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Design History

"All art is useless" - Oscar Wilde

Journal Info

FMM Candlesticks
Design History


May 16th, 2012

(no subject)


Verner Panton 1970

January 24th, 2012

(no subject)


René Lalique 1902


December 21st, 2011

(no subject)


Poster for exhibition 'The Woman'. The Netherlands, Amsterdam, 1913. Source

November 23rd, 2011

(no subject)


Tiffany ink well

January 28th, 2011

(no subject)


A Parody of Henry Van de Velde's Furniture, published in Lustige Blaetter in 1899. Signed by W.G.J. Niewenkamp as "Van der Bloede."

And an actual Van De Velde poster.

November 29th, 2010

(no subject)

Dejah Thoris White

Poster for Job Cigarette Papers
Manuel Orazi
ca. 1920s

April 27th, 2010

The Devil's Motor: A fantasy. Written by Marie Corelli, London: Hodder & Stoughton,

Click for larger image

Arthur Severn, colour plates, 1910

Arthur Severn (British, 1842-1931) is probably best know for representing John Ruskin during the Whistler trial in 1878. But do a search on Severn and his relationship with Ruskin (he even married Ruskin's cousin) is barely mentioned. The first posts to come up, are about the artist's questionable relationship with Corelli.

Marie Corelli was a very successful author, think of her as the Stephenie Meyer of her time. She was hated by the critics yet her romantic fantasies sold more than her contemporaries, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and even Rudyard Kipling.

March 26th, 2010

...but MoMA has just announced that it's "acquired" the @ symbol for its collection:


(Story via boingfeed.)

April 22nd, 2009

Manuel Orazi
title card

Through out the film, motifs in Orazi's hand painted title cards, repeat throughout the set design. I especially like these cats.

Many of the set designs are heavily influenced by the work of Gérôme and other artists of classical antiquity and the Orientalism movement. The director Jacques Feyder insisted the movie been filmed entirely on location in the Sahara. Even the interiors were filmed in an improvised studio in a tent outside in the desert.

DVD preview, it's very interesting how Jacques Feyder brings to life Orazi's designs.

But Orazi's orientalist designs are often contrasted with huge stark sets, with hints of the coming of Art Deco and German Expressionism.

It seems now with the of easing technology, we see more individual artists expressing their own unique vision. But rare do we get to see one complete vision in recent movies. I hope you enjoyed my look at this little film and find it as exciting as I do. Thank you.


April 20th, 2009

In 1892 Manuel Orazi moved from Rome to Paris. It wasn't long before he became well respected as an Art Nouveau poster artist. But Orazi was also gaining inspiration from other sources. By 1900 he started incorporating elements of the Vienna Secessionists and adding the expressionist touches of the Symbolists. One of his most famous posters, one of Loie Fuller has the traces of his various inspirations. From the flat gold details of Klimt or the body swirling into the nothingness of Munch. By the time he was tapped by director Jacques Feyder to be the visual artist for the movie adaptation L'Atlantide, Orazi had created a style that was derivative of so many other styles it had become something quite unique all together.

Orazi's main task in designing the costumes for the film was for the character Antinea. Antinea needed to be expressive of her ancient history. Orazi looked to the Egyptian and Nordic, combining them with "modern" design.

Actress Stacia Napierkowska as Antinea ( Napierkowska previously starred in Les Vampires)
(click for larger image)

This costume is decorated with an applique of seven characters from Egyptian mythology. Above the divinities, silver plated decorations are painted on the textile, while at their feet, there is the design of seven heads of falcons. Though Egyptian inspired the costume owes much to the design of the Viennese school.

(click for larger image)
Applique detail
transparent lamé, velvet, gilded and silver plated fabrics.

Antinea had several costume changes throughout the film, from this amazing cape and silk dress

to her battle helm

painted background also by Orazi

Tomorrow I'll discuss some of the set design, feel free to comment or correct me.

Recently on the Art Nouveau Live Journal community there was a brief mention of Manuel Orazi. Lately I've been slightly obsessed with Orazi's work and his ability to combine Secessionist imagery with Art Deco and Nouveau. Many of his images are also powered by the Symbolist movement with a heavy emphasis incorporating occult themes.

