Le Corbusier’s love of the ocean liner

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IF Instagram had been around during Le Corbusier’s time, his followers would no doubt have been inundated with arty pictures of funnels, hashtag “design_inspo”. Photographs taken by the Swiss architect on board an Italian passenger ship in 1936 are one of the exhibits in “Ocean Liners: Speed & Style”, a celebration of ocean liners and design at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

Le Corbusier’s journey from Brazil to France took place during the golden age of liners. In the early 20th century migrants still made up the bulk of ocean travellers, but after the first world war America tightened up its immigration policy and liners reinvented themselves to appeal to the growing number of middle-class tourists. Ever-bigger and faster ships boasted fancy restaurants, swimming pools, cinemas and even department stores. Glitzy art-deco interiors were the order of the day—one of the most breath-taking things in the exhibition is an enormous gold-lacquer frieze of sportsmen from a dining room on the Normandie, a French liner built…Continue reading

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