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Decoration and Furniture for Public Buildings and Dwellings -

Decoration and Furniture for Public Buildings and Dwellings at the Exhibition Expo Liege 1905

This group included all industries related to the decoration and furnishing of public buildings and private homes; not only fixed decoration in marble, stone, iron, wood, mosaic and stained glass, but also mobile decoration: furniture, carpets, tapestries, wallpapers, hangings, ceramics, glassware. Heating and ventilation equipment as well as non-electric lighting equipment and processes were also included.

A happy arrangement adopted by the exhibitors of the group, had made it possible to present to the public sets of particular installations: flats, dining rooms, bedrooms, etc., of the happiest effect and of a very real taste.

All these exhibitions thus formed a sort of complete and lively decor, which was further accentuated by the fact that around the exhibition of decorative arts applied to industry, to which we have devoted a special note, were grouped crystals and glassware, ceramics and stained glass.

The rest of the elements belonging to the group: heating and ventilation equipment and processes, non-electric lighting equipment and processes, were in the next bay, enclosed between the bimbeloterie and electricity.

An order, well made to please the eyes and the mind, was established in this way.

Class 66, the first of the group, had presented a remarkable variety of all the artistic and industrial elements applied to fixed decorations.

This interesting class was installed in the salons to the right and left of the Salon d'Honneur.

In the right-hand room there were sashes and frames on partitions; in the left-hand room, exhibited on the floor, were the manufactured objects.

In the first of these rooms, there were architectural objects and photographs offering visitors a wide variety of house and building types.

Various architects showed hotel plans, plans for villas and castles, details of art-nouveau facades, interiors of living rooms and dining rooms of different styles.

Mr. Lameire's decorative panels attracted attention. They represented the complete decoration of the chapel of St. Louis of the French in Italy, in the cathedral of Loretto; the main events of the French in Palestine since the battle of Nazareth in 1187 were reproduced.

In this very interesting exhibition, the mosaic cartoons of the basilica of Fourvières in Lyon, reproducing the battle of Lepanto, in 1571, were also remarkable.
Another mosaic, no less artistic, represented the vow of Louis XIII.

The objects made complemented the lesson given by these handwritten documents.

There were objects in cut or polished stone and marble, marvellous banisters, lanterns with brackets, wrought iron hangers and copper fittings.
Wood was represented with artistic research in an art-nouveau desk and delightfully patinated panelling.

Sculpture was also included in this class with the exhibition of the sculptor-decorator Léon Raynaud, who presented not only specimens in wood, stone and staff, but also a series of photographs of various works of great decoration that he executed for private hotels or public monuments.

Class 67 (stained glass) was represented by four exhibitors who submitted to the examination of the visitors, glassworks of a beautiful simplicity of lines and a real richness of colours, such as "the Lake", "Turenne and the military courage", "the two Peacocks".

They were followed by the wallpapers forming class 68. Not only were there luxury papers, but also cheap papers, albeit of a delightful design and colour.

We shall mention, among others, large damask boards in colour or imitation plush, imitation Cordovan or Venetian leathers, machine-made friezes, reproductions of earthenware, papers for stained-glass windows and a large, machine-stitched drawing, one metre high, representing all the monuments of Belgium.

In addition to wallpapers, this class also included the varnishes used for this industry.

Two French works were also included: the Society for the Protection of Wallpaper Children and the Professional School of Painting and Decoration.

French exhibitors were relatively numerous in class 69 (Furniture), where some first-class companies were brilliantly represented. In addition to furniture of great beauty by Messrs Arnavielhe, Cheminais, Maxime Clair, Derudder, Eugène Hidden, Jeanselme, Sylvain Gémont, Lucas-Maugery, Henri Mercier, François and Paul Soubrier, there were marquetry-mosaics by Messrs Chevrel and Pied-Chevrel, office and school furniture by M. Feret, a modern bedroom by M. M. M., and an antique bedroom by M. M. M. Feret, a modern bedroom by Messrs. Hochard frères, furniture with brassware by Messrs. Jungers and Collignon, superb and rich pieces of art cabinetry by Mr. François Lincke and finally special furniture for hotels, cafés, sanatoria, villas, by the Société Française d'Entreprise pour hôtels.

These exhibitors, together with those of class 70, had each composed a complete room, entirely furnished according to its destination; the public passed from one to the other, so that it had the impression, not of visiting a succession of stands cut by paths as in the preceding exhibitions, but of going through the flats of a luxurious dwelling.

