The turn of the millennium has coincided with an intensification of public interest in design, and the stories and people behind the objects we use in the home. The coffee tables of the middle classes are laden with publications on the design ‘classics’ of the twentieth century, and museums are busy building collections of what they see as the icons of the modern movement. Through this process the status of the individual designer has risen, and today more people are familiar with names like Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles Rennie Mackintosh or René Lalique than they ever were when the designers were alive. The popular consumption of terminologies once restricted to the world of design history has led to a diversification of their meaning. Terms such as ‘Art Deco’ or ‘Art Nouveau’ which once determined specific characteristics are now used as catch-all phrases to encompass what is envisioned as the spirit of an era.