Designer Desire: Lefor Openo

Lefor Openo artwork mosaic | H is for Home

Welcome to our new blog series, ‘Designer Desire’, where we’ll feature one designer per week whose work we love. We’re kicking off with Lefor Openo who we’ve mentioned once or twice before.

Lefor Openo comprised of two French women, Marie-Claire Lefort and Marie-Francine Oppeneau. They met while studying at Lycée Claude-Bernard Paris, and collaborated from 1955 to 1967. They were primarily poster artists; their designs were used extensively by Loterie Nationale (the national lottery of France). They designed posters for Charles de Gaulle – for the 1958 constitutional referendum and again for his 1965 presidential election campaign. They also produced advertising artwork for other organisations and brands such as Electricité de France, Kodak, Singer Sewing Machines. They designed a poster for the 1959 film Babette s’en va-t-en guerre, (Babette goes to War) starring Brigitte Bardot. Apparently, she is the one upon whom they based most of their ‘models’.

As well as posters, very occasionally you’ll come across postcards and tea towels bearing their designs on Etsy and eBay. We’ve also seen evidence of a doll and a couple of pin dishes from the era and we have a tin in our shop which we believe to be one of their designs – we’ve never seen another!

Marie-Claire Lefort died in 1971 and Marie-Francine Oppeneau is now 81 years old. Once upon a time, there was a basic website with information and images of some of their designs but it seems to have been allowed to expire. If you know (or want to find out) anything more about them and their designs, please leave a comment below.

Marie-Claire Lefort & Marie-Francine Oppeneau of Lefor Openo

Bidasoa folk art pot

Vintage Bidasoa porcelain lidded pot | H is for Home

It’s always nice to pick up a piece of pottery by a company of which we’ve not previously been aware. This was the case with this gorgeous lidded pot that we bought at the local flea market last week. It was produced by Bidasoa who were founded in 1934 and are one of the premier porcelain manufacturers in Spain.

Base stamp on a vintage Bidasoa porcelain pot | H is for Home

We think this particular piece dates from the 1960s era. It’s just gut instinct – there isn’t another example of this particular pattern in any of our reference books, or indeed the internet that we’ve managed to find – quite amazing really.

Detail of a vintage Bidasoa porcelain lidded pot | H is for Home

We absolutely love the folk art design featuring trees, flowers, stag, fox, goose, hare – and hunters on foot & horseback. If we didn’t already know that it was Spanish, we’d say it had to be Scandinavian. Perhaps the artist responsible is Scandinavian, but we haven’t identified who designed it as yet.

Detail of a vintage Bidasoa porcelain lidded pot | H is for Home

We were curious as to what other products Bidasoa produced so we’ve been trawling the web. It’s a mixed bag, but in amongst their wares is ‘Block’ dining ware produced in 1969 – an under-rated classic design we’d say – particularly in the black and white colourways (entitled ‘Noche’ and ‘Blanca’. We’ve just been saying that if we’d seen it at the recent Tibor Reich exhibition in Manchester it wouldn’t have looked out of place. So Bidasoa is now something we’ll keep an eye out for – always good to keep learning!

Vintage Bidasoa Block 'Blanco' coffee setVintage Bidasoa Block 'Noche' coffee set

Vintage Bidasoa Block 'Noche' condiment set Vintage Bidasoa Block part tea set

Bidasoa Block ‘Noche’ coffee set for sale on One Kings Lane | Bidasoa Block ‘Noche’ coffee set for sale on Etsy

It’s a bit Fishy

Detail of yellow and mauve Aquarius fish plate | H is for Home

Last week, we featured a wonderful set of vintage bull plates – this week we have some equally fantastic fish plates!

Stacked set of vintage Aquarius fish plates | H is for Home

We bought five of the set in a single purchase and then managed to track down the missing plate in the following days.

Full set of vintage Aquarius fish plates | H is for Home

It’s now a fabulous and complete set of six.

Collection of vintage Aquarius fish plates | H is for Home

They’re highly stylised with beautiful detailing – dancing air bubbles, fluttering scales and swirling fins. We certainly haven’t seen anything similar in the local rivers or canals!

