- Meet some of the people behind the society and find out what it is about Art Deco that inspires them.
- Name: Angharad Hart
Occupation: Senior Conservation Officer at Greater Cambridge Shared Planning and Editorial Assistant for the Construction History Society journal.
Role in Art Deco Society UK: East Anglia Representative
Why do you love Art Deco?: Art Deco is beautiful, engaging and accessible. It appeals to so many and can be found across the world; a symbol of our shared global social, architectural and economic history. It shines out to me as a time where production, building and construction were not just about cost and deadlines. It was also about pride, optimism, quality craftsmanship and producing something beautiful that would enrich people’s lives; from a tea set or a superbly crafted chair to the hundreds of Art Deco theatres and cinemas or high-reaching commercial skyscrapers of New York. Art Deco just makes life better!
What is your favourite Art Deco place?: Without doubt, it is the Chrysler Building in New York. The stunningly beautiful exterior is just part of its splendour. Inside, the lobby is a rich and evoking cavern of marble, which almost seems to be aflame, and transports you to another world far away from the hustle and bustle of New York. It is quiet and serene; an oasis of calm in the heart of the City.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer?: I would have to say Bix Beiderbecke or Lee Morse
What is your favourite film? Like music, my film tastes are varied. I am a glutton for chick-lit, comedy and Christmas films. Pretty much anything set in New York or in the snow, or better still involving both, gets my vote. That said, I do enjoy an old classic and Genevieve and The Great Race are a brilliant Sunday afternoon watch. I also love a bit of fantasy and the Harry Potter films, Twilight Saga and Mortal Instruments are my guilty pleasures.
What is your favourite book? “New York: The Wonder City, 1932” by W Parker Chase is my most prized literary possession.
Do you collect anything? I’m not really an avid collector as such, but my collection of books on Art Deco architecture just seems to keep growing. Whenever I see one, I have to have it.
What are your hobbies? Travelling, visiting art galleries (especially early 20th century art), reading, a good film, cooking, watching live bands, dancing, riding my bike and pub quizzes.
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? South Beach, Miami – I am gradually working my way around the US and this is most definitely next on my list: although many of the iconic hotels are more modernist and streamline modern than strictly Art Deco.
- Name: Rama Muraleetharan
Role: London Representative
Why do you love Art Deco?: It’s just one of those styles that has always made me stop and stare; there’s nothing quite like it. Sumptuous lines with elegant finishes; an aesthetic that can make even the most ordinary of structures stand out with stunning opulence.
Favourite Art Deco place?: Radio City Music Hall and “Highbury”, the old Arsenal Stadium. The former for its ability to astound and captivate audiences, the latter for my brilliant childhood memories.
Who are your favourite 1920s/30s performers?: Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Fred Astaire. In recent times, Alex Mendham and His Orchestra have done a fantastic job of evoking the spirit and charm of that wonderful era.
What are your hobbies?: I co-founded and chair my hometown’s Residents’ Association. From creating a community garden to hosting movie nights and a town bake-off, it has been thoroughly enjoyable bringing my neighbours together these past few years. I also collect vintage American comics (DC and Marvel). Finding rare Golden Age issues is always difficult, but over the years I have ticked off a few grails from my list. I liken it to holding a piece of history in your hands.
Are you working on any projects now?: I am leading my local community in a major restoration project; the acquisition and restoration of the former Embassy Cinema. Built in the mid-30s, it is one of the last remaining Art Deco cinemas left in East London/West Essex. Our intention is to faithfully restore the building back into a cultural venue; an independent arthouse cinema with the capacity to present new release and repertory films, alongside performing and live arts, with café bar facilities and a reinstated Compton cinema organ. The Embassy Cinema would once again be the epicentre of Chadwell Heath’s district centre; a highly regarded landmark that is stewarded by the local community, for the local community.
East London itself has a surprising amount of unprotected Art Deco and Modernist structures that have been left neglected; I intend to do all I can to raise their profile and let them be celebrated, whilst working with local authorities to find ways to grant them new leases of life.
- Name: Christie Collins
Occupation: Presently, I’m a PhD student in Creative and Critical Writing at Cardiff University. Before moving to the UK, I was an English instructor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Role in Art Deco Society UK: Wales Representative
Why do you love Art Deco? I originally fell in love with Art Deco through reading prose and poetry from the time period. But, I’ve grown to also be a nerd for the clothes and costumes of the interwar period. I find the era’s fashion to be such a fun, liberating break from the periods that preceded it.
