Art Deco is synonymous with “luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in social and technological progress” and the period between the two world wars is considered to be the pinnacle of this artistic trend but its origins can be attributed to the beginning of the century and with the development of Cubism, Futurism and Modernism.
The label ‘Art Deco’ was adopted after comments written in 1925 by the French architect Le Corbusier regarding an exhibition entitled ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ which showcased new ideas in applied arts.
New York is home to iconic Art Deco architecture such as The Empire State Building (1931), Rockefeller Centre (1930), The Chrysler Building (1930) and Waldorf Astoria (1931) and these buildings are internationally recognised. However, London has its own fair share of excellent examples of the distinctive style and a few of these sights can be included in a leisurely day-trip to the capital city from your base at Springwood.
On the outskirts of London you could easily spend the whole day at Eltham Palace. Henry VIII’s Tudor palace was restored in 1933 by Stephen and Virginia Courtauld creating a modern elaborate home with sumptuous art deco interiors which include an extravagant entrance hall with domed glass roof and curved wood-lined walls, a panelled dining room and gold bathroom.
Consider the architecture of Battersea Power Station (1936) on the south bank of the Thames. Battersea is an icon of 1930s industrial splendour but its interior is even more stunning with fittings and decorations, including Italian white marble wall tiles and parquet flooring. It is currently under-going an extensive (and controversial) re-development to include shops, cafes, restaurants, art and leisure facilities, office space and residential accommodation of 800 homes.
What could be more iconic than the British Broadcasting Company? Broadcasting House, Portland Place in the West End was opened in 1932 and is a Grade II listed building; it was designed by George Val Myer and the iconic sculptures of Prospero & Ariel by Eric Gill, renown sculptor or the Arts and Craft movement, are situated over the front entrance: Ariel, from Shakedpeare’s The Tempest, as a spirit of the air was felt to be an appropriate personification of broadcasting. The BBBc’s Reception is still the original 1930s and has been carefully maintained and restored, in collaboration with English Heritage. “The foyer is a fine example of art deco design with classic lantern lighting, columns made of Hopton-Wood marble and the original 1932 paint colour”.
Why not book into an official tour of Broadcasting House? The tour takes approximately 90 minutes at a cost of £15.00 and encompasses not only the architecture of the original building but also the history of national (and international!) broadcasting and the new media-centre development. Please note: advance booking are a prerequisite.
Less than a mile away is another iconic Art Deco landmark – the luxurious Mayfair hotel, Claridge’s. Although the hotel dates back to the nineteenth century it was given extensive modernisation in the 1920’s by the pioneering architect Basil Ionides who concentrated on re-designing the restaurant and several suites, and Oswald Milne designed the main entrance and foyer and then in the 1930’s a building extension was added: “With its simple cubic outline, the tall brick block stands in both contrast and harmony with the main hotel building. Inside, Milne created a fine suite of reception rooms and guestrooms furnished with smart, eclectic style.”
Claridge’s has maintained its artistic affinity and in 1996 underwent restoration and the foyer was updated by architect Thierry Despont, with reference to archive photographs from the 1930’s, in modern Art Deco style:
Book Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s: “The huge sparkling Chihuly light sculpture and grand art deco of the Foyer transforms this Mayfair restaurant into a magical dining space, whilst the inviting banquettes of the Reading Room allow for more intimate dining; it’s the perfect venue for a light meal, sipping cocktails and the best afternoon tea in London”.
We would recommend that you start your day with breakfast in the Art Deco surroundings of Springwood and complement it with Afternoon Tea at Claridges! What could be better??
BBC Broadcasting House
To make an Afternoon Tea reservation: Call: +44 (0)20 7107 8886