For the Want of Handcraft

Pompeian Bronze-Clad and Polychromed Bookends with Bas Relief Scribes (LEO Design)


One of the things I dislike about Modernist architecture is its lack of beautiful handcraft—those hand-fashioned details which are the evidence that a human artisan had touched and built it.  Masonry.  Stone carving.  Tile work.  Back in the Art Deco Thirties, architects and builders still honored the artistic craftsmanship which gives a building its soul.

The builders of Rockefeller Center—constructed during the dark years of the Great Depression—still managed to fund the artwork, the human handicraft, which makes the building special.  Inside the building, frescoes by accomplished and famous artists decorate the public spaces: lobbies, hallways and stairwells.  Outside, inlaid, painted bas relief panels honor the spirit of industry, commerce, trade work and progress.  These exterior Art Deco panels are the aesthetic cousins of the handsome bas relief bookends, shown above.

Two scribes—seated but hunched within their rectangular confines—write busily upon the tablets on their laps.  A tunnel of trees leads to a promising pastoral scene, behind.  The bronze-cladding has been finished in a golden bronze patina, hand polychromed which lasts to this day.  Click on the photo above to learn more about this handsome and stylish pair of bookends.


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 (

 We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

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