During the Roaring Twenties, the United States was heavily influenced by Europe. It was a time of great innovation, new technologies and an awakening of new ideas and expression. Everything from music, dancing, fashion and design were all changed and altered. Visual arts were particularly affected; film, traditional and commercial art, to name a few. However, it was in 1929 when Wall Street crashed, followed by the Great Depression, that ended the era of Modernism. In the 1980s, it seemed to be resurrected for a time and seems to be making yet another come back in the Twenty-First Century.
What made this time period stand out was its use of industrial materials and geometric patterns in design. Metallics, stainless steel, inlaid wood and lacquer were all integrated in the design of Art Deco. Patterns that seem to make the era stand out were sunburst motifs, chevron patterns and the use of aerodynamic designs of planes, automobiles and ballistics.
Architecture – Examples of Art Deco are still visible today. The Chrysler building, which was built in the 1920s, was heavily influenced. Walking through Radio City Music Hall is like walking into the Jazz Era itself, preserved and sealed to the exact condition of that particular time. The Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles still reflects the sunburst motif of the age.
Color and Pattern – Colors of this era include grays, black, silvery blues, and sea foam greens. Pastels were popular as well. Materials in the home were gleaming chrome, etched glass, silk fabrics, mirrors and mirrored tiles. Geometric shapes and repeating patterns were always a dead giveaway to Art Deco styling.
Fabrics– Integrating these colors and patterns into your decor is simple if you stick to what makes Art Deco design unique. Silk fabric throw pillows and drapes, graphic patterns and animal prints on rugs and upholstery will help to achieve the look you are going for.
Art Work – Graphic design or commercial artwork became extremely popular in the 1920s. It was a unique style using geometric shapes and typography to sell a product and way of life. Ukraine born, A.M. Cassandre was probably the most influential artist of his generation. He combined silhouettes, typography and images in a way that influenced the introduction of Art Deco graphic design in the U.S. His most important works include the cover designs for the fashion magazines “Harper’s Bazaar” and “Vanity Fair.”
Furniture – Furniture during this period was quite extraordinary. These were like pieces of art that you sat on. Chair backs were linear and geometric in shape with a combination of tapered chair legs and rounded sculptural armrests. Most upholstery fabric was classic Art Deco with metallics and sunburst motif patterns, embossed velvet and gazelle textiles.
By integrating all these textures, textiles, shapes and colors, you will be able to accomplish a great Art Deco design you will love.