A Collection of Art Deco Bookends

There’s something so right about the combination of Asian imagery and art deco design, and these bookends by the famed French sculptor Pierre Ernest Bouret demonstrate why.  Asian design has a long heritage of minimalism paired with natural qualities, so in many cases, art deco is a kind of modern take on that same design philosophy that the Japanese and Chinese in particular have mastered over centuries.  The bold use of scarlet red pays tribute to the classic look of Chinese carved cinnabar lacquer, and make these art deco bookends especially unique.  The patina, especially on the male figure is spectacular and adds a tremendous rich quality as well.

Available at Paul Stamati in New York.Chinese Art Deco Bookends

As much as art deco embraces naturalist themes and often simply abstracts something beautiful from nature, every now and then only the defiantly machine-age will do.  These ultra-modern bookends fit the bill nicely; the hard black steel and bright nickel finish create a wonderful contrast, while the circular and spherical elements soften their look just enough to work in a home setting as well as an office.  Despite the hard quality to the design, there’s something really friendly about this piece that particularly appeals.  These were designed by the incomparable Walter Von Nessen, a famed modernist who immigrated from Germany to New York in the 20s, and is perhaps best known for his work with lamps.

Available at Lush Life in Dallas, Texas.  Modernist Bookends

I completely love the chunky, raw quality to these art deco bookends, but while they might look like weighty granite, they’re actually ceramic with a trompe l’oeil glaze.  Look closely and you can see the craquelure surface on the top of the pieces.  The geometric sensibility is classic to Marcel Guillard, the famed French designer who made these, and hundreds of other pieces at the height of the art deco period.  There’s so much to love about these – the jousting riders, the delicate, exaggerated hilt on the sword, the bulbous shield, the clean, sweeping design lines, even the thin legs of the riders with their pointy feet add such a rich layer of interest.  These are sadly quite pricey, otherwise I’d have them on my own shelf and I’d be just as likely to admire the bookends as contemplate a book from the shelf!

Available at Kelly Gallery in New York.  bookend4

These jewel-like art deco bookends of cut glass aren’t antiques at all, in fact they’re more hot-off-the-presses from the expert glassmakers at Ghiro Studio in Italy, but that doesn’t diminish their appeal at all in my book.  As any follower of this site can tell by now, I’m a huge fan of asymmetric design and these irregular pieces are perfect examples of why this approach to design works so well.  The haphazard facets catch your eye and add a layer of beauty to something that’s otherwise quite basic.  These would be ideal to hold my collection of vintage cocktail and modern cocktail books; they’re perfectly reminiscent of perfectly clear, sculpted ice.

Available at Lost City Arts in New York. Green Cut Glass Art Deco Bookends

These polar bear art deco bookends are a bit worn around the edges, but it gives them some undeniable character.  The real appeal for me though are the sleek, bronze bears.  Polar bears are a recurring animal in art deco design that you can find in cocktail shakers, ceramic figures, and other classic pieces.  They work nicely because they have a clean and modern look but still seem warm and friendly.  Of course, that’s not what I would expect if I were to actually face one of these ferocious creatures in the wild, but from a design perspective they’re a great marriage of naturalism and minimalism.

Available at Art Deco Collection.com  Polar Bear Art Deco Bookends

Faux Malachite Wingback Chairs

When you woke up this morning, you didn’t know what was missing from your life, but surely you know now; faux malachite wingback chairs.  In the world of faux stone, I can’t say that I really put fabric upholstery at the top of my list, but these are nothing short of hypnotic – or maybe I should say, psychedelic, even though malachite as a motif is quite ancient.

Of course, I’m not sure if it’s hypnotic in a good sense, or if it’s more like watching a train wreck that you can’t take your eyes away from.  I still haven’t made my mind up, but these were too striking not to post.  These feel like the kind of ‘experts only’ piece that you’d really have to know how to work with.  Perhaps they’d look great is a really minimalist and neutral space, where they could be the uncontested center of attention.  Or, I can also see them working in a completely over the top space jam packed with interesting things and misfits, where they would feel right at home.

Malachite, as many of you will already know, is a greenish mineral of copper that has a long history for its use in decorative objects.  The Egyptians carried malachite amulets, and even ground it into a powder they used for eye shadow.  It was also quite popular in Russia during the 18th century, when it was also used for jewelry until a large deposit was found in the Ural Mountains, and they started facing tables and columns with it.

Today, you typically see malachite as an accent to a larger piece like gilt clocks, mirror frames, the base to small statuary, obelisks, veneered boxes, and things of that nature, though even now and again you see some designer who really goes for it and makes something massive and in your face with the material.  For example, the famed interior designer Tony Duquette produced a rug that looked like a solid sheet of malachite back in the 70s that was perfect for his ‘More is More’ aesthete.

malachite chairs


malachite chair 2

Available at Modern Drama 20th Century Arts in Chicago.

Gilded Age Art Deco Screen

Much like the maligned mobile, you don’t see many screens as an element of decor in many homes these days, but I’m not really sure why they ever fell out of favor.  For one, they’re often a beautiful way to divide up a room; whether it’s to hide a cluttered desk, a wet bar, or serve another cozy purpose.  I think you can also take a bolder risk with a screen than you would with drapery or wallpaper.  It’s not quite as permanent and overpowering because of it’s smaller footprint in a room, and the fact that it’s so easily moved.

So while this particular art deco screen employs the ultra-luxe materials of weathered gilt and black lacquer, it’s not the sort of thing that pushes a room into a tacky, bachelor pad territory.  In fact, I find it quite elegant in the way it has such a hard, flat surface balanced with very organic and playful imagery.  You might say this Art Deco screen couldn’t quite leave Art Nouveau behind, but is a piece in transition.  It has just enough of that touch of whimsy to be fun, even though it looks quite regal and serious on first glace.  It reminds me of the mashup of spirals and geometric shapes in Gustav Klimpt’s masterpiece mosaic, the Tree of Life, which sadly resides in the completely stunning yet closed-to-the-public – or shall I say, withheld from the public – Palais Stoclet in Brussels.

With luck, we’ll see the sage room screen make a return to glory – it sure seems like a category ripe for innovation.  Screens are about as simple as you can get from a construction point of view, so they are a perfect canvas for designers and artists to showcase their work without having to get the specialized skills of a carpenter or upholsterer.

Gilded Art Deco Screen



Available at Galleria d’Epoca in Miami

The Great Gatsby

I think we can all agree, the Great Gatsby is going to be fucking amazing.  In just a few short weeks, the long wait will be over and we’ll be regaled with a meticulously curated, high-budget, historically embellished spectacle of Art Deco grandeur.  A classic story, an incredible cast, can hardly contain my excitement!

In addition to the film itself, there are some pretty interesting collaborations happening that embrace the period and are worth looking at – including Brooks Brothers, which has looks from the film on the shelf, as well as Tiffany, which is selling Jazz Age jewelry.  That’s to say nothing of the soundtrack, which I think will be one of the albums of the year, courtesy of Jay-Z.  God bless you, Baz Luhrman.

Futuristic Art Deco Table Lamps

Mallet never fails to impress – these spectacular table lamps are absolute showstoppers.  These lamps are quite sleek with such a vertical profile and I especially like the angular, electricity iconography in the tube frame.  It’s almost like three bolts are leaping from the base to the lightening rod finial.  Unfortunately, like all wonderful things from this dealer, they require some deep pockets.  Prepare to commit.

Available at the incomparable Mallet in London.

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