Chayyei Sarah links to an interesting article she's written about the world wide success of Israeli jewellery designer Michal Negrin, who produces elaborate fin-de-siecle style costume jewellery and household objects. Sarah suggests that Negrin's work is inspired by images of the British ruling class. She finds this particularly ironic, since Negrin was brought up on a kibbutz, that ultimate home of personal utilitarianism, and her great uncle was David Ben-Gurion, years of whose life were devoted to getting the British out of what became the state of Israel.
She invites her readers to guess what she herself thinks of the products.
I think the fact that she says Negrin's style is" not everybody's (hand-painted, porcelain) cup of tea" and that her designs seem "jarringly" out of character for an Israeli artist suggests Chayyei Sarah doesn't like her products. Plus the very fact that she asks for commenters to guess what her own views are.... in the past she has written enthusiastically about products she's been commissioned to write about.
I really don't think Negrin's jewellery style reflects the British ruling class/monarchy so much as the Czarist rulers of Russia. True Brit ruling class style was never into the elaborate painted, multicoloured jewellery style that characterizes much of Negrin's work, whereas there is a clear link to the work of Faberge, the leading jeweller of the Czarist court. The British Royal Family of those days tended to have a strict jewellery-wearing code: pearls for daytime and diamonds for evening wear. The Brit upper class even of Victorian times would have found Michal Negrin's style vulgar and nouveau riche....And I think contemporary US and British liberal/sophisticated writers inherit those attitudes to some extent.
Negrin's style on printed objects and papers is also the style of mass-produced Victorian and Edwardian scrapbook cut-outs-- I'm sure it's directly derived from those designs. That visual heritage derives from technology bringing colour printing and visual fantasy objects to the working class people of those days--not to the visual style of the ruling class. Take a look round Queen Victoria's personal effects in her private palace of Osborne in the Isle of Wight, and you will find precious little that chimes with Negrin's work. But go and look in the Victoria and Albert museum and the Bethnal Green museum at objects made for the lower middle and artisan classes, and you'll recognise the heritage instantly.
My favourite Tel Aviv cousin introduced my then ten year old daughter and me to Michal Negrin's Sheinkin Street shop in 1995---she bought my daughter a set of hair slides which Michal Negrin modified to her specifications. I liked the slides very much for the fact that they managed not to look like fake versions of precious stones.
I'm just as influenced as anyone else by puritanical liberal middle class ideas which value minimalism and restraint in design. So I do find most of Negrin's current work over the top; she seems to have filled the romantic nostalgia gap that was formerly the province of Laura Ashley, but it's as if she's done it on superspeed. What I'm most interested in about her is her extraordinary success in building a world wide brand after starting from a market stall in Tel-Aviv. That sort of story doesn't happen without an incredible level of hard work, attention to detail and meticulous business practice.
Good luck to her.