Art Deco was one of the most popular design styles of the early 20th century. Although its dominance was short-lived, it has gone on to enjoy enduring appeal over the decades.
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The Art Deco style is said to have originated in Paris, where it took its name from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Quickly spreading across Europe, the style soon found its way across the pond to America. Art Deco gained the world’s attention up until the start of World War II, where functional styles then took over.
Despite only having a brief period in the spotlight, Art Deco has been one of the most important design styles of the last century, although it wasn’t recognised as a movement as such until the 1960s.
Defining the Art Deco style isn’t always easy, as it overlaps with other styles such as Art Nouveau, Art Moderne and Bauhaus. However, most people intuitively recognise architecture or fashion pieces that fall under the Art Deco umbrella.
Essentially, Art Deco epitomised luxury, opulence, optimism and glamour. Although it took influences from past movements such as Cubism, it was also very much based on contemporary and future ideas.
Art Deco was most commonly showcased in architecture, especially buildings that represented the modern world such as airports, department stores and offices, but this style was also popular in hotel and cinema architecture. Art Deco influences also found their way into product design, fashion, textiles, jewellery, pottery, visual arts, sculpture and filmography.
The style, based on arts and craftsmanship, notably involved collaboration between various artists, often working in different mediums to create bespoke designs.
Renowned examples of the Art Deco movement include America’s famous skyscrapers, such as the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, as well as Miami Beach in Florida. In the UK, The Savoy Hotel in London boasts Art Deco influences, as does the Hoover Factory in Middlesex and Burgh Island Hotel in Bigbury-on-Sea, in Devon.
Despite Art Deco sharing features with other styles, it boasts its own unique characteristics.
Strong geometric and angular shapes, typical of the Cubist movement, are part and parcel of Art Deco style, with particular focus given to symmetrical arrangement. Striking colours feature too, especially high-contrast colour combinations.
The Art Deco movement also embraces the use of modern materials, including shiny metallic, mirrors, brass, chrome, steel and aluminium. To emphasise the use of clean lines and streamlined designs in this style, neon strip lighting is often used.
Exotic cultural elements also make up Art Deco styles, including motifs influenced by Ancient Egypt, Africa, the Middle East and Central American art. As a fairly eclectic style, inspiration also takes the design of modern vehicles into account.
Art Deco differs from Art Nouveau in that the latter makes use of more natural forms, especially the use of wood and motifs from nature, as well as more curved designs. The influence of Cubism in Art Deco, with its use of fragmented, geometric designs, also separates this style from Art Nouveau.
Art Deco enjoyed a revival during the 1960s, but it still holds massive appeal to this day. Its highly visual and decorative nature makes it versatile for use inside and outside the home, and its suitability for mass production also means it’s an accessible style for everyone. For art enthusiasts, in particular, this style is highly collectable.
If you’d like to embrace the Art Deco style with the use of metal, Pipecraft offers a wide range of exceptional tube bending services that can form contemporary and functional designs, such as stylish furniture.