After having passed through them, one lesson remained: the persistence of French cabinetmakers in remaining faithful to the old styles, either by copying them faithfully or by adapting them to the requirements of modern installations.

However, it should also be noted that the periods prior to the 17th century were more or less abandoned and that only the Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI styles were represented.

If the modern style is thus neglected in France, the reason is that it cannot contribute sufficiently to the decoration of sumptuous salons nor can it be applied to the composition of luxury furniture
It is, however, sometimes used in the furnishing of secondary rooms; in this modern genre, the French exhibition presented two specimens of a certain value.

Tapestries, silks and velvets, decorated doors and hangings of class 70, completed the ornamentation of these pieces.

MM. Braquenié et Cie, whose splendid tapestries, masterpieces of art and taste, made in Aubusson and also in Malines, are known the world over, had combined their exhibition with that of Mr. Lincke. The rich productions of the admirable master Lincke and the artistic marvels of Messrs. Braquenié et Cie complemented each other in the happiest of ways.

The silks of MM. Cornille frères and the handmade lace of MM. Figues, Guyonnet and Supplice - the worthy successors of M. Warée - were combined in the happiest of ways in two superb showcases. Nothing was more seductive than this eminently harmonious ensemble of rich and shimmering silks and elegant and fine lace! This was French furnishing, the Parisian taste par excellence.

More sober in their effects, more classical, but no less remarkable were the exhibitions of other manufacturers.

M. Besselière fils, of Maromme, maintained with brilliance the justified reputation of his beautiful prints, among which one noticed especially a delicious Japanese piece in molten tones, the finish of which was such that one could have believed it was made with a brush.

Mr. Lorthiois-Laurent et fils were only able to present a glimpse of their extensive production due to the limited space available. Jacquard 3, 4 and 5 pile carpets, velvets and linen plushes stood out for the harmony of the shades, the taste which had governed the composition of the designs and the finish of the manufacture.

L. Chanée et Cie had accomplished the feat of rejuvenating the old Utrecht velvet. With a perfect combination of delicate and vivid shades that harmonised in the most felicitous way, with a series of embossing designs of the purest style, the beautiful and meticulous manufacture of this powerful house asserted itself once again. Machine-made tapestry panels, woven with high quality cotton and of an extraordinary low price, gave this exhibition a very interesting practical value.

The stand of Mr. N. Piquée and his sons was devoted exclusively to Utrecht velvet and its derivatives. To the plain, embossed, striated, catis and ombré velvets, Messrs. Piquée and his sons had added very interesting prints by the choice of designs and a very remarkable reconstitution of old velvets by weaving or by printing, they had thus succeeded in making Utrecht velvet a real novelty.

MM. Legrand frères exhibited the relief prints on velvet and cloth which they have made their speciality. The variety of the designs, the choice of the shades, affirmed once more the good taste and the industrial skill of the heads of this old house known to all the buyers of furniture. The high competence of Mr. Charles Legrand and his untiring devotion to the defence of the interests of his principals had designated him for the high functions of president of the Group XII jury.

Finally, Messrs. H. Parison et Cie had added to the Utrecht velvet of which they manufacture all varieties, specimens of their new mechanical manufacture of linen velvet and plush, Jacquard cotton velvet, Genoa velvet, plain and damask silks.

The exhibits presented by the nine French participants in class 71 also contributed to the decoration of the rooms grouped around the Salon d'Honneur stand. Frames, mirrors, models and interior design projects were fixed here and there on the partitions.

The exhibition of the ceramic industry, class 72, was most interesting. Having in it the evocative charm of its kinship with ancient terracotta, recalling the efforts of that noble Bernard Palissy, it joins to its own beauty another more gripping beauty, because it reaches the spirit directly.

Moreover, this branch of the decorative industry is very important, especially at a time when modern demands combine pure beauty with a concern for cleanliness and hygiene. Ceramics fully meets these requirements.

The French participation in this class included magnificent ceramics applied to architecture: staniferous earthenware by Mr. Jules Loebnitz, art enamels whose calculated vitrification produced superb colour effects, artistic stoneware, mosaics, etc.

