I turned the vase around, admiring the fine detail, the color and artistry. “It’s beautiful,” I told my friend. “It’s art nouveau,” she said. “I saw a similar one at Pier 1. Nice Christmas gift.”
How my neighbor parted with the gorgeous vase, I had no idea. We had just met. Perhaps it was a thank-you note for the dinner we cooked, welcoming her to the neighborhood. Some people are awesome gifters.
Art nouveau reminds me of the Bradbury building in Los Angeles, where I live, and architectural designs in Europe, where I used to live. The detail, oh, the detail.
Take the interior of the Bradbury building. From the outside, it is rather common-looking — a brick building with rectangular windows. Inside, however, it is a world enhanced by the restful space designed, as the story goes, to isolate the interior from the loud and busy exterior.
Research details that “the courtyard features ornamentation, topped with a beautiful glass roof. Art Nouveau iron work was used for the marble stairways, elevator, and balcony rails.”
No wonder it looks extraordinary.
Growing up in Europe, I was surrounded by architecture that made beauty part of everyday life. But as is the case with adolescents, I paid little attention.
The vase and the conversation with my friend sent me down memory lane. Back in front of the computer.
Since Los Angeles is not necessarily inundated with art nouveau, I went in search of European styles. And there’s no shortage of grand-scale design there, as the nouveau originated in London.
So much splendor across the continent, but I concentrated my hunt to the buildings I ignored all those years ago in Romania. And I found them everywhere, from Bucharest to Constanta to Arad.
I may be a little biased, but I find the designs impressive in their beauty and style — architecture from the age of splendor.
I hope you enjoy the pictures below as much as I did. I tried to pick a favorite but no luck. Feel free to share yours (if any) with me.
Photos credit: Bradbury building, photo by Andreas Praefcke; buildings in Romania, photos by Acaro, Domokdr, Andrei Stroe, all from Wikimedia Commons Public Domain.