I’ve always been equivocal about decoration and ornament in architecture. Possibly because it requires much knowledge of craft, and an orderly imagination But a recent visit to the V&A (always too brief, there’s just so much to enjoy) made me re-think when, in passing through Ironwork, I saw a section of lift gates from a Louis Sullivan building (sorry, no more detail than that) and I was bowled over by its simple elegance:
I was on my way to the newly-reopened Cast Courts, full of remarkable replica castings of everything from small figures to the whole of Trajan’s Column (in two parts, to fit the still impressively tall space). I was particularly taken by a section of carving from a Norwegian Stave church, not just for the skill with which it had been cast and painted to look like the orginal (I can only assume, as the church is long since lost to fire - thank goodness someone took that casting).
OK, so it’s not architectural, but my eye was also caught, taking a shortcut through Japan, by this very elegant silk fabric for a 19th century kimono.
Maybe I’m going to have to be braver with the finishing details in the future?