My Introduction to Art Deco

Medha Kapur of Saffronart responds to some of the lots coming up in our Art Deco Auction

Mumbai: It seems these days that all sorts of old styles are coming back into fashion! The design style known as Art Deco began in Paris in the 1920s, and has made several comebacks since. These days Art Deco fashion, jewelry, and even furniture are all the subject of new trends. Working at Saffronart, I have met some very creative individuals and major fans of the Art Deco period.

Deco is a strong, beautiful style. Its typical attributes include geometric shapes, bold curves, strong lines, aerodynamic forms, and sunbursts galore. A distinct departure from previous design styles, Deco evoked elegance and modernity. It was also influenced by the increased ability to travel, inspired not only by modernism, but by the cultures of faraway places such as Egypt, China and Japan.

Saffronart is holding its inaugural Art Deco auction on October 31-November 1, 2012. The idea is to showcase the Art-Deco style, which defined South Bombay in the 1920s and 30s, and is now synonymous with its unique heritage. This auction will also help raise awareness and funds for Mumbai’s bid to nominate its Art-Deco and Victorian precincts as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Saffronart and its consignors have committed to donating 5% of the proceeds from the sale of select lots to this cause.

The auction will feature original furniture, timepieces, accessories and jewelry. I was completely floored by one of the furniture pieces in the sale, a rare lady’s vanity. What grabbed my attention was the story behind it! The piece is likely to have belonged to a distinguished Indian lady, and was probably used as a travelling dresser during long cruise-liner voyages to Europe, extended stays at summer homes in the hills, and in luxury tents during the ‘shikar’ or hunting season. Sounds quite majestic!

lady’s vanity case

lady’s vanity case

Another evocative and glamorous piece in this auction is a custom-designed bracelet watch in 18 K gold with diamond accents. This watch was made for the Princess of Jodhpur, and included as a part of the Indian traditional dowry system when she got married to the Yuvraj of Baroda. The splendid provenance of this fine wristwatch makes it a coveted acquisition, as the royal house of Baroda is synonymous with style and refinement.

Wristwatch from the estate of the late Maharani Padmavati Devi Gaekwar of Baroda.

Universal Geneve wristwatch from the estate of the late Maharani Padmavati Devi Gaekwar of Baroda.

Despite having a very specific look and feel, Art Deco objects seem to have a modernism about them that makes their appeal quite timeless. There are certain styles that will never go out of fashion, and I believe Art Deco is one them!

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