol with usable tower space.
The $9,800,449.07 construction costs were secured by a special capitol levy tax. The building was completed during 10 years with supervision by William Lefevre Younkin.

Louisiana State Capitol

In 1930 Huey Long, then Governor of Louisana, contracted New Orleans architectural firm Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth to design the building, and expressed interest in a tower.
They took Bertram Goodhue's Art deco style Nebraska State Capitol Building as their model, which was still under construction at the time.
The building includes integrated sculpture by Ulric Ellerhusen, Lee Lawrie, Adolph Alexander Weinman, Corrado Parducci and Lorado Taft, among others, and also contains murals by Jules Guerin.
The building was completed in March 1932 (dedicated May 16, 1932) after 14 months at a cost of $5 million

Ely Jacques Kahn's & Albert Buchman - Gilded Bronze Grill

Ely Jacques Kahn's partnership with Albert Buchman lasted from 1917 until 1930.
In this period his work alternated Beaux-Arts with cubism, modernism, and art deco, of which examples are 2 Park Avenue (1927), using architectural terracotta in jazzy facets and primary colors, the Film Center Building in Hell's Kitchen (1928-29) and the Squibb Building (1930), which Kahn considered among his best work.
In what has become an iconic photograph, Kahn masqueraded as his own Squibb Building with other architects dressed as buildings for the Beaux Arts Ball of 1931.
The building moved decisively away from the decorative modernity of the Art Deco 20s.

Elevator Doors - 275 Madison Avenue
New York - 1930s

The Trylon and Perisphere 

The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the 1,216 acres (4.92 km2) of Fountain Lake , was the second largest American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904.
Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons.
The NYWF of 1939–1940 was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow". According to the official New York World's Fair pamphlet,

'The eyes of the Fair are on the future — not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines. To its visitors the Fair will say: "Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future.'

Chrysler Expo Building - 1939 World Fair

Radio City Music Hall 

Radio City Music Hall is an entertainment venue located in Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The 12-acre (4.9 ha) complex in midtown Manhattan known as Rockefeller Center was developed between 1929 and 1940 by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., on land leased from Columbia University.
The Radio City Music Hall was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, and interior designer Donald Deskey in the Art Deco style.
Radio City has 5,933 seats for spectators, and it became the largest movie theater in the world at the time of its opening.

Radio City Music Hall - Interior

Designed by Edward Durell Stone, the interior of the theater, with its austere Art Deco lines, represented a break with the traditional ornate rococo ornament associated with movie palaces at the time.
The radiating arches of the proscenium united the large auditorium, allowing a sense of intimacy as well as grandeur.
The interior decor was created by designer Donald Deskey.
Deskey's geometric Art Deco designs incorporate glass, aluminum, chrome, and leather in the ornament for the theater's wall coverings, carpet, light fixtures, and furniture.
His work borrowed heavily from the European Moderne aesthetic style, of which he was the foremost exponent in the United States.

Radio City West

The Burbank Studios (formerly known as NBC Studios) is a television production facility located in Burbank, California. The studios are home to Access Hollywood, Access Hollywood Live and Days of our Lives.
The architect for the distinctive Streamline Moderne building at Hollywood and Vine was John C. Austin.


The Twenties and Thirties - the Deco period - is often presented as a time of unrelieved gloom and economic depression.
This is not at all the case. In many areas of Europe, and particularly in southern England there was considerable economic activity and development.

Dominion Cinema
Hounslow Middlesex - 1930s

Odeon Cinema - Hounslow

Odeon Cinema - Auditorium - Muswell Hill

Odeon Cinema - Interior - Muswell Hill

Large suburbs were constructed in a mixture, in England, of 'Tudor-bethan' (a peculiarly English style), Deco and Moderne styles. In addition, to support these suburbs, many factories and offices were constructed, usually, again, in   Deco and Moderne styles.
An example of this was the Great West Road, in England, which was constructed to run from London out into the Middlesex suburb of Osterly, and was linde with lavish, Art Deco factories.

Hoover Building - Great West Road

Hoover Building - Details

The Great West Road was opened in 1925 in order to bypass the notoriously congested Brentford High Street, and many factories of architectural merit were rapidly built along the road to take advantage of both the good communications it provided, and the easy availability of land for new buildings. Many examples of the Art Deco architecture remain. However, no commercial buildings could be built further west along the Great West Road (A4) after Syon Lane (Gillette Corner) as the land was owned by the Church Commissioners. Syon Lane railway station was built especially for the workers at these various factories. One of the most beautiful single-storey deco buildings belonged to the Firestone Tyre Factory - painted entirely in white - and now, unfortunately demolished.