In 1920 Orazi was called on to design the sets, costumes, and posters for the film adaptation of Pierre Benoit's novel L'Atlantide. A story of a monstrous Queen Antinea, descendant of the rulers of Atlantis, it was a perfect fit for Orazi's theosophy leanings. Orazi had already had a very distinguished career, which included posters for Sarah Bernhardt’s Theodora, Empress of Byzantium , jewelry and poster designs for the Maison Moderne, and various illustrated books by authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, and Oscar Wilde.

L'Atlantide is a unique opportunity for Orazi's vision to be presented so clearly. Below are just some of the posters used to advertise the film around the world. Tomorrow, in part II, I'll post his amazing costume designs and in part III will discuss his set designs. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

(click for larger images)
Manuel Orazi
Movie Posters


Colonial cinema and imperial France, 1919-1939
By David Henry Slavin


February 21st, 2009

Arts to Enchant is a one-day symposium that will bring together post-graduate academics and practitioners to discuss the role fantasy plays in visual culture. In the context of this exchange, fantasy will be examined, not just as an imaginative impulse, but also as an essential artistic outlet for the dark fears, strange desires, bright hopes, and frothy whimsies that reason cannot exorcise.

In order to create a flexible forum for original interdisciplinary exchange, this symposium will encourage exploration of diverse formations of fantasy across all periods and in every facet of visual culture. Possible areas of exploration are therefore broad and include: graphic design and illustration, film, photography, animation, fashion, performance, science-fiction and fantasy art, graphic novels and comics, architecture, archaeology and history of art.

Other themes include but are not limited to:
Fetish/ Goth
Fairy tales & Mythology
Dreams/ Nightmares
Theoretical/ideological/psychoanalytical Fantasy
Aesthetics of Fantasy
Black/ White Magic
Performance and Masquerade
Monsters and Monstrosities
The Surreal/ The Uncanny
Erotica/ Eroticism

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted in English with the speaker’s name, institutional affiliation, the title of the paper and, if applicable, a list of any audio-visual requirements.

Deadline for submission is Friday the 13th of March, 2009.

Please Send Abstracts to:
Arts to Enchant Symposium
History of Art Department
University of Glasgow
8 University Gardens
G12 8QH

University of Glasgow website: http://www.glasgow.ac.uk
Department of History of Art: http://www..glasgow.ac.uk/historyofart

Cross-posted, apologies for duplicates.

November 24th, 2008

Razzle Dazzle!

Aquilegia 1
Hi all! This was posted on history_time today and I thought I'd link to it.

Before the days of sonar and long-distance detection devices, German U-Boats would use their periscopes to figure out where ships were headed so they could launch their devastating torpedoes. Previous British and American attempts at bluish camouflage had failed, since the sea and sky are constantly changing, so they switched to painting their ships in bizarre cubist patterns to break up their outlines.

Read the full post + see more pics

October 28th, 2008

(no subject)


Detectives Magazine
Back Cover

October 10th, 2008

(no subject)


Police Magazine "Il Y A Un An..."
Periodical cover

Police Magazine was a noted French detective magazine, popular with the Surrealist Movement.

July 10th, 2008

Click for larger image

Cover for Ivory Soap pamphlet

July 7th, 2008

Proctor & Gamble Ivory Soap Ad
W.P. McDonald

So popular was this advertisement, the company offered a print of it, in exchange for ten Ivory soap wrappers.

Walter Harrison Cady
Early 1900's


I'll post a few more throughout the week.
Images from my personal collection and The Ivory Project.

July 3rd, 2008

...which apparently had zero impact upon the company's overall economic health (http://news.uk.msn.com/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=8767053), the corporate Wal-Mart branding has now been overhauled:

More about it here:


(And please don't shoot the messenger. I don't shop there. Often...)

June 11th, 2008

...on the Art Deco incinerator designs of W. B. Griffin:


(And the BibliOdyssey feed itself is also available via LiveJournal: bibliodyssey.)
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