Art Deco Style Guide

Art Deco is a fashionable style of decorative art, design, and architecture, which actually began as a Modernist response to Art Nouveau. Exemplified by the geometric designs of famous New York structures such as the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center and characterized by even lines, geometric shapes, streamlined forms, and sometimes bright hues, Art Deco is a perfect reflection of modern technology. While it started off as a more high-end design style during World War I (using materials like silver, crystal, ivory, jade, and lacquer), it eventually moved to less pricey materials (think chrome and plastics) to cater to the growing middle class at the time.

The word “Art Deco” is derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes held in Paris. The show was organized by an association of French artists known as La Societe des Artistes Decorateurs (a society of decorator artists). With that being said, the term Art Deco was not widely used until it was popularized by art historian and critic Bevis Hiller in her book, Art Deco of the 20s and 30s in 1968 (visual-arts-cork.com).

Art Deco Apartment Facade
Exterior Features

Art Deco is modern and luxurious, perfectly suited for locations like movie theatres, cruises, and train stations. Characterized by smooth walls, (sometimes) curved windows, flat roofs, and “bold exterior decorations,” Art Deco is anything but timid or mild. Particularly prevalent in early American skyscraper design, such as the famously Art Deco-styled Chrysler Building, this style is generally less prevalent in home design, save Miami Beach, Tulsa, Okla., and outside of Philadelphia or Cincinnati, according to HGTV.

Interior Art Deco Features
Interior Features

Art Deco is characterized by geometric design, bold decoration, angular form, modern metallics, and linear decoration. Throwing subtlety to the wind, geometric wallpaper allows for an exorbitant exploration of shape and form. To capture the grand shapes reminiscent of early skyscraper facades, a carefully selected Art Deco lighting fixture can also leave no doubt in the mind of visitors about the aesthetic you are hoping to capture with your design.

Art Deco Furniture & Accessories

Art Deco Furniture
Whether it’s a coffee table or vanity, mirrored furniture is the epitome of Art Deco. Many other Art Deco pieces are made of rich, exotic woods. The most coveted of all? Materials like Violetwood, Ambonia, ebony, and mahogany. To give styles a sleek look, pieces are often treated with a high-shine lacquer. When it comes to sofas, armchairs, and lounge chairs, wood inlays and metal accents and finishes are very popular.
Cooper Classics Silver Nelson Mirror
Arteriors Home Cooper Silver Leaf Iron and Mirror Accent Table
Dessau Home Antique Silver Square Fireplace Screen
Flambeau Lighting Armory Glazed Gold Leaf 29-Inch Table

Art Deco Lighting

Art deco styled room

In the world of Art Deco, glass is predominately etched, sandblasted, or enameled rather than colored. A perfect example of this style is this metropolitan lighting fixture. It features macassar ebony, crystal accents and an etched white shade, all while exemplifying the glamorous Art Deco mood.

Uttermost Tuxedo Six-Light Single-Shade Chandelier
Metropolitan Lighting Metropolitan French Gold Wall Sconce
Metropolitan Lighting Walt Disney Signature Chrome with Macassar Ebony and Crystal Accents One-Light Bath Fixture with Etched White Shade
Corbett Spinnaker Gold Leaf with Polished Stainless Accents 9-Inch LED Wall Sconce

Art Deco Colors, Shapes & Patterns

Example of Art Deco Colors
Colors

Colors are more often bold and driven by contrast in schemes of silver, black, chrome, yellow, red, cream, green, and beige. When it comes to solids, typical colors are black, brown, and tan. But, it’s also common to come across brights like reds, pinks and oranges (not pictured here) to reflect the happy, joyful times of the buzzing Roaring 20s.

Art Deco Patterns and Shapes
Shapes & Patterns

To give Art Deco objects a futuristic look, artists frequently opt for vertical lines and geometric shapes like arcs, circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles in repetitive patterns. According to Gia.edu, a perfect example of this style is the beautifully modern Chrysler Building in Manhattan – it features a number of these unique design elements.

