By Karen Parr-Moody
When it comes to summertime, taking a trip is second nature. So it’s no surprise that GasLamp is full of décor options that travel in a vacation-themed direction, from well-worn suitcases to vintage globes to retro swim trunks. Even when one isn’t a stylish globetrotter, adding a few travel-themed items to a room conveys a romantic wanderlust that is irresistible.
In the photo, right, is a charming vignette that combines retro notions of beach travel. The polyester houndstooth swim trunks fit into the new genre of swimsuits that are frame-worthy ($45; B-101). Vintage swimsuits from the 1920s to the 1960s can truly be works of art. The ones from the 1950s, in particular, were pastiches of shirring, smocking and well-placed seams. That is why creative decorators are framing them as wall art for every area of the house, from the dining room to the powder room.
The “Tattoo” glass sign is another reminder of summer travel during days gone by ($58; B-101). The first U.S. tattoo parlor was opened after Samuel O'Reilly, a tattooer, adapted Thomas Edison's electric engraving pen in the 1890s in order to create the first electric tattooing machine. He set up in the Bowery of Manhattan, but within decades such parlors were found in seaside entertainment spots, such as New York’s Coney Island and California’s Long Beach. This sign is certainly a reminder of the heyday of tattoos gotten surf-side.
The 1961 National Geographic World Globe in the photo, left, is a fabulous Mid-century Modern find (photo, right; $58; Booth B-2012). It sits on an acrylic stand that is festooned with period-appropriate geometric shapes. But these are not merely design elements; they serve to measure latitude, distance and time relative to the globe’s placement within the stand. For example, place Chicago at midnight and it is 6 p.m. in Tokyo.
What faithful scribe would be without his trusty typewriter when traveling during the 1930s and 1940s? Owning a Royal “Quiet De Luxe” portable typewriter, like the one at right, was considered the height of technology at that time ($89; B-101). Royal created portables from the 1930s on, but the Quiet De Luxe became the flagship model. Then in the late ’40s, Royal rolled out a limited edition of this model that was plated in gold. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, owned this model, which was sold to 007 Pierce Brosnan for $86,000 in 1995, according to The New York Times.
If a pith helmet doesn’t say “adventure,” I don’t know what does. Such helmets, as seen in the photo at left, first appeared in India in the 1840s; they were then widely adopted by the British colonials in that country ($45; Booth B-110). In the last century, pith helmets have been seen in the movies “Zulu” (1964) and “Passage to India” (1984) and on the head of Harry Truman when vacationing at the Little White House in Key West.
Bags such as the vinyl Royal Ambassador TWA carry-on in the photo, right, were handed to passengers of first class before their international flights in the '60s and '70s ($62; Booth B-2012). Never mind that such travelers probably had well-worn Louis Vuitton suitcases already in their possession: That white vinyl look was so fresh for the time! Even today, this kicky bag, with its TWA logo and Royal Ambassador badge and ribbon, is a vintage lover’s dream. And it’s functional too, with a spacious interior and adjustable shoulder strap.
Whether one is taking off for a jungle exploration in a pith helmet, or simply decorating a dining room with bathing suits of the 1920s, vintage vacation items can be an inspiration. Romantic travel to yesteryear is easy with a quick trip to GasLamp. So make a shopping list and get packing!