Back stamp on a vintage Aquarius fish plate | H is for Home

They’re from the Aquarius range produced by Washington Pottery in the 1960s. In 1970, Washington Pottery became English Ironstone Pottery Ltd. Three years later, it became English Ironstone Tableware Ltd, so you can trace the age of an item from its back stamp.

Detail from a purple & orange Aquarius fish plate | H is for Home

As with the bull plates, these colourful fish plates would look amazing displayed on a long shelf or mounted on a wall. Both types are listed in our web shop.

More Menus!

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Vintage German menus from a Norddeutscher Lloyd cruise

Our last vintage menus post proved popular – and most of the examples that we featured in it prior to listing in the web shop have now sold.

Vintage German menus from a Norddeutscher Lloyd cruise

We thought we’d share some more of our collection over the coming weeks…

Details from vintage German menus from Norddeutscher Lloyd cruise

…starting with this collection of cruise ship menus dating from the late 1960s.

Details from vintage German menus from Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen cruise

They were produced for the German company, Norddeutscher Lloyd Bremen.

Vintage menu illustration details from a Norddeutscher Lloyd cruise

We like the combination of stark pen & ink drawing with bold, partial colouring. They’re very distinctive – the artist’s signature looks like Geißler, but we can’t seem to find any mention of him anywhere on the internet. Can anyone out there shed some light?

Vintage menu with cover illustration of men playing bowls in a park Vintage menu with cover illustration of suns

Vintage menu with cover illustration of birds Vintage menu with cover illustration of fish

This particular set would look fabulous with simple black frames against a large expanse of white wall. The vibrant colours would really leap out and draw you in to take a closer look.

Cruising Again

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Vintage Royal Viking Star cruise menus from 1975

We’ve got some more vintage cruise menus to share with you – our friend Emma, who used to run the wonderful Wooden Donkey empire, sent us a package containing various vintage Royal Viking Star cruise menus out of the blue this week. What an unexpected treat that was!

Vintage Royal Viking cruise luncheon menu detail

With the new additions, we were able make up a lovely set of ten menus from this particular cruise. They date from the mid 1970s and were given to passengers en route to Acapulco. Aren’t they fabulous? The artwork is stunning. They really capture the Mexican vibe – and the style is so characteristic of the time. One of those occasions when the phrase “good enough to frame” is very apt.

Vintage Royal Viking Star menu cover from 1975

We’d love a huge wall display of vintage menus. We’ve got the menus – we must be up to about a hundred now… we just need the huge empty wall – oh, and the framing might bankrupt us! They’re such a great thing to collect for us. We’re obviously attracted to the cover artwork in the first instance, but being former chefs, the food on offer inside is also very interesting.

Vintage Royal Viking Star dinner menu

Whether it’s dishes or menu phrases that seem to have been lost in time, dishes or ingredients we’ve never heard of – or mentally choosing what we’d fancy to eat on that given day!

'Chef's Suggestion' on a vintage Royal Viking Star dinner menu

We’ve got a few duplicates of this set and quite a few others too, so we think we might start putting some into the What’s Cooking? department of the H is for Home shop. They’d make the perfect decoration for kitchen walls or shelves.

Vintage Royal Viking Star cruise menus from 1975

If you fancy starting your own vintage menu collection, get in touch and we’ll let you know what’s available. Bon Voyage!

Alice About The House

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Vintage Alice About The House book cover

We’ve just bought this great little book at the local market. Initially, it was the front cover that grabbed our attention – an eye-popping red & yellow – you couldn’t really miss it!!

Thompson Newspapers Ltd, publishers of Alice About The House

Before we opened it we guessed it must have dated from the 1950s/60s period. And so it turned out, being published by Thomson Newspapers Ltd in 1960.

'Eyebrow Pencils' and 'Eye Make-Up' from Alice About The House

It’s called ‘Alice about the House’ and as the name suggests, features Alice and all manner of domestic challenges.

'Lamb Leftovers' comic strip

Various scenarios spring up from the perfect sponge cake to electrocution!

'Cookery Nook' from Alice About The House

Much of it takes the form of comic strips.

'First Aid' from Alice About The House

The illustrations are fabulous – and so are some of the story lines.

'Bulbs, Bedding Plants and Seeds' from Alice About The House

As you might guess, it’s full of handy hints. Some are still relevant today, others belong to a bygone era. Both aspects make it a very entertaining read – the price is £10 including UK postage for anyone interested.