Art Deco Materials & Fabrics

Art Deco Materials

Art Nouveau materials like molded glass, horn, and ivory have been used to build Art Deco designs, but fresh supplies like aluminum, stainless steel, inlaid wood, lacquer, stucco, concrete, smooth-faced stone, and plastics play a major role in making up Art Deco objects. Additionally, exotic materials like shark-skin and zebra-skin regularly work their way into the Art Deco world. Fabrics often feature plain or geometric prints and highlights with solid blocks of color.

To keep up with the luxurious and trendy Art Deco vibe, only the most buttery-soft, rich leathers and soft, shiny upholstered fabrics are used. Another common theme is texture – many pieces boast fabrics that feature more than what meets the eye.

Uttermost Brunner Storage Ottoman
Dale Tiffany Bridport Antique Brass and Crystal Accent Lamp
Corbett Theory Gold Leaf with Polished Stainless Accents 7-Inch LED Wall Sconce
Access Lighting Magari Mirrored Stainless Steel 15-Inch LED Flush Mount

How to Make Art Deco Work in Your Space

Art Deco inspired wallpaper
Geometric Design

Incorporating Art Deco style into your space is easier than it looks. To bring a little retro flair into a room, opt for bold, geometric wallpaper. Rectangles and curvy forms are instantly eye-catching and make any stylish space come alive. Another exceptional option is a curvy, multicolored rug. This rug is a subtle and stylish option that’ll bring any room to life.

Art Deco Wall Art
Alluring Art

Bold oil paintings, sculptural lamps and pendants, ornate décor, and intricately detailed furniture add instant appeal to an Art Deco-inspired space. This breathtaking piece by Corbett Lighting, for instance, is multifunctional, providing light and an unsurpassed element of design.

Beacon Lighting Lucci Air Airfusion Climate Brushed Chrome 52-Inch DC Ceiling Fan
Modern Metallics

Silver and gold shades give a space that ultra-coveted lavish look. Achieve this look with the help of a sleek, industrial-looking ceiling fan. This brushed chrome fan boasts metal blades and a high-shine, polished finish (if you can imagine it surrounded by Art Deco decor). It’s a statement piece that’s both timeless and fashion-forward.

Monochrome Art Deco
Monochrome Colors

Art Deco style is minimal, streamlined, and futuristic. To stick with this theme, keep things simple with a subtle color scheme. Think cool fabrics, natural tones, shimmery champagnes, and slight touches of cobalt and gun-metal.

Art Deco Style Influences

Influenced by the geometric forms of Cubism, the machine-style forms of Constructivism and Futurism, and the unifying approach of Art Nouveau, Art Deco is derived from Aztec and Egyptian art as well as Classical Antiquity. Although unlike the ever-so-popular Art Nouveau, Art Deco is completely decorative with no philosophical basis.

Art Deco’s widely recognized style, used frequently by architects and designers around the world, was popular during the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression of the early 1930s, and the often-difficult years leading up to World War II. It suffered a major decline in popularity in the late 30s and 40s, as many believed it was too glamorous for the war times. It was not until the 1960s that it reappeared again, around the time that Pop Art and graphic design was growing in popularity.

Cubism Art Deco Influence
Cubism

Famously the style of Picasso, cubism is an early 20th-century style characterized by abandoning single viewpoint perspective for interlocking plains and geometric shapes.

Constructivism Art Deco Influence
Constructivism

Characterized by producing abstract structures from assorted objects, constructivism originated in Russia in the 1920s.

Futurism Art Deco Influence
Futurism

Hailing from Italy in 1909, as it sounds, futurism is concerned with trends and events of the future by embracing technology, dynamism and change.

Art Nouveau Art Deco Influence
Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is characterized by intricate linear design and flowing curves, both staples in Art Deco design. Found in art, design and architecture, it originated in western Europe and the U.S. around 1890.

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