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Revitalising Art Deco in Glasgow: a journey into antique restoration

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Although its golden time was a century ago, Art Deco has left strong deep roots in Glasgow aesthetics. This influential design movement is not only evident in the city’s historic architecture but also in a fascinating realm of art known as antique restoration. Within this realm, Art Deco items that once had a purpose but have since fallen out of use are being meticulously revived and rejuvenated.

In this captivating article, we embark on a journey to explore the enduring presence of Art Deco in Glasgow’s architecture. We delve into the city’s iconic buildings that showcase the timeless allure of Art Deco. Then we move on to see how stylish Art Deco items are brought back to life by antique restoration, responsible for revamping items that had a function and for some reason stopped to be used.

Stay with us, beauty is on its way.

The presence of Art Deco in Glasgow

Reflecting the era of exuberance and forward-thinking in the early 20th century, Glasgow is home to numerous striking examples of Art Deco design. Still today impressive Art Deco legacy buildings can be seen in town, such as:

  • The Beresford Hotel: located at 460 Sauchiehall Street, it is Glasgow's first skyscraper built between the I and II World Wars to host visitors of the Empire Exhibition. Currently hosting private apartments, Beresford stands as a noteworthy Art Deco masterpiece, with its streamlined, symmetrical facade and curved corners.

beresford hotel
  • Paramount Cinema: inaugurated on December 31st, 1934, this Art Deco masterpiece is located at the corner of Renfield and West Regent Street. After serving for a long time as a cinema, now just its façade remains. Yet, it’s another of Glasgow’s Art Deco gems, showcasing an elaborate, stylised façade with vertical emphasis and intricate detailing.

paramount cinema glasgow
  • Daily Express Building: located on 145 Albion Street, the ex-Daily Express Building was built in the 30s with its black vitrolite and silver detailing offer a distinctive contrast to the neighbouring structures. It can still be fully seen in all its splendour.

daily express building glasgow
  • India of Inchinnan: located just outside Glasgow, in Renfrew, it is an industrial building originally conceived to build airships. Despite most of the original industrial plant was demolished, the offices, the most iconic part of the original Art Deco building, stand still to be contemplated.

Glasgow’s residential architecture also embraces Art Deco style, with numerous private homes featuring smooth wall surfaces, flat roofs, and horizontal window arrangements. Also, inside the houses Art Deco also made a significant impact on Glasgow's interior design and furnishings, from stylish light fixtures to ornate mirrors and elegant furniture pieces.

City’s architecture reflects Glasgow industrial prosperity during the 1920s and 30s, symbolizing the optimism of that era. Today, these architectural marvels continue to punctuate the cityscape, reminding locals and tourists alike of Glasgow's rich history and the timeless allure of Art Deco design.

Antique restoration: making tired or worn items fit for today’s use

Art Deco items are a treasure trove of Glasgow's rich architectural and design history. From ornate mirrors with geometric patterns to chrome and Bakelite light fixtures, these relics from the early 20th century add a touch of vintage elegance to any modern home. But often, these wee gems have seen better days, and that's where the skill of antique restoration comes into play. The aim is not only to rejuvenate these Art Deco items, but also to ensure they're fit for use in today's world, bridging the gap between the past and present in a tangible and stylish way.

That’s what we do at Battlefield Restoration, dedicating our craft to breathing new life into these Art Deco pieces. It's a task that requires not just a keen eye, but also a deep understanding of the design principles and materials that characterise the Art Deco era. In this article you read more about Art Deco fireplaces restoration.

Each piece is carefully cleaned, repaired, and when necessary, delicately retouched to preserve its original charm. The goal is to strike a balance between restoring the item's former glory and ensuring it meets the practical needs of modern use. A beautifully restored Art Deco coffee table or a vintage radio can become a stunning statement piece in a contemporary living room.

Glaswegians take great pride in this process of rejuvenation - it's about paying homage to the city's Art Deco legacy while making these items relevant for today's use. So, whether it's a geometrically patterned rug, a chrome-plated lamp, or an upholstered club chair, restoring these Art Deco items is a way to keep city’s history alive and kicking.

Antique restoration challenges

Restoring Art Deco items, by bringing them back to their glamours and functional state, might be challenging sometimes, in different ways. Let’s see a couple of them.

The style

First it is necessary to choose items that properly represent the Art Deco style, without them being mixed with other periods. This way, once they are restored, they become a daily usable product while being stylish.

Sometimes it happens that an item has been modified through time, so that stablishing its original state is also something essential in reviving its essence and integrity.

The method

Second, once an item is selected, deciding how to restore it plays an important role. Depending on the entity of the damage, a certain method might reveal itself too expensive for that particular item.

In the picture below, one chair that we found with veneer damage in a garage and challenged the method to become viable.

art deco chair restored

In the case above, repaired treating the leather and receiving some coating in the wood, it was possible to make it a daily use item instead of ageing in some corner of a garage.

Examples of Art Deco restored items

In this carousel we can admire some of the items carefully restored in our workshop, gaining a whole new course of life.

If you liked any of these, visit us to see them exhibited at our shop.

Shiny Art Deco items for 2023 use

As we have seen above, Art Deco is quite alive. Today, these Art Deco treasures are being lovingly restored to their former glory by Battlefield Restoration dedicated Glaswegian craftsmen.

Through skilled restoration processes, these items are not only rejuvenated aesthetically, but also upgraded to serve the practical needs of modern living. As such, Glasgow's Art Deco legacy is not confined to the past but brought forward into 2023, offering a stylish blend of vintage elegance and contemporary utility.

Despite the challenges, the reward of restoring these pieces is immense. There's a certain joy in seeing a once worn and tired piece transformed into a functional and aesthetically pleasing item that's ready to be used and appreciated once again.

For Glaswegians, it's about keeping a bit of history alive while adding a touch of class to their homes. So, if you live outside Glasgow, the next time you're in Glasgow, keep your peepers open for a restored antique - it's a great way to take home a wee piece of the city's history and character.

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