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Bringing Back Art Deco

Posted on June 26, 2011 at 7:40 AM

The most glamorous artistic and design movement of the twentieth century, Art Deco flourished in the 1920s and1930s, declined in the 1940s, but experienced a resurgence of interest in the1960s with a revival of the style. In the 1980s there was another phase ofinterest with the growth of graphic design and typefaces as an art form, andsince then it has never really gone away.

Nowadays, it works equally well with any modern furnishing such as a leather recliner sofa or DVD cabinet, and many people are embracing the art form. So, what’s it all about?

Art Deco introduced elegant, linear symmetry with rich colors and much gold high lighting, drawing inspiration from several sources including futurism, cubism, ethnic arts such as ancient Egyptian and Aztec Mexican, as well as the clean lines of technology. Curves were huge, bold, and sweeping. It was a sharp contrast to the flowing pastels of Art Nouveau.

Unlike many artistic movements that have political or philosophical elements, Art Deco was purely decorative. But artists and designers working within this style turned their talents to a wider ange of areas: architecture, industrial items, household goods, paintings and,of course, interior design. The Chrysler Building in New York, built between1928 and 1930 is an iconic Art Deco structure, as is the Empire State Building.

Art Deco successfully married functionality and glamorous style. Many of its motifs, such as huge, symmetrical sunbursts and other geometric shapes such as chevrons and ziggurats, could be seen acrossthe whole spectrum of design, from clothes and shoes to skyscrapers and cars. Despite the glorious ornamentation, the style was practical and, in some ways,simple to achieve.

 Typical materials used in art decointerior design are hard and metallic: aluminum, stainless steel, chrome, Bakelite, and lacquer. It might be difficult to reproduce this at home, but brushed steel and glass can help with the look. One of the easiest ways to achieve an Art Deco design is to use one of the many available wallpapers with original patterns. Team it with a gleaming hardwood floor, colorful rugs, mirrors and stained glass, futuristic furniture, lacquered cabinets, lamps, and a print of one of the Deco skyscrapers. Being careful not to clash with wallpaper, if patterns are used they should reflect the geometric motifs orhave huge curves.

 Genuine Art Deco items from the 1920s and ’30s are now hugely desirable and expensive. But items fromthe 1960s and ’70s are still cheap enough to collect (though prices are rising), and while they don’t have the cachet of the original, they are still Art Deco pieces (just Revival).

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