French Bronze 1930s - 1950s

A Small Collection

We have recently purchased some fittings for our home and we wanted to use vintage fittings to soften the newness of everything else. Adding vintage details seems to make a room more lived in, avoiding a showroom effect.

It was fun hunting down various bits and pieces, though of course everything we found which was, in our minds, perfect, cost more than the house itself. But we found that we didn't have to compromise too much in finding some lovely things which suited our budget and our taste in French 1940s interiors.

Choosing a warmer palette than usual, we chose a couple of bronze light fittings, which are warmly golden with the patina of age.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Four arm bronze and alabaster ceiling light by Petitot. 1930s. Glamour.

Maison Petitot started in the Paris in the 1870s, but it is probably best known for its art deco light fittings from the 20s and 30s. Specialising in bronze and other metal fittings, it teamed up with a number of fancy glass manufacturers like Sabino and Mullers Freres for the shades.   I love this fixture because of the heavy stylised drapery.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

Maison Leleu. 1940s-1950s. Looking sad without shades.

We also needed a couple of sconces and we found these bronze and glass (I wonder if the glass is actually lucite because they never feel cold like glass, and also, lucite was a modern and chic material to use at the time) sconces from Maison Leleu (I should say attributed to as they aren't signed).  I wondered whether to clean these up a bit by polishing them but it turns out that they have been lacquered (whether at the time of manufacture or since, I don't know) and to clean them risked damaging them. It's fine, of course, I'll take the patina.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

Bronze key plate. Vadim Androusov. 1940s-1950s. Love.

My final purchase was a small key plate by the Russian/French sculptor, Vadim Androusov. Androusov was known for his terracotta, stone or wood figures from the 1920s but later created bronze fixtures for grand cabinet makers like Andre Arbus and Jean Pascaud. While I am waiting for the people from xlotto to send me a giant cheque, I am not in a position to purchase any such furniture, so when I saw this little key plate, I was more than happy to buy it! It's a small thing, I know, but it's a lovely piece of sculpture in its own right and resonates 1940s-1950s French interior design.

Who Wants to Live in a 1949 Farming Pavilion? Me.

Optimistic Architecture

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

from The Penrose Annual 1951, photographer Alfred Cracknell

Some things are designed to give such joy. I came across this small photo of a pavilion in an old advertising industry journal. A quick check reveals it was designed by Sir Misha Black (1910-1977) on behalf of the Hulton Press 'Farmers' Weekly' magazine for the Bath & West Agricultural Show in Bristol, 1949.

It has all the elements I love - stripes, white metal fretwork, stairs, angled roofs, glamour! So yes, I could live in this, even with the flags (which in my house would each be a primary colour and green for the fourth, with a central motif, like a crown, a pine cone, a palm leaf and a trident. Or something).  And the stripes? Maybe cadmium yellow and white! It's a happy looking building.


Further 1940s Interiors

My lastest finds!

I had a few quiet moments a month or so ago and decided to go looking for some books. Ok, I'll be honest, I was procrastinating. But now I get to reap the rewards, so procrastinating can be worthwhile after all!

Here are my lastest purchases. Apologies for the bad photos. In fact there would have been more but my battery went flat (the camera's, not mine).

I love Taschen - they're great. Where else can you see an entire decade of magazines assembled in one spot? Domus, the worthy Italian publication, from the 1940s - a strong emphasis on the modern, following on from the International style.  I like it, but I'm more in the mood for this:

I love this book. I know I love it, because I already have it! Ugh, I get impulsive when I see something like this and lunge at it. A simple google search would have shown this is the French version. Anyway, pretty cover!  But then THIS arrived. I haven't got this one, and there is so much in it (including a lot of very formal French, which is stretching my memory, a lot), so it is my current favourite. As I said, my battery died, so not so many pics!

So, yes, I am happy with the fruits of my procrastination. Now I just want everything in these books!

A New Obsession


That's all I need to say. Barkcloth. I've been poring over barkcloth samples for the last couple of weeks with a shameless enthusiasm and I can't see my excitement in seeing these beautiful fabrics diminishing in any way. 

Recently, a friend of ours made an amazing skirt out of barkcloth with a scene of deer in a forest. It was gorgeous and she looked swell in this dazzling fabric.  So, it got us thinking...

We have a couple of 1950s TV chairs we would like to have reupholstered and so this started my barkcloth journey/pilgrimage/crusade as we wanted something which melded the 1950s design of the chairs with something a bit older, perhaps a 40s style fabric. Barkcloth was used through the 30s to the 50s for a range of uses but particularly upholstery and curtains.

What particularly appealed to us was the exuberant designs, lavish swirls and feathers, make believe flowers, vivid colours in unexpected combinations.  We also loved the gorgeous modern take on toile, bright scenes of waterfalls, ruins, mansions, forests and yachts. How could anyone resist?

