The decorative arts lived through a big moment in the early twentieth century. Furniture, mirrors, lamps and prints left their secondary position and rose to the level of art.
Born in France during the Roaring Twenties, Art Deco is glamour, elegance and beauty in the most absolute sense of the word. A reflection on society itself at the time; glorifying snobbery, elitism and a love of excess. However, the Art Deco movement survived the crash of 1929 and remained in effect until the late fifties. Almost a hundred years after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris who baptised movement, Art Deco has not gone out of fashion and its influence is still visible in many designs today. Today, we are looking at six very special designs which have clearly paid homage to the Art Deco style.
Art Deco put an eye on the exotic and ancient cultures beyond Europe. Hence, many designs take elements borrowed from Ancient Egypt, or of pre-Colombian civilizations and African tribes. This anthropological interest led them to experiment with other materials, such as ebony. The black wood was perfect to combine with ivory or gold plates, two other resources which were heavily exploited.
Modernists turned to nature as their true muse, and had weakness for naturally occurring elements, especially vegetation and rounded shapes. While it is true that Art Deco gave more power to curves and bends over straight lines and geometric shapes, the style continued to use cues from nature to highlight its volatility. The natural motifs, such as this wallpaper are one of the great legacies that have been left behind as legacy from this era.
From buildings to car designs, Art Deco played every card in pursuit of beauty, at a time when aesthetics were everything. Soap, perfume bottles, combs and especially mirrors, even in the most intimate spaces became art. If we have learnt anything from this movement, it is that functionality is not incompatible with beauty.
The euphoria and blind faith from the power of machines staggered after the Great War. But twenty years after it recovered, it continued to fuel Art Deco industrial materials such as metal, bronze or glass. The timber was filled with highlights and glazes that gave an almost unrealistic effect.
This combination of wood and metal continued for many years. No other movement triumphed as much as Art Deco in the Roaring Twenties.
Art Deco, heir to the avant-garde styles such as Futurism, favoured rounded corners and sought aerodynamic designs, to give sense of speed and risk. Avant-garde artists of the Art Deco period, thoroughly enjoyed the game and risk of experimenting with forms.
This same pleasure in design is still in force today, designers love the game and risk of playing with unknown forms. As we see in these chairs, whilst working independently, form a whole unit that looks as though they are being pulled apart. Clever.
There is much more Art Deco around us than we imagine. Some are obvious because they are important buildings in our cities, but others are in hidden places that you least expect. Art Deco was not just art for museums, but can be seen in day to day accessories. Wherever we may go, maybe the railing of the stairs, the door frame or door knob hide this little jewel of design that is Art Deco.