Having a touch of classic inspiration isn't necessarily about recreating a look from the past — it can be as simple as taking a few details here and there, as Giles Kime explains.
In 2003, under the stewardship of the brilliant Sir Mark Jones, the V&A staged an exhibition that succeeded in rehabilitating Art Deco, a style that had, for too long, been associated with bingo halls, junk shops and tired south-coast resorts.
Almost overnight, the stately Claridge’s, which had previously laboured under a reputation as the grand dame of West End hotels, became rather cool. Within a couple of years, Urban Splash, an achingly trendy Manchester property developer, breathed new life into the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Oliver Hill’s Art Deco masterpiece that — to bastardise a phrase from a former editor of Saga magazine — had for many years been ‘more hip replacement than hip’.
The Art Deco era offered a deep new well of inspiration for designers working across a wide range of areas, from tableware and furniture to interiors and architecture. This was no stylistic flash in the pan; the effect of the show was more about dusting off Art Deco and welcoming it back into the mainstream than precipitating any breathless ‘Art Deco is the new Georgian’ vacuity.
Almost two decades later the influence of the exhibition is still responsible for simple, beautiful variations on a theme that combine the modern affection for clean lines and crisp details. It has also impacted on kitchen design, notably in ranges by Smallbone — such as Macassar — while another kitchen brand, Chiselwood, completed a project a couple of years ago with another exciting variation on a pleasing theme.
Martin Moore, which launched a ‘New Deco’ kitchen a couple of years ago that was inspired by the luxurious look of the 1930s, with marble finishes as well as metallic and ceramic detailing — plus the option of discreet banquet seating that wouldn’t look out of place in one of the great classic cruise liners of the era. Almost a century on, Art Deco is the stylistic revival that just keeps on giving.
The kitchen of Lanhydrock House in Cornwall provided the inspiration for a stunning new kitchen, designed by Bruce Hodgson of