Design Ahead of Time- Art Deco

Adele Shotton-Pugh | Posted

The art deco style of interior design was born out of a 1920’s that that not long seen the invention of the aeroplane, the skyscraper and the computer. Influenced by these glimpses of the future, this sleek style attempted to reflect speed, technology and the growing optimism and confidence felt by society at the time. Extremely lavish in its nature, Art deco featured in places of public entertainment such as cinemas, theatres, and ocean liners.

Such an immediate success was the art deco style that its influence was not confined to just architecture, furnishings, sculpture, fashion, jewellery, and visual arts all felt the seismic effects of this exciting new style. Even supposedly ineffectual items like pencil sharpeners could be found shaped to look like miniature Deco sky scrapers.

The term Art Deco is taken from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes which was a World's Fair held in Paris in 1925, though the name was not used until after the 1960’s. It is therefore also called Style Moderne or 1925 Style. Though it has roots in Europe, nowhere was Art Deco taken more to heart than in America. An instant hit in New York, Art Deco was also used to rebuild large areas of Miami after a hurricane in 1926, with the warm Miami weather helping to develop a new tropical version of the style.

With eclectic influences coming from the primal arts of Aztec Mexico, Africa, and Egypt, in addition to the powerful images of the hi-tech age like radios and skyscrapers, achieving an Art deco style interior is an exciting challenge. The style is a streamlined and geometric and should include furniture pieces with curved fronts, mirrors, clean lines, chrome hardware, and glass.

Art deco makes use of angular, balanced shapes- the most notable examples of this being New York’s famous Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. Taking the time to research the best architectural examples cities such as New York, Miami and Paris have to offer will really help to kick your creativity into touch

For further inspiration you can also look to the arts. Renowned artists that helped to define art deco style include Adolphe Mouron, Erte and Tamara de Lempicka. Or for furniture and product design check out the work of Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, Jean-Jacques Rateau, Eileen Gray, Edgar Brandt, Jean Dunand, René Lalique, Maurice Marinot, and Cartier.

Surfaces should be gleaming. Lacquered wooden surfaces or aluminium finishes should be used in abundance if your tastes lie more with the New York style of decorating. Add to these finishes richly coloured fabric, elaborate window dressings and large zebra skin rugs and you are more than halfway there.

For a tropical Miami version of the style, instead look to use pastel colours as much as possible. A perfect bedroom for example, would be finished in aqua with a contrasting pastel pink quilt cover covering a centrepiece bed.

In both variations, patterns should feature heavily. Stylized sunburst motifs a typical touch, as are zigzagged and stepped patterns or chevron designs- which could come in the form of anything from a beautiful parquet floor to the fabric of your curtains.

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