Not currently on display at the V&A

Les cigognes d'Alsace

Lift Cage
1922 (designed), 1928 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

These elevator panels were made for the London department store, Selfridges, established in 1909. They demonstrate how public spaces like department stores gave ordinary people access to luxury styles, as well as luxury goods. Designed by Edgar Brandt, they are typical of his work in uniting flat, stylised and geometric patterns, with organic references. The three storks (the cicognes of the title) circle around a sun, as beams of light radiate outwards. The incorporation of birds associates the panels with flight and elevation, while the shimmering, bronzed colours adds a sense of glamour.

Brandt was keen to experiment with new materials and techniques, utilising the newer electric-shot welding process. He also electroplated in various metals, creating the depth of colour that is evident here. To complete his designs, he employed hundreds of specialists.

Brandt enjoyed particular success in New York, where his complex metalwork designs echoed the ambitious steel structures rising up across the city. He quickly established the New York studio Ferrobrandt, which created interior fixtures and fittings, as well as exterior panels and doors that tied in perfectly with the strong geometrical lines of the Manhattan skyline.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 17 parts.

  • Panel
  • Panel
  • Panel
  • Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
  • Metal Trim
  • Decorative Metalwork
  • Side Panel
  • Side Panel
Additional titleThe storks of Alsace (assigned by artist)
Materials and techniques
Lacquer, iron, bronze and wood
Brief description
Panels from lift; metal, glass and wood; French, 1922-1928, designed by Edgar Brandt for Selfridges
Physical description
Lacquer, iron, bronze and wood panels designed an interlocking stork motif circling the sun, contained within a hexagonal shape from which a starburst of beams and spirals radiate.
Dimensions
  • Circ.719 6 1971 depth: 46.3cm
  • Circ.719 6 1971 width: 195.2cm
  • Circ.719 7 1971 depth: 46.2cm
  • Circ.719 7 1971 width: 195cm
  • Circ.719 7 1971 depth: 46.2cm
  • Circ.719 9 1971 depth: 27.5cm
  • Circ.719 9 1971 width: 194cm
  • Circ.719 11 1971 depth: 27.2cm
  • Circ.719 11 1971 width: 196cm
  • Circ.719 12 1971 depth: 27.2cm
  • Circ.719 12 1971 width: 107cm
  • Circ.719 13 1971 depth: 27.5cm
  • Circ.719 13 1971 width: 195.7cm
  • Circ.719 14 1971 depth: 18cm
  • Circ.719 14 1971 width: 152cm
  • Circ.719 15 1971 depth: 17cm
  • Circ.719 15 1971 width: 195cm
  • Circ.719 17 1971 depth: 27.2cm
  • Circ.719 17 1971 width: 48cm
  • Circ.719 18 1971 depth: 33cm
  • Circ.719 18 1971 width: 210cm
  • Circ.719 2 1971 height: 194cm
  • Circ.719 2 1971 depth: 94.7cm
  • Circ.719 3 1971 height: 194cm
  • Circ.719 3 1971 depth: 150cm
  • Circ.719 10 1971 height: 194cm
  • Circ.719 10 1971 depth: 150cm
  • Circ.719 1 1971 height: 204cm
  • Circ.719 1 1971 width: 154cm (Circ.719:1-1971)
  • Depth: 77cm (Circ.719:1-1971)
  • Depth: 5cm (Circ.719:1-1971)
all dimensions rather estimates than precise as taken while objects on racks (Jana Scholze, 23/02/2010)
Style
Marks and inscriptions
Plate on Circ.719:9-1971 reads 'To carry 19 Passengers'
Object history
This lift was one of several installed in the Selfridges department store in 1928. It was removed from the building during renovation work, 1970-72. Another of the lifts is in the collection of the Museum of London (see MoL ID no. 72.265) and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery collection.



Historical significance: Henry Wilson, reviewing the metalwork in the Paris 1925 Exhibition, recognized Brandt's adoption of innovative techniques and new approaches to form and construction. Brandt's work, he wrote, 'was no longer pure smith work, but the product of the development of autogenous soldering', and his construction 'is taken up into the rhythm of design, when it comes subordinate to general form'. Gillian Naylor. 'Consicence and Consumption: Art Deco in Britain'. 'Art Deco: 1910 - 1939' (London: V&A, 2003) 238
Historical context
By the 1920s Selfridges was the most glamorous department store in London. American shopping magnate Gordon Selfridge had opened the Oxford Street store in 1909.



Selfridges initially employed young women to operate the store lifts but, after World War II, they were replaced by disabled ex-servicemen. [text taken from Museum of London website]



Subjects depicted
Association
Summary
These elevator panels were made for the London department store, Selfridges, established in 1909. They demonstrate how public spaces like department stores gave ordinary people access to luxury styles, as well as luxury goods. Designed by Edgar Brandt, they are typical of his work in uniting flat, stylised and geometric patterns, with organic references. The three storks (the cicognes of the title) circle around a sun, as beams of light radiate outwards. The incorporation of birds associates the panels with flight and elevation, while the shimmering, bronzed colours adds a sense of glamour.



Brandt was keen to experiment with new materials and techniques, utilising the newer electric-shot welding process. He also electroplated in various metals, creating the depth of colour that is evident here. To complete his designs, he employed hundreds of specialists.



Brandt enjoyed particular success in New York, where his complex metalwork designs echoed the ambitious steel structures rising up across the city. He quickly established the New York studio Ferrobrandt, which created interior fixtures and fittings, as well as exterior panels and doors that tied in perfectly with the strong geometrical lines of the Manhattan skyline.
Bibliographic reference
London, Victoria & Albert Museum. Art Deco: 1910-1939 (London, V&A, 2003) 238. ISBN 1 85177 387 8
Collection
Accession number
CIRC.719:1 to 19-1971

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Record createdAugust 1, 2007
Record URL
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