That Ol' Thirties Feeling...


Beswick English Art Deco Large Aqua Pitcher with "Dripping" Sponged Cornflower Blue Glazing (LEO Design)


British design from the Thirties—the English Art Deco movement—has a certain comforting "roundness" to it.  Whether looking at graphics (like period Underground transit signage) or industrial design (like electrical household appliances) or ceramics works (like the decorative pitcher above), the British take on Art Deco mass production seems to have accentuated the "softer side" of the movement.  Other countries, France and America come to mind, communicated a more angular, streamlined and "bold future progressiveness" in their Art Deco design—which is beautiful, futuristic and hopeful. English Art Deco—with its gentle plumpness, soothing colors, and the safety of no sharp corners—often puts me into a warm, relaxed and nostalgic mood.

The "vase" above, fashioned in the form of a large pitcher, bears a softly-overinflated appearance—distended ever so slightly—which creates a gentle energy to the silhouette. An oversized spout, reminiscent of a fat penguin's beak, adds a slightly awkward, zoomorphic peculiarity.  And the soft glazing—an aqua underglaze topped with a lightly hand-sponged cornflower blue—completes the soothing presentation.

The piece, shown above, was made by Beswick in the 1930's.  The company was founded in 1854 in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent—a geographic center of British ceramics production. James Beswick (and his sons, John and Gilbert) sought to produce affordable tablewares and decorative objects (which originally included Staffordshire dogs and cats).  In the 1930's, with the company now under the leadership of the founder's grandson (John Ewart Beswick), the company began to vigorously produce realistic, painted porcelain animals which has become the maker's best-known items.

Click on the photo above to learn more about this striking—and comforting—"statement piece."


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 Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or 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