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How to Decorate Halls, Booths, and Automobiles
As many of you know, I have an extensive library dedicated to decoration. Some of the books are of august import and others are considered ephemeral and would only be of tangential interest to most readers. The earliest books have relatively few pictures and rely on prose to explain design. It is always interesting to read about something visual, especially without the aid of pictures. An author must point out the obvious and the complex in practical prose. I find reading this literature a good way to understand and improve my designs, even reading the most modest of texts.
In general, it is hard to be didactic about design, because a large part of it is innate and inexplicable. As they say, you have to have talent or an eye for design, and an eye can be educated. Of course, this is what almost all design books are about--imparting the knowledge or so-called rules of good decoration (or at least what is considered so at the time of its creation.)
Last night I looked at one of my obscure books, "How to Decorate Halls, Booths and Automobiles," a 1927 volume published by the Dennison Manufacturing Company dedicated to decorating with crepe papers, especially for parties and events. This volume amuses me because it points out both the obvious and the novel in an unusual way.
A declaratory statement sets the tone: "Bright, colorful decorations create an atmosphere of gaiety and put people in a mood to be amused and entertained whether the occasion is a banquet, dance, bazaar or other gala event."
I particularly like the notes on color schemes:
"The main thing to consider when a hall is to be decorated is the color scheme and the principal units of decoration. The first impression as people enter the hall is the one to be considered. Therefore, the center chandelier, stage or balconies are naturally effective places on which to arrange the most elaborate decorations.
The separate light fixtures can be decorated so that they form the center of interest, and if several are trimmed alike with groups of streamers or festoons connecting them, wonderfully attractive results may be obtained.
You cannot go wrong in choosing pink yellow or lavender for your decorative scheme but blue, particularly the lighter tones, does not light up well and should be avoided for whole decorations. Blue may, however if necessary to carry out class or college colors, be combined effectively with white and gold.
Bizarre effects that are so often required for Mardi Gras, Oriental and carnival decorations may well combine: red, orange, jade green, purple, bright blue and violet with touches of black and gold."
Notably, the illustrations in the book are simple black and white drawings. However, they are informative, too. Hence in combination with the text, "How to Decorate Halls, Booths and Automobiles" is a telling piece of design education.
(I find it ironic that I recently wrote about the successful dearth of decoration at the Royal Caledonian Ball in London.)