What is your favourite Art Deco place? Here in Wales, I’d have to say the Penarth Pier Pavilion.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer? I don’t have one in particular, but I love traditional New Orleans jazz.
What is your favourite book? It might be a cliché to say, but definitely The Great Gatsby. The novel teems with Art Deco preoccupations and grandeur. Also, the prose is poetic, and the story is both heartbreaking but also timeless and emotionally true.
Do you collect anything? I buy books printed in the 1920s/1930s when I have the opportunity. Also, I’ve started collecting Art Deco era accessories when I find one I like and think I can use.
What are your hobbies? Right now, it feels like thesis writing is my only hobby, haha. But, I also love reading, writing, art projects, photography, and traveling.
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? Right now I’d say the National Tobacco Company in Napier, New Zealand. The building’s front entrance is such a gorgeous, colorful example of Art Deco design.
Have you been working on any projects recently? I’ve just completed a collection of poems titled “THE ART OF COMING UNDONE,” which will be out with Eyewear Press in 2021.
- Name: Lucy Jane Santos
Occupation: Writer and Historical Association Manager
Why do you like Art Deco? I originally trained as an Egyptian Archaeologist but became really interested in how ancient Egypt was portrayed in the twentieth century. From there it was a quick jump to obsession with Egyptomania and now I concentrate on twentieth century history in general.
Do you collect anything? Ok, this always makes me sound weird but I actually collect quack medicine objects. I have just finished writing a book on the use of radium in consumer products and have amassed a huge collection including Nutex Radium Condoms, Ra-Ba-Sa (Radium Bath Salts), and Frederick Godfrey’s Renair Radioactive Hair Tonic.
Who are your favourite stage and film Stars? Has to be Carole Lombard – and not just because she starred in a film that has a plot line about radium poisoning (Nothing Sacred)
Favourite Artists: Right now am reading a lot about Lee Miller and very interested in 1930s photography.
Favourite books: For work I read a lot of historical books and now am hoovering up anything to do with prohibition and the cocktail scene in London of the 1920s and 30s.
Favourite Art Deco building: When I first went to University I lived across the street from Senate House and wandering around that part of London is still a favourite. Senate House always takes my breath away.
Are you working on any projects now: I am working on combination recipe/history about cocktails. The original plan was to visit the places that I am writing about but obviously that is not possible at the moment. I did manage to get a fascinating tour of the Savoy earlier in the year so that will have to sustain me for now.
Name: Genista Davidson
Why do you like Art Deco?Because it makes me smile and very happy. From a young age I felt an affinity to buildings and beautiful objects in the Art Deco style and Streamline Moderne, not forgetting Egyptian Revival, the list can go on and on. It fascinates me the cacophony of styles that fall within Art Deco. It’s a never ending world of discovery that brings me much pleasure.
Do you collect anything?Oh yes, it’s rather addictive as I’m sure many of you will know. I now only collect memorabilia from the 1925 Paris Exposition des Art Decoratifs, that way I can focus on a niche area and the items are small.
Who are your favourite stage and film Stars?Josephine Baker, Anna May Wong, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo.
Favourite Artists: Tamara de Lempicka, Fortunato Depero, Eric Ravilious and Eric Gill.
Favourite books: Usually a reference book on Art Deco or a biography from the period I just finished reading ‘Chaplin’s Girl’ by Miranda Seymour. Another entertaining read are the books by Beatrice Burton, which include ‘The Flapper Wife’, ‘Footloose’ and ‘Love Bound’.
Favourite Art Deco building: I don’t have one definitive favourite building, however, I do have a top ten which includes among them the Egyptian Revival Carreras Cigarette Factory, Eltham Palace, Daily Express Building on Fleet Street London and the Midland Hotel Morecambe.
What Art Deco Place do you want to visit next? India and Israel have been on my list for a long while. Obviously, during the current situation travel is highly restricted so I will have to wait a little longer. This will make the journey even more special, whenever that may be!
Name: Garry Ashton-Coulton
Occupation:25 years as a magazine designer, working on titles a diverse as Penthouse and Plastics and Rubber Weekly! Now working as a postman loving the fresh air and exercise!
