Art Deco design is a familiar trend to artists, actors and writers; but, not something we see very often up here in the great Rockies. We sure love our mountain and rustic inspired architecture of rich woods, log cabins and designs that are representative of our Montana lifestyle – hardworking, genuine and outdoor enthused. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know of and be appreciative of Art Deco design when we see it. It really is a beautiful and unique design style with a magnificent history. And just think, the artist in you may actually admire it more than you care for our traditional western roots.
As the first truly international design style, Art Deco appeared in France in the early 20th century and was broadcast as the hottest trend in architecture, art, fashion, glass, jewelry and home furnishings at the 1925 World Fair held in Paris. Deeply rooted by all things glamorous, Art Deco is based on lavish and opulent materials and draws from bold artistic styles from all over the world including Cubism and Fauvism. It also has influences from Egypt, India and Persia and is now known to be representative of what we call the Roaring Twenties. It is daring and suave – just what that time period was all about and still a trend designers are talking about nearly 100 years later. So what exactly does it look like?
Read on for the basic elements of what makes Art Deco design truly, Art Deco.
Geometric Patterns – The most distinguishing element of Art Deco design is the style’s repeated use of streamlined, geometric silhouettes – sunbursts, chevron, triangular and trapezoid shapes, zigzag pattern and sweeping curves As the design style made a splash in society, angular patterns were incorporated everywhere in home furnishings, fashion and even architecture. For instance, take a peek at the grand sweeping sunburst pattern in the spire of the Chrysler Building in New York or think about the entrance to your local movie theater – we bet it bears a resemblance to the old regal picture theaters of earlier 20th century. In addition to rhythmic patterns, another strong characteristic of art deco design is the inherent use of symmetry and unvaried use of elements in architecture and interior design. Repetitive patterns are a must in this design style.
Wealthy Accents – Lush textiles, mirrored and sleek surfaces, lacquered furniture, high gloss walls and expensive materials – all of these are the epitome of what a lavish lifestyle looked like during the onset of this design style. Room settings, theaters, architecture and the fashion world were set apart by the use of ivory, chrome and silver intertwined with the new manmade plastics and glass. Lush fabrics such as silks and satins conveyed this trend next to exotic woods and shiny black lacquered furniture with mirrored and reflective glass accents and surfaces.
Modern Influences – As the offspring of the Roaring Twenties, Art Deco’s design elements draw from the modern influences of the time – the rise of commerce, skyscraper architecture, mechanics and sciences (think of the invention of the TV), speed (cars) and new technologies. It makes use of the new materials available during that time frame (chrome and plastics) and was broadcast as a more futuristic or technologically hip design trend.
Signature Colors – While sometimes bearing bold contrasting reds and oranges, monochromatic black and white are at the heart and soul of Art Deco design. These colors offered a dramatic backdrop to the other bold elements in Art Deco and were broadcast throughout all aspects of an interior design project. Shiny black walls with bright white furniture or crisp white walls with chevron charcoal and white carpets underfoot. Another commonality of this trend is the consistent use of animal skins in a design – picture the stark contrasting colors in zebra print.
Photos courtesy of Beacon Hill, Osborne and Little, and Vanguard Furniture,