Happy Friday readers!
Since Hurricane Irene is currently bearing down on my doorstep, I’ve decided to bring you a hurricane edition of Friday Fantasies. As we don’t get hurricanes a lot where I am, I’ve decided to take you to hurricane central: Florida, and that can really only mean one thing, folks… Art Deco! Yes, that glorious style that was ubiquitous during the 1920s and 30s that brings to mind shiny platinum, zig-zags and aero-planes. It’s a style that is know for its creative melding of futurist, almost cubist, lines with sumptuous decorative motifs often drawing inspiration from Egyptian and Aztec roots, such as the great photo below from peacfulresources.com. Here, acanthus leaves are woven into the sleek lines of the door surround along with geometrical designs, beneath a wide cornice, creating the impression of a grand entrance to an Egyptian temple, for a signature Art Deco look.
Now, I know I’ve wandered a little bit and haven’t introduced today’s Fantasy yet, but that’s because I want you to have a little background on one of my favorite styles before I do! For any of my Preservation friends out there, you may be a little surprised to hear me admit that anything built after the turn of the 18th century is my favorite (as I am well known for my distaste for Frank Lloyd Wright and other architects that I consider to have designed “new” architecture. Yes, I realize that it makes me a bad Preservationist, but everyone is a hypocrite in one way or another…) but Art Deco is, in my opinion, the last great style, and everything starts to go downhill after that, in my opinion. Which is not so say that there were no good buildings built after the 1930s, it’s just that I think they are fewer and farther between. But anyway, on with the mini history lesson! We begin post-WWI: Europe, finding itself broken and lacking a lot of architectural stock, as a result of the war that had just ravaged much of the continent, decided it is time to rebuild. Since they have been known for their design prowess since the early days of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, the French really take the helm.
“Ah, but ‘ow shall we rebuild, mon petite chou?” They ask as they smoke their cigarettes and absently munch on their baguettes (I imagine, because in my head they are sitting in a cafe under the still-newish Eiffel Tower, sipping wine and speaking in an out-ra-geous French ack’sent). The answer? They design a combination of old and new. Neoclassical and Egyptian motifs mingled with sleek lines and bold geometry, in a very Picasso meets Pythagoras way. The biggest boost for Art Deco occurred in 1925, with the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art , where Art Deco reached its apex and was reflected in everything from jewelry and graphic art to architecture, as it reflected a change from the flowing, organic lines of Art Nouveau to the sleek lines of the new futurist and cubist styles that were taking hold. All of this culminated to a style that we Americans recognize most readily in the Chrysler Building. Surprisingly, Art Deco also took hold in a rather surprising place: Florida. This trend brought about the development of blocks of Art Deco buildings in places such as Miami and South Beach, where they still exist to this very day. That brings us finally to today’s Friday Fantasy: The Carlyle Hotel in Miami. Now, to some, a hotel might not seem like much of a Fantasy, but I’m given to believe (from my extensive television viewing and book reading) that some people actually live in hotels (people like Harvey from USA’s new series, “Suits”, and precocious little Eloise from her book adventures). That being said, why not fantasize about living in a great hotel?
The Image Below is an historic postcard of the Carlyle from the Drexel Grapevine:
You may recognize the Carlyle as titular nightclub from the movie, “The Bird Cage” . A number of other movies have also been shot at the Carlyle, and for a list of those movies, you can check out this website dedicated to the Carlyle.