After the horrors of the First World War (1914 – 1918) came the Roaring Twenties. This is remembered as a decade of change, excitement and devil-may-care attitudes. If ever an era deserved LED technology – it was the 1920s!
In the twenties, the first ever radio broadcasts were made, the first passenger airships took to the skies and great ocean-going liners crossing the Atlantic vied for the Blue Riband award. For society’s elite – life was good.
Electric light was no longer a new-fangled invention – but it was expensive. With the development of the National Grid to satisfy demand, electricity became more affordable. Electric lighting was the priority, but demand quickly grew for other electrical appliances.
For the upper echelons of society, the Roaring Twenties was the golden age of nightclubs, where flappers and their escorts dined and danced the nights away. Could this have been the start of disco dancing? The clubs were sumptuously decorated and lit – although there were no sparkling LED glitter balls for our 1920s ravers!
LED lighting would have transformed these ritzy clubs, of course. Exorbitant prices ensured the clubs were frequented only by the rich and famous, so their interest no doubt would have been in the flexibility and ambiance of LED lighting, rather than the economy.
At London’s Café Royal, revellers were showered with favours – slender sticks topped with posies of flowers or black cats, which contained tiny light bulbs. At midnight, the lights were lowered and the favours used to illuminate the dance floor. Had the favours used LED bulbs, they would have survived for many years – perhaps some would even have been around to tempt the antiques collectors of today.
The 1920s also saw the start of the Art Deco design movement. With its symmetrical geometric shapes and penchant for vibrant colours, Art Deco lighting was crying out for LEDs. Imagine matching the rich ruby and purple shades with co-ordinating LED bulbs … the results would have been truly spectacular!
But while the Roaring Twenties is remember best for the high life, it was a different story altogether for the working classes. Very few working class families owned their own homes. The rented housing stock was in an appalling state of ill-repair. While a small percentage of the population partied the nights away, the majority were forced to live in slums infested with vermin. There was no electric lighting, let alone LEDs for them. Had there been, surely their motivation for purchase would have been economic rather than aesthetic.
In 1919, a new social housing policy was implemented. However, the high interest rates, shortages of manpower and materials meant the promises were never fulfilled and the policy was abandoned in 1921.
So when you switch on your low-energy LED lighting and turn up the heating and contemplate life in the ‘Roaring Twenties’, remember for most, the ‘Turbulent Twenties’ would have been a better description.