Role in Art Deco Society UK: South East Representative
Why do you love Art Deco? I love the form, the function and the spirit of the era it represents in it’s embracing of the ‘machine age’.
Sitting on my deco furniture is like sitting on a little time machine… image the stories.
What is your favourite Art Deco place? Eltham Palace entrance Hall, just sublime…Marine Court flats, at Leonard’s on sea… Just a majestic statement, beautiful and bold, rising from the sea like an ocean liner at the dock.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer? I love big band jazz and swing especially Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, and Fletcher Henderson
What is your favourite book? My all time favourite is Germinal by Zola so moving and raw. I’m also very fond of the Aubrey / Maturin novels of Patrick O’brien set in the times of Nelsons Navy. Full of fun adventure and wonderful details.
Do you collect anything? Oh dear, too many things, Deco furniture and objects, men’s clothing 1930s-50s, and vintage safety razors.
What are your hobbies? I cycle, garden, lots of boring stuff, take the dog for walks. When I worked for an equestrian magazine I used to ride, I’ve galloped a shire horse around Lingfield Park, and practised horseback archery.
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? I’d love to go to St Petersburg, Russia, and New York to see the Chrysler Building and the Empire State
Name: Lorna McCulloch
Occupation: I’ve had a range of occupations, but the most recent is Business Management Consultant. I’ve previously been an Adult Literacy Community Worker and owned by own retro cycling clothes business
Role in Art Deco Society UK: One of the Scottish Reps
Why do you love Art Deco?: It just makes me happy – I love that it looks simple, but has lots of intricate detail if you look more closely. I particularly love moderne style.
What is your favourite Art Deco place?: I’m not sure I have a favourite. My favourite thing is coming unexpectedly across an art deco building while wandering.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer?: In terms of aesthetics, Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo, and Katharine Hepburn is just magnificent.
What is your favourite film? I love a b movie and I’m really into comedy horror movies, as well as hollywood classics.
What is your favourite book? As a book lover, I find that impossible to answer! I think my top 3 are Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. My favourite genre is golden age detective fiction and my favourite authors are Agatha Christie, Terry Pratchett and Margaret Attwood.
Do you collect anything? – no, I’m not a collector
What are your hobbies? Reading, sewing, dancing, vintage fashion, travel
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? Ocean Drive, Miami South Beach
Name: Lauren Livesey
Occupation: Up until December I was an assistant headteacher, currently I’m taking a career break to raise my daughter.
Role in Art Deco Society UK: Secretary and Regional Reps coordinator
Why do you love Art Deco? I don’t have a job to do with Art Deco, nor do I have any qualifications or affiliations, I am simply a common admirer of its refinement, beauty and individuality. This has been deepened along the way through personal experiences, particularly a trip to Miami.
What is your favourite Art Deco place? This is a difficult one but I’ll whittle it down to three that I’ve seen firsthand: Burgh Island, the Lalique carriage on the Orient Express and Miami – specifically the repurposed buildings of Lincoln Road Mall and the Venetian Pool.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer? I love a bit of jazz whilst I’m pottering about; I’m currently educating my daughter with a bit of Sidney Bechet. On a more modern front, but with echoes of deco, I love Scott Bradley’s Postmodern Jukebox which gives modern songs the vintage twist.
What is your favourite book? I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie due to her plots, settings and characters, although, dare I say, sometimes I find her actual storytelling quite plain (don’t shoot me!) A popular one, but I love ‘And Then There Were None’ but perhaps my favourite is ‘Death Comes As The End’ which has none of her famous sleuths and is set in Ancient Egypt. I will also read anything by J. Jefferson Farjeon, Josephine Tey, Elizabeth Gaskell, Geoffrey Household’s ‘Rogue Male’, any of the British Library’s crime classics, Philip Pullman and from a child’s point of view, any of Marcia Williams’ illustrated tales which are a great way for kids to access and become interested in history.
Do you collect anything? Clichéd, but memories, photos of great UK Art Deco buildings on my Instagram account, Agatha Christie’s works and the odd teacup & saucer here and there.
