Robin Grow, Art Deco objects and architecture
Art Deco objects and architecture
Interview with Robin Grow
Filmed by Tribal Media
Contributor: Heritage Victoria
What house is that? Interactive, created by Heritage Victoria.
Robin Grow describes the relationship between objects and architecture in the Art Deco home, and how Art Deco was intended to be a holistic design aesthetic.
To learn more about Inter-war architecture, Click Here.
Robin Grow is the president of the Art Deco and Modernism Society Inc., an international society with over 750 members. Amongst other events, the Society hosted the World Congress on Art Deco in Melbourne in 2007. Grow is passionate about the preservation of Inter-war buildings and has a special interest in researching and documenting the architecture and designers of the Inter-war period in Victoria. He has written and presented extensively on the era and is the author of a forthcoming book on the Art Deco style in Melbourne. In 2008 he provided assistance to the National Gallery of Victoria in the presentation of the Art Deco 1910-1939 exhibition.
The relationship between objects and house architecture comes through in a number of ways, one of which is the materials that were used for some of those objects.
So, as well as fabric of the house being used, being designed in glass and metal, we see a lot of the objects in those materials as well.
There's also... A lot of the objects were very, very simple in their form, but they also represented changes.
So we see vases, we see... little decorative items such as animals, polar bears, etc, but redesigned, remodelled, if you like, so that they're a series of planes rather than soft and cuddly.
We also see a lot of internal lamps that were redesigned, and a lot of that came from Holland and Germany, 'cause this was in the era where all ornamentation, both in architecture and in objects, was being stripped away, so there were simple, elegant lines that were coming through from the smallest object up to the largest sculpture.
The style has gone in and out of fashion over the years. There's no doubt about that. Some of that's about how much of it is actually available.
But as far as architecture and places to live, it's relatively timeless, particularly in areas like St Kilda and Elwood, where a building in Art Deco style is actually a major feature that a real estate agent will concentrate on as a selling point.
So there's... I mean, who can ever work out what causes fashions to change?
But our members tell us that they're attracted to these buildings and have been attracted to these buildings for a long time.
One of the strengths of Art Deco is that it's across all of the items that we live with, and it's across a whole range of areas, such as graphics, jewellery, appliances, furniture design and fashion, dance, art, photography.
All of those things and more are affected by the restyling, the ethos that said things need to be simpler and easier to produce.
Because it was also very much a recovering world in a capitalist environment. And there was a great emphasis on sale and production of goods for sale.
And, in fact, the 1925 Exposition in Paris was designed for consumers as much as the artists of the day.
There was simplicity and paring back in materials and in the architecture and in the objects, but, at the same time, it was, for many people, quite a joyous era where they were trying to escape the memories of the horrors of the war and also of the Depression.
So, in the '30s when the economy started to pick up and there were more jobs available, people were receptive... to having a good time.
And one of the areas that we see that, particularly in Melbourne, was the dancehalls. There were numerous dancehalls, many of them in Art Deco styling. And this was a wonderful way for people to get together and have a good time.