Titanic or Lusitania

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Hey Everyone,

I was just wondering which ship you all thought was more luxuries and had more beautiful interior rooms. The Lusitania had high ceilings and was very airy while the Titanic had a more cozy feeling with more heavy furniture. Of course the Lusitania was older than the Titanic but it still is kind of hard to decide. Let me hear what you guys think!

I agree with you. For me, there's just no comparing the elegance of Lusitania's interiors to any other ship afloat during her time.

I think her superstructure wasn't as appealing as Titanic's (especially her rear view with all those open decks) but her interior appointments were unrivaled in my opinion. Although on a smaller scale than Titanic, her rooms gave the illusion of greater space and airiness by virtue of white paint work, delicate gilding, higher ceilings, and less fussy treatment in general. She looked like an ocean-borne miniature Versailles and you can't get more enchanting than that.

By contrast, Titanic's interiors, on the whole, seem dark and uninviting to me, especially the Jacobean dining saloon and reception hall, a style very fashionable at the time but just not as light and fresh-looking as (for instance) Lusitania's dining room, entrance hall and reading-writing room, all exquisitely paneled in white and set with gilt fixtures, recalling the fashion of the three Louis. It's this fine interpretation of regal French style that set her apart. Titanic's interiors only came close to topping Lusitania with its own French-inspired rooms - the a la carte restaurant, the Cafe Parisian, and the verandah or Palm Court, etc.

That's just how I see it, though.

I personally like Lusitania better too, Both Exterior and Interior. Although Some People may disagree w/ me on this, most White Star ships in my opinion looked too Box like on the Exterior, the Only exception being the Georgic (1929). The only Real advantic I Think Titanic's Exterior had is it made the Funnel Positions appear better, While the Lusitania's Made her's seem like they were too far forward, though this is all only my opinion.
That's a matter for changing tastes, also. Our modern taste tends to run for the open and spacious, while the taste in the 19teens - whatever you term the era - was turning towards a cosier, more intimate environment in interior design. Therefore, what you got on Titanic reflected this.

You Have a good Point there. I guess i could change my mind if i ever got a chance to go back in time n go on both ships, that is if a time machine is ever invented.
I think that any of the Olympics would be put to shame by the glitz and glamour of the way other liners were appointed, and this sure does a number on the usual superlative that these ships were the last word in luxury. They certainly were anything but IMO.

Having said that much, I have no doubt whatever that it was the Olympics which were much better seaboats because they avoided a lot of the topweight problems that made other liners lively rollers even in moderate seas. This was a notable problem for both the Lusitania and the Mauritania as well as the bigger ships that Germany already had on the slips.

The Imperator for example was not known as the Limperator for nothing, and even such efforts as cutting down the hight of the stacks and adding several thousand tons of concrete as permanent ballest never really cured the problem. At best, they put a band-aide on it.
Yes the Imperator had lousy stability. if you read simpson's book where he describes Lusitania's stability problems, he goes too far n make her sound more like Imperator. The most stable alantic ship without mechanical stabilizers was probably the Homeric (former NDL Columbus)
yes. i do recall this. but i find most of simpson's book to be unreliable. While he is right about lusitania being unstable, he overplays it my opinion. A more reliable source would be the Engineering Special Edition book, though Ramsay or Bailey & Ryan will also do fine.
>>but i find most of simpson's book to be unreliable.<<

As do some other historians. I seem to recall seeing some figures for the Lusitania which claimed a righting arm of 33 degrees, which is a dangerously slim margin for the North Atlantic IMO. However, this may reflect the condition of the ship in an already damaged state. I'll have to go back for a look see in the papers that I have.
"...That's a matter for changing tastes, also. Our modern taste tends to run for the open and spacious, while the taste in the 19teens - whatever you term the era - was turning towards a cosier, more intimate environment in interior design. Therefore, what you got on Titanic reflected this..."

I wasn't speaking merely of my own taste but from an understanding and appreciation of the influences in interior decoration of the time.

While there was a gathering trend in Edwardian days toward Jacobean and other English period styles (which figured into Titanic's design), the prevailing fashion was for the "Old French Look," as espoused by stylist Elsie de Wolfe and other leading taste-makers of the era. Whether the specific mood was Louis Seize or Directoire or Empire, the basic character was nonetheless French neo-classical.

Therefore, my statement in praise of Lusitania's interiors isn't just my opinion but would have been the opinion of many style-conscious contemporary travelers.

My thought is that Titanic's designers were hoping to set it apart from its competition, the regal Cunard, and so seized upon a more traditional, less formal look by fusing period styles together in a sort of care-free, homey way. One see this, for instance, in the placing of dark English furniture and fixtures against white-painted "French look" paneling and ceilings (i.e., the dining room), a decision that isn't at all in bad taste. But, as an evocation of a pure period style, it isn't authentic in its arrangement and overall expression.