What are your hobbies? Err, I’m a bookworm 👆🏼I’m also a member of my local amdram group but this is now mainly offstage or as a dancer. But, by far my favourite thing to do is a long dog walk with my two dogs (Darcy and Agatha) with either a pub lunch or a cream tea thrown in for good measure. (I’m really missing this at the moment 😢)
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? There are many places I’d like to see, but nothing thrills me more than rounding a corner and seeing an Art Deco building in an unusual/ unexpected place, then discovering and reading everything I can about it.
Role in ADSUK
Vice President, responsible for marketing and social media
Why Do You Love Art Deco:
It isn’t just the unique and instantly recognisable style and its elegance but the era in which it has its roots. Also, it is something beyond the visual elements of design; abstract art, avant-garde magazines and advertising, surrealist photography, Modernist architecture and the cars, fashion, films and music that define a period of time when everything exuded style so effortlessly.
Favourite Art Deco place:
There are so many to name; in the UK it would have to be the Hoover Factory, Eltham Palace or Midland Hotel. Elsewhere I’ve seen Villa Empain (Brussels), Chrysler building (New York) and the amazing Teatro Eden in Lisbon.
Favourite ’20s or ’30s performer:
It is unfair to have to name one as my tastes are very varied and depend on what mood I’m in so I will cheat and say that on my current playlist is the following: Mistinguett, Rina Ketty, Maria Tănase, Lew Stone, Django Reinhardt, Cleo Brown and Al Bowlly,
I don’t often go for gooey Hollywood movies and prefer the atmosphere of silents or more avant-garde productions. I’d say The Black Cat, Cobra, Underground, L’Argent, M, Vampry or Metropolis would be my go to film list
I’m usually reading reference books rather than fiction and have recently been enamoured by a very rare book on the photography of Yva (the professional pseudonym of Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon). I like Daphne du Maurier, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Somerset Maughn for the nostalgia, crime from Edgar Wallace. I also love the study books by Stephen Heller and Patrick Rössler who both specialise in the graphic design and typography of the 1920s and ’30s.
Do you collect anything:
I’ve been collecting and wearing vintage clothes since I was a teenager and like most collectors, you end up hoarding a lot of things. These days, however, I refine my collecting to the pre-War era and have many examples of original suits, shoes, ties and accessories that I wear as often as I can. They’re becoming increasingly scarce to find these days so keeping them in pristine condition and not sitting on public transport too much really helps preserve their life!
Do you have any hobbies:
People who know me often associate me with Bakelite objects and in particular, radio sets and in my time I have had hundreds. I restore them as far as possible and have now slimmed down my collection to about 20 sets with around half that are working. Radio cabinet designs were heavily influenced by the fashions of the time and you can see elements of Art Deco, Modernism and architecture reflected in many sets produced by makes like Murphy, Ekco and Cossor. A very talented electrician friend of mine built me a transmitter which means I can play any music from a digital source and pick it up from any of my sets which gives a really authentic listening experience.
What Art Deco site would you visit:
If it was in the present day then I would love to see the architecture of Mumbai but if a time machine was available, I’d want to see the road houses and lidos up and down the UK which were packed with folks eager to swim, dance, sip cocktails and sunbathe. There was a place called Firbeck Hall Club in Rotherham, a large country house converted into a private club which was the height of indulgence and decadence. An extortionate amount was spent on the ocean liner-esque interiors and it included a ballroom, grills and billiards, tennis courts, a lido and an airfield. Amy Johnson once flew in for a visit and the parties went on for days.
Are you working on any projects now:
I’m currently reading about the Bauhausmädels, the Italian Futurists and the work of some of the lesser-known pioneering female photographers of the time like Grete Stern, Germine Krull and Marianne Breslauer. I am also intending to write pieces for the Society website on the true mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926 and the rise and fall of the fashionable road houses in the UK.
Name: Jennifer Putnam
Occupation: Postgraduate Researcher in Contemporary History
Role in Art Deco Society UK: London Representative and Events Planner
Why do you love Art Deco? I love everything vintage. I love looking at how design has changed over the decades, and how design was often in response to world events. The interwar period was an especially tumultuous and vibrant time, and there are so many fascinating, uplifting, and heartbreaking stories to come out of that era. The architecture reflects the desire to find order in a chaotic postwar world. It isn’t just about clean lines or avant-garde work (though those details are magnificent), it is about humanity.
