Art Deco was an international design and art movement in the 1920s and ’30s. Influenced by sources as varied as the Bauhaus School in Germany, the Cubist paintings of Georges Braques and Pablo Picasso, Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, and the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, the style was a rejection of the organic, naturalistic sensibility of Art Nouveau.
Art Deco was a machine-made aesthetic for a fast-paced industrial age, using symmetry and line to bring order to the natural world and suggest movement in objects as inert as chairs and bookends. Even the cinema echoed and inspired the trend, most famously in Fritz Lang’s 1927 vision of dystopia, Metropolis.
For a time, no object escaped the streamline touch of Art Deco. Frank Lloyd Wright filled his geometric buildings with equally angular lamps, tables, and stained-glass windows. Indeed, Art Deco architecture is perhaps the most enduring legacy of the style.
The 1930 Chrysler Building, an Art Deco masterpiece, is one of the most famous landmarks in Manhattan; the 1937 Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is another Art Deco triumph, in this case of both design and engineering. Then there’s Ocean Drive in the South Beach section of Miami, home to some 800 preserved Art Deco structures. Inside all those Art Deco buildings was furniture by the likes of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, who equipped his armchairs with assertive, mesa-flat armrests. Elsewhere in the house, a host of decorative and functional objects set an elegant tone.
Because most Art Deco objects were mass-produced, a great many survive today, making them terrific and often surprisingly affordable collectibles. Industrial designers Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfus created many functional objects (such as clocks, radios, and telephones) with the classic Art Deco angular, streamlined look. Statuettes and figurines, frequently of female nudes, were produced in plastic, bronze, and ceramic. Glass objects — from vases to perfume bottles — were also popular, with René Lalique, Antonin Daum, Henri Navarre, and Maurice Marinot among the most prized practitioners.
Porcelain figurines created for Robj, Rosenthal, and Lenci often depicted characters and caricatures dressed in the fabrics of the day, with Art Deco costume jewelry on their necks and Art Deco watches on their wrists. By the bed would be a bronze and mahogany clock, in the dining room a china service emblazoned with geometric patterns, and in the living room silver and enamel cigarette cases leaning against ashtrays made of Bakelite.
Art Deco had a great ride, but by 1939 the movement had run its course, giving way to World War II and what we now know as the Mid-Century Modern style (which made even the simple flourishes of Art Deco look baroque). A 1966 exhibition in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs reminded the world why Art Deco, previously called modernism, had been so popular in its day. Today, it may be even more so.
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The Hotel Report: A New Spa in Bath, An Art Deco Gem in South BeachCondé Nast Traveler, July 27th
Your weekly roundup of the best of what's new, what's coming up, and what we can't wait for in the world of hotels. Now open. The Westin San Jose is now open in California. The 171-room property is in the building once occupied by the Sainte Claire...Read more
Million-dollar State Theatre renovations look to restore art deco feelMLive.com, July 27th
The Michigan Theater's Russ Collins, Lee Berry, and the rest of MT Foundation team – which purchased the nearby State Theatre in October 2014 – are aiming for the State to have a splashy, art deco-glamorous 75th anniversary to remember on March 17, ...Read more
For sale: Art Deco Highgate flat by Arsenal stadium architectHam&High, July 23rd
In 1927 he set up a practice in London with fellow Scot Claude Ferrier, which is when he embraced the Art Deco style seen at West Hill Court as well as in his later work on the East Stand of Highbury Stadium from 1936. Tucked away on the site of the...Read more
Reno Art Deco post office brought back in timeLas Vegas Review-Journal, July 15th
RENO —€” The past is returning to life at the former main U.S. Post Office building here as private investors restore the original splendor of the historic Art Deco structure and turn it into mixed retail and office use. The building, designed by...Read more
Red brick apartments, anything Art Deco and weatherboards close to town and ...Daily Mail, July 12th
He said they, along with those from the Art Deco period (1925-40), are the perfect combination for buyers of guaranteed rent return or comfortable family living. On the other side of the coin, those shiny new high-rise properties which might look like...Read more
San Pedro department store turned unique Art Deco showcase joins Third ThursdaysThe Daily Breeze, July 12th
George Woytovich and Patti Kraakevik live in a former Montgomery Ward department store on Pacific Avenue in San Pedro, which they transformed into an eccentric multi-level art gallery and performance venue filled with art deco collectibles. George is...Read more
House Envy: Designer mansion, vaulted ceilings, Art Deco lightsDetroit Free Press, July 11th
House Envy: Designer mansion, vaulted ceilings, Art Deco lights. Real estate sale ads sometimes brag that the house was the “designer's own home,” and the words seem to add cachet. The designer was present for the whole shebang, when a large 1971 ...Read more
Bialik furniture collection references Art Deco floor tilesDezeen, July 4th
The Bialik Collection was originally designed for the owners of a refurbished house in the White City district – a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with Art Deco, Bauhaus and International Style buildings constructed when Tel Aviv was...Read more