I am happy to report that the spring issue of Modern Magazine features another one of my articles. Titled “Modernism on the Orient-Express”, it is a glimpse at the magnificent Art Deco interiors on board the world’s most mysterious and luxurious train, the Orient-Express. The inspiration for my article pulled into the beautiful Sirkeci train station in Istanbul one fine summer day. It is not every day that the Orient-Express comes into Istanbul (once a year) and it is not every day that I am there (I was on my honeymoon) but on September 3rd the stars aligned and, while innocently exploring the Sirkeci station, to my disbelief a handsome blue train with a gold crest came rolling down the tracks. It was really one of the magical moments in life and when you realize that timing everything!
What brought us to the station that day was my love of a good mystery (I devoured Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” during our trip) and my curiosity. This particular visit did not mean as much to my dear husband as it did to me but he was a good sport and he went along. Once I saw the train I knew that we had to get on- just seeing the exterior would not satisfy me and I would not be a good design journalist if I did not at least try to get inside. I made it my mission to locate the station manager who must have thought that I was some crazy American but I explained to him that I was a writer and it was my dream to see such an important interior, a real gesamtkunstwerk (I did not use that actual term with him but you get the idea). I am not ashamed to admit that I probably would have bribed the station manager if I needed to. But like everyone else that we met on our journey through Turkey, he was a very nice person and agreed to introduce me to the train’s manager. The only catch is that we would have to return in the afternoon after the train was cleaned and prepped for the paying passengers. At this point, my mind racing wildly, nothing would deter me from getting on the train. As for my husband, he now raves about the experience and promised me that for our tenth wedding anniversary, we too will be paying passengers.
Well, you already know how this story ends…
|The exterior of the terminal building of the Sirkeci Station in Istanbul, designed in the Ottoman style by August Jachmund and opened to the public on November 3, 1890.
|A detail of the stained glass on one of the doors and a glimpse of the stained glass rose window inside the waiting area.
|Is it a bird or a plane? NO, it is a train! The Orient-Express pulling in to the train station.
|The famous blue train of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits with its affronted lions brass crest. The small white plaque has the names of all the stops that the Orient-Express will be making on its journey. These include Venice, Paris, Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, and Sinaia.
|Finally on board the train. The beautiful hallway. Notice the lacquered doors with floral details.
|An interior of one of the cabin’s seating areas. The walls are lines with lacquered panels with an inlaid motif known as the “Sapelli Pearl.” The renowned French Art Deco designer Rene Prou was responsible for the design of all the cabins.
|A lavatory inside the cabin. Notice that the decorative motif is carried through-out the entire cabin.
|Bar Car and dining area.
|Piano Car, redesigned in the 1980’s by Gerard Gallet.
|Dining Car, notice the brass work above the tables and also the lacquered panels in between the windows. The lighting fixtures are called “Tulip” and were designed by Rene Lalique.
|Dining car, knows as the “Voiture Chinoise”, for the Asian inspired lacquer panels. These panels decorate the entire car.
|Magnificent glass panels grace dining car 4141 or the Lalique Pullman. The molded clear-glass panels depict “Bacchanalian maidens.”
|Back outside. The staff on the train all wore traditional costumes such as these.
|The departure of the Orient-Express was followed by fan-fare and a television crew. Since the train comes to Istanbul only once a year, it is considered to be a big event.