By contrast, Lusitania's designers were very careful about producing a "total" look in their scheme of period decoration, especially in their treatment of the pervasive French taste. Almost everything was accurately replicated - even down to small accents and details, such as the fine gilt trim, the luxurious plaster work, the Boucher-inspired ceiling art in the dining room, the cameo insets in the paneling in the first-class suites, etc.

The difference between the interiors on Lusitania and Titanic can almost be identified in terms of gender. The Titanic gave that warm, hearty feeling of an English country house or a private gentleman's club in London, with its delightful hodge-podge of furnishings and fixtures; Titanic was essentially a man's realm.

But aboard Lusitania, the soft, gracious mood of a ladies' music parlor or boudoir was set, with its airy lightness and delicate detailing. The decor was completely feminine and primarily Parisian in tone; she was like a floating Maxim's.

Style wise, you might say Titanic was lord to Lusitania's lady. Neither was "better" than the other, perhaps, but a lady always come first!
Randy, when I was a boy, such 'French-style' furniture was so commonly seen that it was a mainstay of the house-clearance trade. Very occasionally, an authentic piece - most usually a chair - was discovered among the jumble. An auctioneer I knew then would sometimes say (always as if it were the first time he had!): "That Louis says a lot of things; but you can't always believe him." The circa1910 reproductions - otherwise of quality - always looked somehow 'heavier' and their paint 'chalkier'. At a time when people almost paid to have it taken away, I liked such furniture and would always refer to it as 'Titanic rococo'.

You are so right about the 1900s replicas of Louis and Empire chairs. They were definitely heavier and larger than the 18th century originals. You can see that in the Titanic lounge chairs especially, which look far more comfortable than the "real things" I have seen at Petit Trianon. In fact, with the exception of one of Mme. du Barry's sofas (ca. 1770) in the drawing room, none of the furniture there looks large enough to seat a normal size man of today.

Of course some of the chairs and tables made later for Marie-Antoinette (post-1774) were purposefully made on a small scale in keeping with the fashion for the miniature which the Queen is credited with inspiring. While Edwardian styles were lighter in color and seemingly less fussy, the recent Victorian taste nonetheless left its mark in pieces of commodious size and heaviness.

Yes, "Titanic Rococo" is a good name for it!

I thought it might interest the board to read what interior decorating guru Helen Churchill Candee thought of modernized Louis XV and XVI styles.

A designer more in spirit than by profession (although she did occasionally create interiors for hire), she had much to say in her books and articles about the current trend for copying old French and other period furniture. Unfortunately, there is no known record of her impression of Titanic's decor.

Yet one can easily imagine the lovely Mrs. Candee gliding about the ship's public rooms, examining with her cultivated and critical eye the craftsmanship, color schemes and placement of furniture. Perhaps it was as she swept from lounge to verandah to restaurant, making mental notes of White Star style, that she first attracted the admiring glances of that brace of dapper dudes who would become her protectors en route.

Anyhow, here are a few excerpts from Candee's "Decorative Styles and Periods" (New York: Frederick A. Stokes, Co., 1906), one of her most popular works.

"...Unhappily for those who do know the difference (between Louis XV and XVI), the market is now being flooded with cheap machine-made imitations, which bear a painful resemblance to the real. It is annoying, surely, to run against the echo of de Pompadour in the department store, set between kitchen hardware and groceries, but these impertinences of fresh wood and machine-turned tool are but upstarts and, like the toadstools on the lawn, will not last. Perhaps they cultivate the public taste but I doubt if that is ever done except by study of the best. And the best - no matter how the prejudice of the day resents it - is of the past."

She says, too, that "if forms are copied, workmanship rarely is."

Personally, Candee was enamored of the styles of Louis Quinze and Seize but she was a stickler for the original article. This was not snobbishness on her part but a passionate appreciation of the consummate skill of the 18th century craftsmen who made such an art of their work.

She says it best herself:

"...The old chair was made by men who studied the rules of proportion as religiously as they learned the catechism, and who prepared for this by steeping their minds in the five orders of architecture. Each chair was turned out complete by one worker, often by him who designed it. Therein lies the reason for the perfection of the old. A piece of furniture was a composition, the expression of a man's own taste and erudition..."

She went on to say that

"...Without associating with original pieces, perhaps it is impossible to know the difference. Indeed I find myself embarrassed to set it down on paper. The atmosphere of antiquity which is its charm is impossible to describe - it must be felt. By reading you may know its history, by studying you may know its detail but only by contact can you feel its full charm..."

It's clear in reading her work that architecture and interior design were wedded in her opinion, not just due to shared principles but because both were, essentially, "a study of man." It is the human history behind the creation of a chair, the weaving of a tapestry, the arrangement of a suite of furniture that fascinated her.

And it is her touching depictions of the people and customs of various historical periods that imbue her own work with such sparkle and warmth.
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