Photograph

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Brian O'Dell

Guest
Greetings. I came across this photograph and wondered if it was taken aboard the Olympic. I deducted the style is of the Art Deco (1930's) era. Can anyone confirm this, and if not, which liner is this from?

- Brian
 

Bill Sauder

Member
Dec 19, 2000
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Hi Brian,

The photo you have is one of the "new" enlarged cabins WS installed on the Olympic later in her career in order to attract more passengers.

They took the block of cabins on Bridge deck forward of the main stair case, tore down the partitions combining cabins, eliminating the promenade deck forward, and inserted private bathrooms. The new cabins were much more spacious than the old ones, and decorated in a variety of styles, including this one which is Art Deco, but period reference call it "Moderne".

The cabin is probably A17 (WS re-lettered the decks) and is a composite of the old B25-27 cabins, plus the promenade deck adjacent.

View Image
 
B

Brian O'Dell

Guest
Thanks for the details and I agree. The wallpaper pattern is hideous! The first impression i received made me think also that the color was without doubt, probably green. Disgusting!
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Bill,

I am in complete agreement with your assessment that this was one of the large staterooms added to Olympic during her overhaul and refit of 1928-29. However, I'm not so sure about the specific room identification. You wrote:

The new cabins were much more spacious than the old ones, and decorated in a variety of styles, including this one which is Art Deco, but period reference call it "Moderne".

The cabin is probably A17 (WS re-lettered the decks) and is a composite of the old B25-27 cabins, plus the promenade deck adjacent.
I was interested to see that on the deckplan you posted, there were no styles given alongside the room numbers. I have seen similar plans from 1929 and 1931, and there were no styles given there either. However, the numbers for these new staterooms remained the same for Olympic's post-1929 career and these staterooms were also shown on a June 1934 deckplan that I have. This deckplan also gives the styles of each room.

Now, according to the 1934 deckplan, room A17 was a 'Queen Anne' room. The decor of the Queen Anne rooms certainly does not match Brian's photograph. If it's the case that this photograph is a 'Modern Room', as you indicated, then there are only two options as to the room's identity: either A16 on the port side or A15 on the starboard side. Given the layout, I think that it can only be A16 on the port side (if it was A15, for example, the beds would be on the wrong side). Even the furniture arrangement - such as the settee - seems to be a perfect fit.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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I could not get the deckplan uploaded. However, there is a section of it included in an article on my website:

Go to: http://www.markchirnside.co.uk/Olympic_Index.htm and click on the following article:

RMS Olympic: The Mis-dated Refit (August 2006)

An article helps to pinpoint the dates of specific changes to Olympic in the late 1920s, including the installation of new first class suites forward on B-deck.

It will open as a pdf. file. On page 2 of 4, an extract shows room A16.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 

Bill Sauder

Member
Dec 19, 2000
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Hi Mark,

Our differing cabin Identifications come from the fact our source materials don't agree.

Your A16 matches the cabin's arrangement of doors and furniture, but mine does not. However, my A17 does match the photo and my A16 does not ...

View Image

That being said, your ID of A16 is probably correct based on these facts: (1) your source identifies it as "modern", (2) your source is probably later than mine, based on the drafting style.

I suggest my earlier drawing is based on an "As planned" configuration and yours is an "As built".

The problem was probably the niche over the writing table. There was probably a mechanical interference problem with plumbing behind the wall in the "as planned" position, so the configuration was flopped on the job site.

Accepting A16 also solves the problem of ambiguous sheer: in the photo the heads of the bed appear to be facing aft, but because sheer is not too pronounced at this point, I was not sure to ascribe the photo's "out of square" aspect to sheer or lens fish eye. It occurred to me that the photo might be flopped, but that was opening another can of worms...

Bill
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Bill,

Thanks for putting together that comparison image of the plans you have and my own 1934 plans. It's very helpful for anyone following this thread to see them in one place so that they can visualise what's being discussed.

That being said, your ID of A16 is probably correct based on these facts: (1) your source identifies it as "modern", (2) your source is probably later than mine, based on the drafting style.

I suggest my earlier drawing is based on an "As planned" configuration and yours is an "As built".
Do you have a date for your plan? I have no reason to doubt it's an earlier one than mine, as the furniture configuration matches earlier plans. Your suggestion makes perfect sense to me.

One specific detail that I would find useful relates to the Cafe Parisien. In April 1931, White Star decided to fit a cocktail bar in Majestic's palm court; and then to install a cocktail bar at the forward end of Olympic's Cafe Parisien. This cocktail bar is also shown on my plan from 1934, although it did not yet appear on plans I have seen from 1931, but it would help narrow the date. Another query I had related to stateroom numbers: are B51 and B39 still extant on your plans?

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Feb 4, 2007
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I must say, I'm surprised at the blatant dismissal of the wallpaper in this stateroom. It is important to remember that the immediate reaction of our eyes today must be tempered with how it was perceived in its era.

This new stateroom clearly illustrates strong elements of Cubism, in addition to early Art Deco motifs fresh from the 1925 Paris Expo. For its era, especially on a ship, this room was exceptionally modern and would have caused quite a reaction (either positive or negative) in those who viewed it at the time. Negative reactions came from those who didn't like the new "Modern" movement, preferring instead the more familiar styles of previous centuries. Others embraced this new look wholeheartedly for its functionalism, "movement", and clean lines.

The wallpaper in this room is a perfect example of early Deco design, and suits the room very well. It unifies the elements of the angular furnishings for a decisive, cohesive "Modern" look. Plain painted walls, wood paneled walls, or floral wallpaper sprays (the other au courant wall treatment choices) would not have had this same unifying affect.

Aesthetics are, of course, subjective, but only to a point. "Not in my house" may be a valid perspective in viewing this room today, but at that time, the style was new, hot, and very now.

Few other ships in 1927-1928 would have offered passengers such modern (and popular) style. Perhaps White Star was trying to lure passengers who might otherwise be tempted by CGT's stunning new Deco Ile de France?
 

Bill Sauder

Member
Dec 19, 2000
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Hi Mark,

No, the image I originally posted is all I have of this plan. In fact, I don't remember how I got it, or how long ago ... over 10 years at least. All I know is I never had the whole plan, and don't now so there's nothing to add to its age estimate.

By the way, have you gotten the last few emails I have sent?

Bill
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Jason,

Your comments remind me of some of Cunard's statements when they made various changes to Aquitania in the late 1920s. I think they mentioned the Paris Expo. They got a lot of positive coverage at the time. You know, I wish there were more colour illustrations available: I remember seeing one for Olympic's Tudor rooms, but none of the others offhand.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Bill,

No worries. It would have been interesting to look at some further details to narrow the date, but since it's clearly an earlier plan then that fact serves our purposes for this discussion.
Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>They got a lot of positive coverage at the time.<<

One has to wonder: Did they get a lot of positive feedback from their customers? If they did, then no harm no foul, even if the decor looked foul to our eyes. Tacky or not, a line which doesn't come up with something to makes it's clients happy and keep them happy tends not to remain in business for very long.