“Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!” - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
The Roaring Twenties was the age of sophisticated rebellion. The soundtrack was jazz, fashion was remodeled by flappers, and the period was the peak of Art Deco design.
The essence of the era is captured in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby, one of the most elegantly written novels of the 20th century.
Who among us has not fantasied about receiving an invite to the lavish parties hosted by Gatsby, attended by characters resplendent with limitless wealth and intriguing gossip, in homes decorated with beautiful Art Deco furnishings?
The Madison & Mayfair Contemporary Deco collection recognises the allure retained by the Art Deco style, recasting its evocative spirit into modern homeware.
Gold embellishments adorn exuberant mirrors and glass, and items are emboldened with flourishes of soft statement colours, dappled finishes, and sleek geometric designs.
‘The [house] on my right was a colossal affair by any standard–it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion.’
In Fitzgerald’s novel, the glories - and the miseries - of the Jazz Age (an expression coined by Fitzgerald) fill the book. At the centrepiece of The Great Gatsby is a grand mansion, Gatsby’s home, that for readers remains forever coupled with Art Deco.
So how would our Contemporary Deco collection furnish Gatsby’s opulent mansion, and welcome the revolving-door of frequent guests?
We think our Pink Velvet Shell Chair would be a staple of the interior. With its soft pink tone, clamshell curves and smooth geometry, the piece is ideal for both leisurely afternoon relaxing, and seating guests as evening beckons.
The streamlined aesthetic of the Art Deco era revealed itself even in the popularisation of certain breeds of dogs. The greyhound became an iconic Art Deco image, and our black Sitting Greyhound would be prefect decor for the vast lawns that surround Gatsby’s home, or placed prominently along the hallways and winding staircases of Jay Gatsby’s abode.
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
Practically every page of The Great Gatsby tells of alcoholic spirits, illegal hooch and parties heaving with people, drink, and decadence.
We imagine Gatsby and the object of his love, Daisy Buchanan, raising a starry-eyed toast on a balcony overlooking the boundless grounds of the mansion, clasping our Gold Champagne Saucers, amid a secretive embrace.
And, in some distant room, we see the book’s narrator, Nick Carraway, eagerly passing around drinks in our luxuriant Gold Margarita Glasses to the sound of riotous laughter, with Daisy’s husband, Tom, reciting tales from his glory days as Yale’s star footballer.
“The bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names.”
So often in The Great Gatsby cocktails are at the foreground of the enthralling parties, bar scenes and moments of fleeting pleasure.
In the book, the outdoor cocktail table is described as “the only place in the garden where a single man could linger without looking purposeless and alone.”
But if Gatsby had owned our gold Round Drinks Trolley or gold Large Shelving Trolley, no guest would ever countenance isolation. Their splendidly geometric Art Deco designs are made mobile by discreet wheels, meaning Jay, Daisy and co would always have the company of its chauffer.
With its elongated mixing spoon and golden strainer, we imagine Gatsby’s bar stocked with our Classic Gold Cocktail Shaker Set. The dimpled shaker and gold finish are precisely the details he cherished. We think his home bar would have at least one set ready to beguile his guests.
“I’ve been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.”
When the tale shakes off its near permanent hangover, it is often the comfort of Gatsby’s library that provides sobriety.
In the middle of the book, we are given a description of the library, allowing us to imagine how we might choose to supplement its decor:
“On a chance we tried an important-looking door, and walked into a high Gothic library, panelled with carved English oak, and probably transported complete from some ruin overseas.”
The Art Deco period is synonymous with English Oak sideboards, wardrobes, and chests of draws decorated with bold geometry and intricate detail.
They were often paired with exuberantly shaped chairs tempered with soft curves, in the style of our Blue Velvet Armchair. We think its timeless Art Deco design would have made a sumptuous addition to the Gatsby library.
And is any reading space complete without a stool on which to rest wearied legs? Our Pink Velvet Ottoman would accompany the chair, a book, and a replenishing tea, to Art Deco perfection.
“All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don't come back.”
A central theme in The Great Gatsby is the passing of youth, and the melancholy realization that our days of wine and roses vanish quickly – and are irretrievable.
The character that best embodies this passing is Tom Buchanan, described in the opening pages as “one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anticlimax.”
This theme is why the book continues to endure. We see the loss of youth and innocence unfold before our eyes on the page.
It is a theme we all know, live, and experience ourselves, of course. Which is why we capture lost moments and cherished memories in photographs, and present them as beautifully as we can.
And if Jay Gatsby wanted to remind himself of when he and Daisy were free to be happy together, or Tom wished to treasure his longed-for college days, or Nick desired to contemplate his life-altering time in the military, then our gold Contemporary Deco frames would look splendid hung along the walls of their Manhattan and Long Island homes.
The bright precious things may indeed fade, but, this way, they can, like vivid memories, come back.