January 6, 2011

What's in a name?

via Cafe Press

As William Shakespeare so bluntly put it, "What's in a name?" For some time now, I've wanted to create this space; this unknown nameless space that's been in my mind for months and months. I've been gathering images and ideas and products on my tumblr and pinterest in preparation, even though I wasn't entirely sure what it was exactly in preparation for. And even now, now that the step has been taken to make this space a reality, I'm still unsure what exactly it will become. I'm okay with that, as I need a little "unknown" in my life right now and the freedom that it provides to take this in whatever direction I desire.

But back to Shakespeare's infamous question and a name. With the intangibility of this "unknown", I wasn't sure how I would ever decide on naming this space. I suppose as all things meant to be happen, the name found me. Pouncing around Etsy one day months back, I happened upon this beautiful ornamental chromolithograph - it took my breath away. I immediately added it to my favorites and continued on to other things.

Persian No. 4A. Plate 47A via bananastrudel

Some weeks, perhaps months, later, I rediscovered this beautiful antique chromolithograph while adding things to my pinterest. Reading a bit more about it,  I learned that its a book plate from the famous 19th century work The Grammar of Ornament by the British architect and designer, Owen Jones. As an art history enthusiast, I was surprised I had not heard of this book before and immediately went in search of more background on it.

According to Wikipedia: "Jones gathered together these samples of ornament as ‘best’ examples of decoration in an attempt to encourage designers to follow his lead in examining the underlying principles contained within the broad history of ornament and polychromy. The Grammar was hugely influential in design schools in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and is still in print today, maintaining its relevance as a source of inspiration for contemporary designers."

Persian No 2 (plate 45), image #8 via Wikipedia
Not only did Jones concept of the book inspire me, but the name itself. It got me thinking, what is my grammar of ornament? What are the best examples of decoration in my home, in my personal style, in my life? And I realized that the answers to these questions are exactly the things I've been collecting and storing away in preparation for this space. So, it only made sense that I name this space My Grammar of Ornament; and in it, I do look forward to sharing all things that adorn and decorate my life; from food I'm cooking, to books I'm reading, to pictures I'm taking, to art I'm into and music I'm listening to, to items I'm buying (or wishing I could buy, as often is the case). I'm sure I'll touch on many things I wish my life was adorned with and hopefully one day will be adorned with too!

So welcome to My Grammar of Ornament! I hope some of the things I share with you will help you shape and determine your own grammar of ornament...

Figure 14 'Indian No. 4' example 11 via V&A Museums

To view a digital copy of The Grammar of Ornament online, including excerpts and images please visit the Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture.

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