Oh, So English


Pilkington Royal Lancastrian English Art Deco Vase with Mottled Blue, Aqua and Creamy Yellow Glazes (LEO Design)


Much of the time, Art Deco styling is expressed with streamlined shapes, sharp edges and dynamic color combinations.  Art Deco was Modern, Futuristic, Ready-for-the-Space-Age. Rocket ships and airplanes symbolized this fast and forceful promise.  And Art Deco was wildly popular—incorporated into all manner of design, from architecture to toaster plugs.

This vocabulary of Art Deco crispness certainly was employed in British design.  But, over the years, I've noticed a distinct and specific version of English Art Deco—a sub category—which is a little gentler, a little rounder, a little more subtle than its typical American sibling.  In this English variety, designers "softened" the typically crisp Art Deco features.  

Consider those English enameled metal signs from the Thirties, like one might see on the Tube or at a railway station.  Rather than sharp corners, they might have softly-rounded angles. The colors might be soft brown and cream, not silver and navy blue.  And the type-font might be a static, "International" sans-serif rather than a dynamic, forward-leaning, streamlined choice—bursting with movement and energy.  

Reproduction English Art Deco Railway Sign


The enameled metal sign, shown above, is a good example of such a sign.  It is a contemporary reproduction of a Thirties British Railway sign which I found on the internet (which is customizable - click here for more info).  Although it is Art Deco, it embraces the "softer, rounder" variety of the movement: shape, color and attitude.

The English Art Deco vase, shown at top, was made by Pilkington Royal Lancastrian in the Thirties.  Note the gentle curves and the dappled, soft pastel colors: sky blue, soft aqua, creamy yellow.  It represents the softer, gentler version of Art Deco which I sometimes find in British design of the Thirties.  Click on the photo at top to learn more about it.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com)

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248