Monday, October 19, 2015
Green and gleaming: Illustration of the month
‘Have you seen how “VITROLITE” has brightened the bathrooms at the Savoy Hotel London?’ That’s the headline of a full-page advertisement in the August 1936 issue of The Architectural Review. The artwork, which I've chosen as my illustration of the month, shows a bathroom of great Art Deco elegance. The walls are clad mainly in eggshell green Vitrolite, a form of opaque pigmented glass that was especially popular between the two world wars, with strips of Wedgwood blue here and there to provide accents. The Vitrolite is fitted to different heights in different parts of the room, giving a stepped effect (partly visible in the reflection in the mirror) that’s typical of this decorative style. The chromium-plated fittings, angular basin and bath, and glass shelf complete the picture.
Everything is shiny and reflective (easy to clean and dazzling to look at), and the anonymous artist of this illustration is at pains to capture these mirror-like surfaces in the picture – a rug with a zigzag pattern is revealed reflected in the Vitrolite that surrounds the bath. The image is full of telling details: those reflections, the green soap, the glassware on the shelf. Everything works together, and everything is shiny and modern. The design was by Stanley Hall, Easton and Robertson, and perhaps this glamorous illustration was done in their office. It brings back the period and the style as perfectly as the Art Deco cinemas and factories of which I’m so fond.