So, here is my first purchase - not even for the chairs! No, this will be for cushions, but look at it!

Apologies for the photo, I whipped it out of its envelope and snapped it as soon as possible!

This fabric is the sort used for curtains along the art deco style hotels of South Beach, Miami in the 1930s, so it doesn't come more highly recommended!

King Penguin Books

An Inspiration

We like to collect stuff and more often than not, our collections come from items made or designed between the wars. Our small, incomplete collection of King Penguin books is an example. We can spot one of these beauties across a room full of aggressive bookworms at a book sale! Printed between 1939 and 1959, the series ran to 76 volumes (sigh) covering a diverse range of topics from the natural world to antiques. The text is usually very worthy but the covers are brilliant! What does that say about me! 

The colours and designs are a rich source of inspiration.  I was going through the books and it made me think of autumn and lying in the grass under falling leaves. I know this might sound like a shameless segue, but it did prompt me to make another batch of our woodsy Arcadia eau de cologne.  Such are the links in daydreamy trails of thought.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

British Reptiles and Amphibia. Edible Fungi. A Book of Ducks. English Ballet.

A night out on the town in the 1940s and 1950s.

Bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes.

Getting a bit tired of the rustic wood and exposed light-bulbs in bars around your town?  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just have a look at this small selection of nightspots from the 1940s and 1950s.  Sure, half of them wouldn't have let the likes of me through their doors but I'm sure anyone going to one of these places was up for a good time!  

Happy New Year to all!

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

The Blue Room at the Chi Chi, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, 1950s.  From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

Les Ambassadeurs at The Diplomat Hotel, Hollywood, Florida, 1950s. From Designing a Good Life, Norman M. Giller and Sarah Giller Nelson.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

The TV Room at Driftwood Motel, Sunny Isles, Florida, 1950s. As above.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   Palm Springs Holiday  , Peter Moruzzi.

Riviera Resort Hotel, Palm Springs, 1950s. From Palm Springs Holiday, Peter Moruzzi.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Del Tahquitz Hotel, Palm Springs, 1940s. As above.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From   The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy  , James R. Harlan.

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs, 1950s. From The Alexanders, a Desert Legacy, James R. Harlan.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From   Impact of Design  , Clive Carney.

The Latin Quarter, Sydney, 1950s. From Impact of Design, Clive Carney.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From   The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister  , Chris Nichols.

Richlor's, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, 1940s. From The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister, Chris Nichols.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From   Havana Before Castro  , Peter Moruzzi.

Tropicana Night Club, Havana, Cuba, 1950s. From Havana Before Castro, Peter Moruzzi.

Royal Adelaide Show

Another extravaganza!

Part of our spring ritual is to visit the Royal Adelaide Show.  When we went yesterday, it was a beautiful clear day, very crowded and full of things to see.  

We always visit the floral displays, the crafts, the baking, the birds and the Grand Parade.  We always buy a freshly squeezed orange juice, buy daffodils from Hancock's and have tea at the CWA cafe.  I look forward to these simple pleasures every year.

This year, it was the 175th anniversary of the Royal Adelaide Show, something I had to think twice about - 175 years?! 

The bonus this year was a stage show put on in the Goyder Pavilion.   "175 Years of Fashion" promised to be an interesting display of costumes from those years, a fashion parade, or so we thought.  It proved to be a dazzlingly camp dance extravaganza of dubious historical accuracy.  The routines, gymnastics and glitter more than made up for the lapses in detail and the show was well received by the audience of city and country folk who crowded around the stage.

I highly recommend a visit.  The show has a rare connection with the past and is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in nostalgia and to eat lots of sugary food.  I even love the promotional campaign for the show this year.  It has collage, old photographs and flowers - of course I love it!   Here it is;

1940s Interiors

A photo survey

There are so many wonderful image collections out there, on flickr, pintrest and the like, but it is surprisingly difficult to come across images of interiors from the 1940s.

My interest in 1940s interiors is a personal one, that is, I'm looking for inspiration for our home, so I have put together a short(ish) collection of scanned images from some of our books and magazines, which I think is worth sharing here.  This selection follows on from an earlier post on 1940s fabrics.

The images are mostly of fairly modest homes, a reasonable starting point since we're not likely to be in a position to furnish our home with Andre Arbus anytime soon (which reminds me, I need to speak to those lotto people about this on-going issue...) and I have selected them because each one has a particular feature or finish that interests me.

