Design advice comes in many forms these days. Magazines, books, blogs, TV, exhibitions and even films.
In those days, however, it was often a state or corporation voice guiding us inexorably toward good taste. The BBC had an awful lot to say about what constituted good art and design. They broadcast and published all sorts of mini-manifestos for the greater good.
Your Home and Mine was published in the Spring Term 1937. Part of the BBC’s Broadcasts to Schools. The text is by one Geoffrey Boumphrey (great name) an interesting chap who authored Shell guides and co-set up Finmar, early importers of Alvar Aalto.
He jumps straight in with a lovely big-up-modernism paragraph:
‘A house is a Machine for living in. A famous French architect said this a few years ago and a great many people did not understand him. They thought he must mean that a house ought to look like a piece of machinery – hard, shining, and certainly uncomfortable to live in. But he was quite right really. He wasn’t talking about what a house looks like. He was telling us what it is made for.’
What I like about a lot of this output is that it looks so great. Covers were commissioned from the cream of contemporary commercial artists. And although not obviously credited, this cover might contain a clue as to the artist responsible. The tiny inn sign contains the initials RG. If I were to guess I’d say it’s by Robert Gibbings. Evidenced by similar works here and there. Although it is a bit coarser than many of his other engravings, there is something about the shading and placement that makes me err on the Gibbings side.
This cover is actually rather quaint in content, setting the scene for the artsy-crafts design reform story the booklet unpacks. What was then was honest. What is now should be modernist. And not much left in between.