Glasgow, the Art Nouveau Movement and Cake

Over the years that we’ve travelled up to Scotland, every time we’d planned to pop over to Glasgow, something got in the way. Christmas snowstorms, temptation by way of Peebles Fish and chips, lazy weekend afternoons, a rampant fire through Glasgow School of Arts and sheer unbridled disorganization.

Willow Tea Rooms Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

But, we finally made it to Glasgow. We intentionally planned a couple of days there to relax after an intensive road trip into the breathtaking landscapes of the Scottish Highlands. It was somewhere that I’d always wanted to visit – mostly spurned by my love of architectural details and a burgeoning fascination for Art Deco and Art Nouveau (you know who you are).

I lived in the Art Deco capital of the world for a few years (in case you’re wondering, it’s Napier in New Zealand – the architectural legacy of a big earthquake there in the 1920s) so I was intrigued to see how Glasgow – which lets be fair hasn’t got the most, well, refined of reputations – became so associated with such a glamourous design style. (Also, in case you’re wondering Art Nouveau is a more decorative style, Art Deco is sleeker.)Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Around the city, Art Nouveau touches decorate many of the buildings which is delightful. The streets can switch from shimmering modernism to sleek, delightful ironmongery in the same block.

Why? Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a Scottish architect, designer, water colourist and artist. His artistic approach had much in common with European Symbolism and his work, alongside that of his wife Margaret Macdonald, was influential on European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism.  

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

He and his wife had a huge involvement in the internationally renowned Glasgow School of Arts…

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

…which in turn had an effect on the city.

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Flitting from modern building to arts and craft style edifices, we visited a temporary exhibition where the unique furniture was displayed (but not with it’s full glory, but it was enough to slake our curiosity.) 

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Would I recommend visiting? Absolutely. The beautiful pieces, the curious history and the telling of some of Mackintosh’s shenanigans has us smiling from ear to ear.

What a guy.

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Eventually, sadly, making our way out of the singed building (stopping to appreciate the gorgeous curves of many pieces) we decided that the only place we could go to satisfy our Wednesday afternoon thirst…

Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

… was to the beautiful Willow Tearooms. 

Willow Tea Rooms Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Filled with a pleasant buzz (these photos taken once the crowds had melted back into the shops) the Willow Tearooms are tearooms designed by that aforementioned internationally renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which opened for business in October 1903. They quickly gained enormous popularity, and are the most famous of the many Glasgow tearooms that opened in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Willow Tea Rooms Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

See those gorgeous lines? Design heaven.

Willow Tea Rooms Art Deco Glasgow Mackintosh

Not to mention a delicious array of cake.

We loved walking through the halls of design history – then toddled off to the Glasgow Transport Museum because we’re cool like that… (it was actually really brilliant!)

Do you enjoy reliving past travels like I did with this post? It had lurked in my drafts forever and a day, so I knew it needed to be aired even though it was eons ago…

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