And why the 1940s?  Well, it's hard to pinpoint, but I'm very fond of art deco, streamline moderne and post-war modernism and the 1940s is the in-between point of these styles.  It's a place where there is a way to blend the otherwise very distinctive and opposing styles spanning either side of the second world war, and that's great for me and my partner and our eclectic tastes.  So, here we are:

1. Textiles: Stroheim & Romann. Ceramics: Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Co. Ltd.  From 'Furnishing the Small Home' - Margaret Merivale (1945).
2. Fireplace treatment. Designer: W. Curtis Green R.A. ibid
3. Room detail. Joseph Aronson. ibid.
4. Studio room by Helen Park. ibid.
5. Room detail.  Oliver Hill. ibid.
6. Dining room, Bowman's Ltd, London.  From 'Design in Every Day Things' - Australian Broadcasting Commission (1941).
7. Hand woven woollen materials by Catherine Hardess of Melbourne. ibid. 
8. Living room of Miss Patricia Detring, Bel Air. Designer: Paul T. Frankl Associates.  From 'The Studio Year Book.  Decorative Art 1943-1948' - ed. Rathbone Holme & Kathleen M. Frost.
9. Scale model of living room.  Designer: Edward D. Stone. ibid. 
10. Japanese pavilion, World's Fair, Paris 1937.  Designer: Junzo Sakakura.  From 'Furniture & Interiors of the 1940s' - Anne Bony (2002).
11. Shangri-La Hotel 1939-1940.  Photographer: Julius Schulman. ibid.
Jolly Hockeysticks

Some time ago, I was fortunate enough to come across a bunch of autograph books at a local market.  

The books date from between 1935 and 1941 and document a series of interstate trips taken by schoolgirls and their teachers.  I gather they were travelling to compete in sporting events.  Here, one girl has collected a photographic memento of her trip, collecting the photographs of her pals and escorts and filling the books with signatures, addresses and cute little notes.  It really is a lovely collection, you can sense the girls' excitement and this is sometimes displayed in the way they sit for their photographs.

I have my favourites, including one girl by the name of Elvey, who seems quite mischievous.  You can see her pulling a face in the montage below.  She is in most of the books and you get to see her grow.  By the later books, she is one of the 'trainers', proudly displaying her carefully curled hair.


The gloriously sweeping theme tune to Laura (1944), which starred bad boy Dana Andrews and the impossibly beautiful Gene Tierney.  Composed by David Raksin.  Lyrics later added by Johnny Mercer.  Compare the instrumental from the movie with the 1952 Billy Eckstine version below.   Dreamy.

Laura by Johnny Mercer & Billy Eckstine on Grooveshark
Fabric design from the 1940s - in colour!

These distinctly sophisticated and playful designs are a treat to see in full colour.

 A "Top left, Celanese satin, screen printed in a design by Margaret Moore. Top right, 'Shiraz' - a cotton and rayon fadeless tapestry designed by John Tandy.  Bottom, 'Bird' design by E. Winning Reed on an art silk and cotton material" from "30s 40s Decorative Art" - a source book edited by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, (Tashchen). 

B "Furnishing fabrics designed by Jacqueline Groag, M.S.I.A., the top two for Hill Brown Ltd and the lower for F.W.Grafton & Co. Ltd." ibid.

C "Bonbonniere of faience, designed by Stig Lindberg and made by Gustavsberg's Studio, on a background of hand-printed glass-cloth named 'Maytime' by the same artist, printed by Textil Kammaren, Nordiska Kompaniet, Stokholm." ibid.

D "Textiles designed by Margaret Simeon.  Left: Screen-printed linen and Right: Screen-printed furnishing satin, both produced by John Lewis & Co Ltd. Centre: Block-printed muslin printed by the designer. Vase designed by Nils Thorsson with 'Clair de Lune' glaze created by the late H. Madslund for The Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Co. Ltd." ibid.

E "Top and centre: 'Burntwood/Moorfield' rayon designed by Jane Edgar and 'Hurstwood/Alvis' cotton fabric designed by D.M. Batty, both made by Helios Ltd.  Lower: Cotton damask by Old Bleach Linen Co. Ltd." ibid.

F "Corner of a lounge in a London flat by Ian Henderson.  The fire-surround is in Australian walnut, the opening itself being framed in Japanese chestnut.  Curtains printed in two shades of red with a line of [black] on a cream ground, and upholstery in a rough textured weave.  Occasional table in Australian walnut with a cane shelf which doubles its utility without adding to its weight."  from Decorative Art 1943-48 The Studio Year Book.  (The Studio Year Books were the source for the illustrations in the Tashchen publication referred to above.)

G "Two curtain fabrics designed by Margaret Simeon; the floral pattern is a cotton textile with block-printed motif, made for John Lewis & Co Ltd.  The pink and white design is a screen-printed linen, made by Allan Walton Textiles Ltd." ibid. 

H An extract from an advertisement for the 'Old Glamis' range of fabrics by Donald Bros Ltd.  The fabric design is named "Goodwood" and is a 50 inch screen-printed linen in 5 colours. ibid.

Further resources: 
"Furniture & Interiors of the 1940s" - Anne Bony (Flammarion)
"Ponti" - Graziella Roccella (Taschen)