Monday, October 6, 2008

art dec-adence

The (now closed) Art Deco blockbuster at the NGV was a gallery-sponsor's dream. Plenty of photo-opportunities, advertising quality (and advertising) imagery, spectacularly sleek cars, elegant dresses, striking accessories, exotic furniture and household goods. Everything was designed to within an inch of its life utilising the best in brushed or polished steel, gloss black enamel and the finest shagreen. The NGV was the house of style. Had it been a shopping centre for homewares I may have been tempted to buy one or two of everything. A wander certainly topped even a trip to the local Ikea megastore, social-democratic, utilitarian designed, pine extravaganza. Thankfully visitors were spared the Swedish names (Does anybody outside of Scandinavia want to sit on a couch called Ektorp Jennylund?) and I suspect none of the goods was flat-packed (apart maybe from the glass and chrome Strand Palace Hotel foyer).

Its great to see the attention lavished at the time on linking materials and form, especially for mass-produced household goods. Bold colours, material contrasts and strong geometry are a welcome change to the current soft, fuzzy friendliness of much of today's design. Of course these were times when no heed was paid to environmental impact. Decadence was the style of the day (for those who could afford it and for some who couldn't). I hope we don't rebel against the current green trend and head this way again, but I still enjoy looking back at the glory that was. The greenest thing in the show was the jade AWA radio.

No comments:

Post a Comment