Thursday, November 28, 2013

Art Deco Textiles

Lena Bergner
First half 20th centurey

Because Art Deco is a retrospective term we have chosen certain examples from the whole Art Moderne movement to fit our definition of Art Deco.

The first principle is geometric abstractions

Costume from the recent BBC production
of The Lady Vanishes

Rug by George Valmier 1930
Geometry with very little pictorial imagery

Repetition of line is an important principle.

Jacques Camus

O.R. Palistow, 1934
Victorian and Albert Museum

Dress from the 1930s

Dress possibly from the 1950s

Concentric lines, angles and arcs are a feature


With the fan shape of concentric arcs a running theme.

Betty Joel, France, 1928

Swatch of "Coblentz" from my Modernism reproduction
collection for Moda.

Painted metal cocktail tray

Clara Posnanski
"Paul" for the Wiener Werkstatte,
circa 1915


Post World War II Lustreware
revived the Art Deco look

A variation of the fan is a scale design, radiating lines

1929 graphic design

Another geometric necessity is the zigurat or stairstep figure,

Soviet Textile
Sort of a Sawtooth strip look

French textile

The Dance magazine
"See It With Music"

So if one wanted to make the elusive Art Deco quilt
one could look to classic quilt patterns....

with concentric 90 degree angle designs...

Detail of a Brickwork rectangle quilt

Pattern by Ruby McKim
late 1920s

BlockBase #1304.5
Palm Leaf

With Sawteeth and other repeating triangles

Unknown pattern, no BlockBase number

With Concentric Arcs...

Fan quilt, early 20th century
BlockBase #3502

 Laura Wheeler/Alice Brooks drawing.
No BlockBase Number

And Scale designs...

Sunshine from the Clara Stone pattern business
about 1910
BlockBase #3347

Who inspired whom?

Craftsy recently posted some contemporary quilts they considered Art Deco. Do they meet your definition of Art Deco?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Modern Print Monday: Stockholm Floral

My new Modernism collection from Moda
had to include a circular flower.

I've had this mid-century yardage for quite a while.
I used to think of it as apron fabric
but now I realize it was once the height of modernism. 

Each of the prints in this line is named for a European city. I called the reproduction Stockholm to acknowledge another capital of modern design.

But it's early 20th century Vienna and the Viennese Workshop (Wiener Werkstätte)  that originated the classic circular floral (Mary Engelbreit has called it a fried egg flower.) 

Riva by Josef Hoffman
About 1910

Vorgarten by Wilhem Jonasch, 1910

Fashion Illustration
in postcard form
by Maria Likarz

Another Wiener Werkstätte card

Read more about Wiener Werkstätte textiles here:

And more about these minimal floral abstractions at this post:

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Art Deco: Happy Birthday Donald Deskey

Box by Donald Deskey
Painted wood and silver leaf, 1928
Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Valerie Steele in her 1988 book Paris Fashion: A Cultural History, notes a difference between Parisian and American designers in the past. The French were always eager to glorify the fashion designer---Worth, Poiret,  Chanel and Dior, while the Americans tended to glorify American style rather than individuals. Americans like Claire McCardle do not have the same name recognition as Elsa Schiaparelli.

Donald Deskey 1894-1989

And neither does Donald Deskey, but his industrial design defined  American Art Deco. After visiting the 1925 Paris Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes he went on to win the competition to design Radio City Music Hall in New York in the 1930s. 

Like many of the arts and crafts architects he advocated a unified whole down to the carpets, lighting and signage. 

Carpet at Radio City

I think this is the dressing room for the theatre.

The public lounges for men and women on each floor
were perfectly modern.

His wallpaper for the men's lounges featured a cartoon-like
assemblage of men's indulgences
called The History of Tobacco.

The carpet pattern is a cubist version of musical instruments called a Still Life with Violins.

He also did a Singing Woman carpet.

The apartment at the top of Radio City Music Hall
is the only surviving Deskey interior residence.
You can rent it for events but they remove the furniture.

Deskey created furniture and accessories that set a style.

My parents married in the 1930s
and furnished their New York apartment
in Deskey knockoffs.
I hope my sister still has the lamp we had that was inspired by this Deskey piece. 

Here's a Deskey desk

Which makes me wonder who designed this
Singer Sewing Machine Cabinet.
I still have one that my mother bought in the 1940s.

Aluminum and Bakelite 
plastic cocktail shaker

Donald Deskey was born November 23, 1894 so give him a toast with a martini from your art deco cocktail shaker on his 120th birthday this week.

Or buy a scarf and jewelry from the Metropolitan Museum based on the box at the top of the page

Deskey's archives are at the Cooper-Hewitt Design  Museum. Click on these links:.