Desiring the Deco

Here at O.W.L. we’re clearly quite taken with the NGV’s Melbourne Winter Masterpieces theme this year. One of the things – just one – I fell in love with when I saw the Art Deco exhibition was the crockery set Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Imperial Hotel in Japan.

Image from the 2006 Taschen design calendar, via Narisa on Flickr.

As well as the hotel building itself, he designed some lovely things to fill and furnish it, including lovely blue armchairs, this striking yellow chair and the dinnerware pictured above. I read somewhere that the design of the cups was intended to hide the lipstick stains of (right-handed) ladies in those terrible days before indelible lipstick existed, which sounds very sensible but also a little bit like rubbish – the academic in me needs a reputable citation before I go believing that.

Thanks to modern manufacturers and the internet, I can now have a genuine reproduction set for myself – just US$48 for a set of four plate or mugs at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation online store. Sadly the reproduction mugs are not as nice as the original cups, so I may have to bid on a full 56-piece original set, as soon as I find myself US$3000 or so.

Art Deco exhibition at the NGV
Still on – until October 5
Open every day 10am-5pm (open until 9pm on Wednesdays)
More info: Arwen’s write up

:: Kate ::



Filed under Exhibitions, Home sweet home decor

3 responses to “Desiring the Deco

  1. I borrowed this book – — from the library. It’s a fascinating read about his graphic design work. Quick read, interesting pieces on his personal life that makes you want to read more and some beautiful pages of design.

  2. Ack, what a pity I won’t see this exhibition in person! Stunning crockery, thanks for sharing.

  3. Ooh, thanks for the tip Katie – even the cover of that book is gorgeous! I’ll check it out. I’ve always loved FLW’s stuff, and I’m constantly surprised by new things – it’s incredible just how much he’s done, don’t you think?

    Maude, don’t fret! Maybe there are some stunning Art Deco buildings in KL that you don’t notice until you really look? One part of the NGV exhibition is a slideshow of buildings, both local and international (many still standing), built very much à la Art Deco. It made me appreciate some very cool buildings I had previously only momentarily admired in passing.


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