There were also friezes composed of Assyrian motifs from the ruins of Korsabad, by Messrs. Janin frères and Guérineau, who also exhibited enormous basins borrowed from the Romans; ceramic reproductions from the ruins of Nineveh, Babylon and Byzantium. Among the more ordinary products and therefore of greater consumption, we found refractory products, such as asbestos-based ceramics for filters and electric accumulators, from Messrs. Méran frères, tiles, ceramic tiles, glazed bricks and finally vitrifiable colours.

Class 73 was devoted to crystals and glassware.

Their representation was most varied, ranging from simple bottles to glasses for optical instruments and fine, artistically coloured crystals.

In the field of science, there were glasses for microscopy, micographic studies, telephony, micro-telephony, chemical analysis, and the conservation of serums, from Messrs. Appert frères, and in a different order, perforated glasses for hygienic ventilation, special glasses in tubes for steam boiler levels, with high resistance and low coefficient of expansion, photophores, coloured glasses for stained glass and for lighthouses, from the same company.
Among the everyday items, special attention was paid to large glass, glass baths, polished tiles, special glass with stripes, diamonds, hammered, sandblasted, etc., and numerous bottles of all shapes and capacities.

The greatest variety was found in artistic glass and crystal objects. These were the frail shelf vases, drinking glasses of various shades and shapes, precious as flowers, sometimes taking on the forms of them, all trinkets which seemed destined to be handled by light women's hands or to contain brilliant and perfumed dessert liquors.

One was still examining a series of lamps and electric chandeliers, of a collected and intimate translucence, by MM. Daum frères.

The heating and ventilation industry participated in class 74.

The main French companies exhibited various heating and ventilation appliances, including stoves by Chapuis, boilers, stoves and equipment for large kitchens by the Société des fourneaux Briffault, sheet metal boilers with dryer for low pressure heating, steam kitchen kettles, taps and special appliances for baths and showers, sterilising appliances for operating theatres, etc., by the engineer-constructor A. Stoft, of Paris.

Lastly, class 74 included non-electric lighting devices and processes, either coal gas or acetylene.

Among the best-known products exhibited in this class were calcium, barium and strontium carbides, various acetylene nozzles with conjugated jets and air mixtures, devices for storing dissolved acetylene, acetylene-producing devices, and various brochures relating to the gas lighting industry.

Three exhibitors, with their new devices, attracted the special attention of technicians.

The Paul Mallet company, specialised from the outset in the chemical part of the coal gas industry, had perfected its first processes for the production of volatile alkali and ammonia chloride by means of both gas plant water and black water, by starting the study of stirred columns.

These allow the methodical distillation of thick liquids while achieving a considerable improvement in the hygienic conditions of the operation. Previously carried out in boilers, excluding the use of lime and requiring prolonged decantation followed by desiccation, this operation was costly for the manufacturer and unhealthy for the neighbourhood.

The adaptation of the agitated column, which made the use of lime possible and allowed the simultaneous treatment of liquids and solids, transformed the treatment of sewage into a simple, economical and harmless operation, while rendering a signal service to public health.

For the tar purification of lighting gas, which had long been provided by shock condensers, the same company had devised a special arrangement which allowed the continuous cleaning of the perforated bells of these appliances and thus avoided any obstruction caused by excessive deposits of naphthalene.

According to the treaties still in force in France, between certain operating companies and the municipalities concerned, the gas used for lighting, delivered for public consumption, must have a minimum lighting power. In order to fulfil this condition, despite the variations in the quality of the distilled coals and the hazards of manufacture, it is sometimes necessary to enrich the gas obtained with carbides. The Société des Huiles Minérales de Colombes, in response to this need, had devised an apparatus that solved the problem in an economical and rational way, by allowing the quantity of fuel required to be added to the gas produced continuously and in proportion to production.

A general drawing exhibited by this company showed, together with the operation of the apparatus, the recommended arrangement.

The latest progress in the use of acetylene lies mainly in the use of this gas for autogenous welding of metals, a process superior to those hitherto employed. The flame of a good oxyacetylene torch, containing neither free carbide nor oxidising gases, is preferable, from the practical point of view, to the oxidising flame and to the electric arc which is fuel. As for the temperature obtained, it is absolutely equivalent to that of the electric arc.

On the basis of these data, an engineer, Mr. Fouché, devised a torch which met the conditions of convenience and guarantees desirable for the success of autogenous welding operations.

Class 75 ended group XII which, in most of its attributions, was able to interest the majority of the visitors.

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition Universelle de Liège 1905