Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Timeless, opulent designs

The 112 splendid plates in Owen Jones' The Grammar of Ornament have been objects of admiration for aesthetes and a resource for designers ever since its publication in 1910. Reproductions sell for ~$25, but a digitized version of the original can be scrutinized here. I've collected a few of my (admittedly many) favorites below for your enjoyment. Above left is a detail of the leather cover and at right the frontispiece. The civilization for each example is indicated at the top (including the unfortunate "savage tribes" appellation!)

Tally ho!
Which are your favorites?
We currently have a plethora of affordable, similar volumes with copyright-free, full-color illustrations for the design-minded (or just for your viewing enjoyment). They include Art Nouveau Decorative Ornament, Historic Ornament and Design in Full Color, Victorian Decorative Borders and Designs, Ornamental Forms from Nature, and Ornament and Design of the Alhambra.


  1. I'm certainly partial to the Celtic pieces. However, they're all so gorgeous. The Illuminated manuscripts are phenomenal. The reproductions would certainly be a guilty pleasure...

  2. Some of the pieces are a bit busy but intricate and interesting. I like the Italian No. 1.

  3. These are some FANCY/CLASSY plates. I really enjoy Indian No.6.

  4. Chinese no.2 is my favorite. I like the colors and the variety of the designs.