And these factories produced huge quantities of consumer durables, many of which were electrical appliances for the home.
All of these consumer items, of course, had to be designed, and as they were items previously unknown, such as hairdriers, vacuum cleaners, fridges and the like, there was no traditional design solution available, and so they were almost always subjected to Deco 'streamlining', which was further fascilitated by the use of new materials such as Baekerlite, plastic and stainless steel.

Bakelite, or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, is an early plastic. It is a thermosetting phenol formaldehyde resin, formed from an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde. It was developed by Belgian-born chemist Leo Baekeland.
One of the first plastics made from synthetic components, Bakelite was used for its electrical nonconductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings, and such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, firearms, and children's toys. The "retro" appeal of old Bakelite products has made them collectible.

Deco can therefore be seen as an amalgam of pre-existint aesthetics, and in particular neo-classicism, with its emphasis on symettry and proportion, and modern materials, and its classical underpinning make ir undoubtedly the 'last of the great styles'.

Text - © Copyright Zac Sawyer 2014

Gillette  Factory - Great  West Road - Hounslow
Sir Banister Fletcher

King Camp Gillette (January 5, 1855 – July 9, 1932) was an American businessman, popularly known as the inventor of the safety razor, although several models were in existence prior to Gillette's design. Gillette's innovation was the thin, inexpensive, disposable blade of stamped steel.
Gillette is widely credited with inventing the so-called razor and blades business model, where razors are sold cheaply to increase the market for blades, but in fact he did not adopt this model until his competitors did.
The 'Gillette Building' is a grade II listed Art Deco style office and works development, designed by Sir Banister Fletcher, incorporating a high brick tower surmounted by a four-faced neon-illuminated clock. As this tall structure sits on high ground it represents a prominent local landmark and can be seen from afar, day and night. From the early 1930s until the early 21st century this building was the European headquarters of the Gillette Company, of Boston Massachusetts.

Gillette  Factory - Great  West Road - Hounslow
Sir Banister Fletcher

Sir Banister Flight Fletcher (15 February 1866, London – 17 August 1953, London) was an English architect and architectural historian, as was his father, also named Banister Fletcher.
With his father, he co-authored the first edition of A History of Architecture - A History of Architecture on the Comparative Method. London: Athlone Press, University of London.
He was architect of the Gillette factory on the Great West Road, in Brentford, Middlesex, of the Great Hall at King's College School, and of Abbess Grange, Leckford, Hampshire.
He was elected president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1929 (until 1931).

Firestone  Gates - Great  West Road - Hounslow

Firestone Main Entrance - Before Demolition in 2004

The Firestone Tyre Company. Built 1928, designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners. It was the first overseas factory built by the Firestone company of America. The building frontage was demolished during a public holiday in August 1980 shortly before a preservation order was   due to be served on it to retain the Art Deco architecture.
The Art Deco gatehouse was demolished in 2004 to make way for increased parking facilities. 
The remaining gates, railings, and piers are in a 'Jazz  Moderne' style, and are Grade II listed - so why wasn't the main building  Grade II listed ?

Coty's  Cosmetics  Factory - Great  West Road - Hounslow
Coty Cosmetics factory, No. 941, designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners opened in 1932

Dorset House - Marylebone - London

Midland Hotel - Morcambe
Oliver Hill

Dorchester Hotel - Park Lane - Mayfair - London

Dorchester Hotel - Park Lane - Mayfair - London

Strand Palace Hotel Foyer - London - 1930

Atlantic Bar and Grill - London

Atlantic Bar and Grill - London

Claridges Hotel - Entrance Lobby

Whitehall Theatre - London

Deco Relief - Cambridge Theatre

Senate House of the University of London

Senate House is the administrative centre of the University of London, situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, London. The main building contains the University of London's Central Academic Bodies and Activities, including the offices of the Vice-Chancellor of the University, the entire collection of the Senate House Library, and eight of the ten research institutes of the School of Advanced Study (SAS).

The Art Deco building was constructed between 1932 and 1937 as the first phase of a large uncompleted scheme designed for the University by Charles Holden.
It consists of 19 floors and is 210 feet (64 m) high, making it the second tallest building in London (after St Paul's Cathedral) when it was completed.
The building's use by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War inspired George Orwell's description of the 'Ministry of Truth' in his novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.

Senate House of the University of London - Interior

The Art Deco building was constructed between 1932 and 1937 as the first phase of a large uncompleted scheme designed for the University by Charles Holden.
It consists of 19 floors and is 210 feet (64 m) high, making it the second tallest building in London (after St Paul's Cathedral) when it was completed.
The building's use by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War inspired George Orwell's description of the 'Ministry of Truth' in his novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.

RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Building London
Grey Worman

Commonwealth Airforce Memorial 
Sir Edwin Maufe

This is an excellent example of an Art Deco design produced after the Second World War

Commonwealth Airforce Memorial
Sir Edwin Maufe

St. Columba - Pont Street Knightsbridge
Sir Edwin Maufe

Ruhlmann - Desk

Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (28 August 1879 – 15 November 1933), his first names often seen reversed as Jacques-Émile, was a renowned French designer of furniture and interiors, epitomising for many the glamour of the French Art Deco style of the 1920s. He was born in Paris to Alsatian parents who were in the general decorating business. When his father died in 1907 he took over the   family firm. In 1919 Ruhlmann founded, with Pierre Laurent, the company Ruhlmann et Laurent, specializing in interior design and producing luxury home goods that included furniture, wallpaper and lighting. By this time, Ruhlmann was making formal elegant furniture using precious and exotic  woods in combination with ivory fittings, giving them a classic, timeless appeal. Ruhlmann's legacy as a designer was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2004. In 2009, he was called the "Art Deco's greatest artist" by the New York Times.

Ruhlmann - Chaise Longue

Ruhlmann - Table

Norman Bel Geddes - Mac Cobb Chairs

Norman Melancton Bel Geddes (April 27, 1893 – May 9, 1958) was an American theatrical and industrial designer who focused on aerodynamics.Bel Geddes was born Norman Melancton Geddes in Adrian, Michigan, and raised in New Philadelphia, Ohio.
He began his career with set designs for Aline Barnsdall's Los Angeles Little Theater in the 1916-1917 season, then in 1918 as the scene designer for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

He designed and directed various theatrical works, from Arabesque and The Five O'Clock Girl on Broadway to an ice show entitled It Happened on Ice produced by Sonja Henie.
He designed costumes for Max Reinhardt, and created the sets for the New York premiere production of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End (1935).
Bel Geddes opened an industrial-design studio in 1927, and designed a wide range of commercial products, from cocktail shakers to commemorative medallions to radio cabinets. His designs extended to unrealized futuristic concepts: a teardrop-shaped automobile, and an Art Deco House of Tomorrow. In 1929, he designed "Airliner Number 4," a 9-deck amphibian airliner that incorporated areas for deck-games, an orchestra, a gymnasium, a solarium, and two airplane hangars. Bel Geddes's book Horizons (1932) had a significant impact: "By popularizing streamlining when only a few engineers were considering its functional use, he made possible the design style of the thirties." Bel Geddes designed the General Motors Pavilion, known as Futurama, for the 1939 New York World's Fair. His autobiography, Miracle in the Evening, was published posthumously in 1960.

Norman Bel Geddes - Dressing Table

T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings - Chair and Stool

T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings (1905-1976) was a British born architect and furniture designer, who studied architecture at London University. He afterwards worked briefly as a naval architect, designing ocean liner interiors, and then as art director for a motion picture studio. In 1926, he became a salesman for an antiques dealer who specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture. In the late 1930s and 40s, he was the most important decorator in America. He opened a shop on Madison Ave in 1936 and proceeded to design houses for people like Doris Duke, Alfred A. Knopf and Thelma Chrysler Foy. From 1943-56, he worked as a designer for the Widdicomb furniture company in Grand Rapids. Then in 1960, he net Greek cabinetmakers Susan and Eleftherios Saridis. Together they created the Klismos line of furniture, which is still in production.

T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings - Console Table

English Art Deco Sideboard
c - 1930s

English Art Deco Sideboard
c - 1930s

Geometric Style Sideboard
c 1930

English Art Deco Leather Sofa
circa 1930

English 1930s Cocktail Cabinet

Deco Style Tiled Fireplace

 Mariner's Bowl
Sidney Biehler Waugh  (1904 - 1963)

Glass Bowl Lamp Shade

Sconce - 1935

Moderne Streamline Toaster - 1930s

General Electric Bakerlite Radio

By 1890, Thomas Edison had brought together several of his business interests under one corporation to form Edison General Electric. At about the same time, Thomson-Houston Electric Company, under the leadership of C harles A. Coffin, gained access to a number of key patents through the acquisition of a number of competitors.
Subsequently, General Electric was formed by the 1892 merger of Edison General Electric of Schenectady, New York and Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts, and both plants remain in operation under the GE banner to this day. The company was incorporated in New York, with the Schenectady plant as headquarters for many years thereafter.
GE has the fourth most recognized brand in the world, worth almost $48 billion.

Walter Dorwin Teague - Nocturne Radio

Walter Dorwin Teague (December 18, 1883 - December 5, 1960) was an American architect, designer and one of the most prolific American industrial designers in terms of volume of completed work.
Teague's name and vision lives on through the legacy of his company.

Walter Dorwin Teague - Desk lamp

Plastic Wall Light Fitting - 1930s

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