Art Deco Design


We all remember movies that depicted the Roaring Twenties when

Art Deco design was seen in the United States and Europe. The

origins of Art Deco began two decades earlier in Paris. “La Societe des artistes decorateurs”

or the Decorative Artists Society was founded following the Universal Exposition of 1900. It evolved further, and took its name from the Exposition International des Arts-Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.  The Decorative Artists Society inspired the name “Art Deco,” but the term did not become popular until the publication of “Art Deco of the 20’s and 30’s” by Bevis Hillier in 1968.

The style is often characterized by rich colors that were vivid & high-contrast,  
bold geometric shapes - spheres, polygons, rectangles, trapezoids, zigzags, chevrons, and sunburst motifs, 

a linear, hard edge or angular composition, often with a vertical emphasis

and highlighted with stylized and lavish ornamentation.  It was also common

to see stained glass, inlays, and lacquer.  Art Deco represented luxury, glamour,

elegance, functional, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress. 

Elements are often arranged in symmetrical patterns. The look is strong and bold with no fussiness or romance anywhere in sight.  Furniture of this time was large in scale.  It was characteristic to see a combination of smooth curves mixed with sharp angles.  Parquet flooring was a popular choice for flooring.

Colours used in Art Deco are striking and bold with a lot of contrasts. Bright and deep mustard yellows, reds, deep sea greens, navy blues, and pinks mix well with silver, black and chrome. Art deco colors can be described as being rich and cool. During the 1920's vivid colours were seen while in the 1930’s the colour palette became more subdued with white, black, and metallic surfaces combined with softer hues.  These cool, metallic colors worked well with chrome, glass and mirrors, which were popular art deco materials.

Today, we may associate art deco colors with the pink pastels of South Beach

in Miami. The bright pink, yellow, blue and green pastels of tropical art deco are

certainly among the colors of the Art Deco palette.  However, these colors only

represent a small portion of the range of colors used in Art Deco design.

Patterns were also very important. Zebra patterns were popular. Patterns that included chevrons,

or V shapes, were also common. You will also see checkerboard patterns in contrasting colors,

including black and white, in art deco designs.  Think about the popular black and white square

tile flooring that we still see.

With the upcoming rebirth of the movie ‘The Great Gatsby’ we will be seeing Art Deco in all its glory, the twenties, an era of glittering jazz.  We have already seen some nods to this style with the popularity of Chevron appearing everywhere, as well as this year’s Pantone Colour of the Year being magnificent Emerald Green definitely found in the Art Deco era.  At the Highpoint Furniture Market last fall, many of the elements that define Art Deco were in abundance

Many more photos can be found on my blog

© 2013 by DESIGN SAVVY 

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