“We will give splendid reproductions of the monuments, objects of art and of luxury which give evidence of an advanced civilization, the influence of which has been felt even in Europe.” (Émile Prisse d’Avennes)
The nineteenth century witnessed great interest in design. With the development of Orientalism, designers found inspiration through contact with Islamic art. A key work of the period was an encyclopaedic book on design, entitled The Grammar of Ornament
, by theorist Owen Jones in 1856. This and other works displayed the richness and colour of Islamic art, especially the arabesque and geometrical ornament. A key monument and source of design was the Alhambra Palace whose decorations inspired architects and designers in Europe such as William Morris, Plácido Zuloaga, Jules Bourgoin, and Mariano Fortuny. Researching both the motifs and the fabrication techniques of decorative designs in an attempt to evoke the luxury of Islamic art, designers worked with both ancient techniques as well as modern ones: Zuloaga, for example, developed a new technique based on a medieval one of damascening; Théodore Deck, similarly, with the blue he used on ceramics.