What is your favourite Art Deco place? My favourite Art Deco place is Senate House Library. As a student and researcher, I have spent a lot of time rummaging through the stacks, but when I get a glimpse out the window I always have to stop and take it in. The building itself is imposing and stunning, and the stories of the people who were inspired by it, like George Orwell, give it some extra intrigue. If you don’t know, during the Second World War the Ministry of Information occupied Senate House. The Library was closed to most personal users. The building’s use by the Ministry of Information inspired two noted English writers: Graham Greene and George Orwell. Greene’s novel The Ministry of Fear (1943) and its film adaptation Ministry of Fear by Fritz Lang (1944) were set in Bloomsbury and based in this building. George Orwell’s wife Eileen worked in Senate House for the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information, and her experiences inspired the description of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four: “The Ministry of Truth – Minitrue, in Newspeak – was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below […] The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts.” The building really boggles the mind!
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer? Nat King Cole is one of my favourite interwar jazz artists. The whole jazz movement in Chicago in the 1920s is amazing. With the migration of black workers from the American South to Chicago, the city was revitalised culturally and musically. The city finds its greatness in its diversity, and jazz is truly emblematic of that.
What is your favourite book? John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath has long been a favourite of mine. Far from the overly indulgent portrayal of capitalist corruption in the 1920s in The Great Gatsby, Steinbeck’s novel portrays the effects of the Great Depression on poor families in America seeking the interwar version of Manifest Destiny. It is a tragic and enduring tale that continues to be relevant. Outside of the interwar period, my favourite novel is A Prayer for Owen Meany. As I’m typing this, I realise that most of my answers are firmly rooted in Americana, but it is good to see history and literature from several points of view, isn’t it?
Do you collect anything? I collect buttons. They often come in handy when I’m repairing clothing, and they are nice to look at when they are sorted by colour and put in clear jam jars. The only other thing I collect is lapel pins. My friend pointed out that they sell them in most gift shops, so I’ve started collecting them whenever I visit somewhere interesting. They are good conversation starters, too! The Art Deco Society UK pin adds a lovely splash of colour to my display board as well!
What are your hobbies? When I’m not on the Art Deco scene, I love to be outside. I horseback ride once a week and love to go for long walks in the park. I have just started painting, though I have more of a ‘60s, pop-art style rather than an Art Deco style. Otherwise, I am an avid reader, I volunteer in archives, and I love comedy shows.
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? I’d love to go to the Teatro Opera in Buenos Aires. It would be nice to catch a show, too!
Name: Guy Loveridge
Occupation: Author/Publisher/Auctioneer/ Heritage Consultant.
Role in Art Deco Society UK: Membership Chappy.
Why do you love Art Deco?: It has a clean, crafted look that has always seemed the acme of “cool” to me.
What is your favourite Art Deco place?: The Hoover Factory.
Who is your favourite 1920s/30s performer?: Myrna Loy
What is your favourite film? A Matter of Life and Death.
What is your favourite book? On the Road
Do you collect anything? – Cars, books, Mike Hawthornabilia.
What are your hobbies? Historic car racing, reading, cinema, collecting and our heritage
If you could visit any Art Deco site in the world, where would it be? Ocean Drive, Miami South Beach
Are you working on any projects now? In the middle of production and pre-production for 4 books, covering Bugatti, BMC and coach builders from Farnham and a private archive of motor racing slides from the 1960s.
Name: Barry Cordon
Society Role: South West representative.
Why do you love Art Deco?: I am especially enamoured of the Streamline Moderne aspect of Art Deco, particularly the skyscrapers of America and their fabulous embellishments. I also love the set designs of early films. Art Deco seems to me to be the joy of beauty, elegance and decoration for it’s own sake. Art Deco has a talent to amuse!
What Art Deco site would you visit?: I want to visit New York to see the Chrysler Building, Chanin and Rockefeller Center etc. Indeed I was booked to go in March then all this happened!
What is your favourite Art Deco place?: The Carreras Cigarette Factory is one of my favourite buildings as well as Devon’s own Burgh Island.
What is your favourite book? I have no particular Deco authors but I would recommend “The Rules Of Civility” by Amor Towles.
Favourite Art Deco actress has got to be the fabulous Joan Crawford.
Do you collect anything? I have a large collection of books on Art Deco and a few statuettes etc.
When all this over I hope to organise a get-together on Burgh Island for South West members but in the meantime any members can contact me via Facebook.