My "Aesthetic Heart" lies firmly in the Mid-Nineteenth to Early Twentieth Centuries—a 100 year period including the Gothic Revival, the Aesthetic Movement, the Art Nouveau (including the various Arts & Crafts movements) and ending with the Art Deco movement between the wars. High-end Art Deco can be sublime, every bit as craft-intensive as the earlier movements. But what gave the Art Deco movement traction, making it so widespread, was the fact that it was well-suited to modern mass production methods—which allowed large quantities of goods to be manufactured quickly, with reduced human handcraft. A growing Middle Class in the Twentieth Century had disposable income for the first time and they wanted to buy a few nice things (as long as they were affordable). Industry and economic conditions coincided to hyper-charge global manufacturing—just as the Art Deco movement found itself at High Noon.
During this period I love (roughly 1840 - 1940), industrialists were able to combine great design with high quality and mass-production. If a homeowner wanted to put-up a fence around her garden, she could buy handsome cast iron fencing—tasteful, durable and heavy, yet mass-produced—which might last a few hundred years (given proper preventive care). The affordable solution was also a (fairly) permanent solution. Today, try going to a big box store to asses the quality, weight and aesthetics of mass-produced fencing. You will leave sorely disappointed. I lament that customers are no longer given the option of finding and buying first class mass-produced items anymore. Instead of buying a mailbox with a 200 year lifespan, we must content ourselves with one that might have a 20 year lifespan.
The porcelain ashtray, shown above, exhibits the best of clean, Art Deco design with quality industrial mass-manufacturing. Like so many heavy porcelain furnishings of the period—sinks, light sockets, toileting fixtures—this piece could serve handsomely for decades, perhaps centuries. And it was made with modern industrial manufacturing methods which meant that it could be afforded by the masses. To learn more about this piece, please click on the photo above.
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 Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or 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