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Art Deco Characteristics : How to decorate your home in Art Deco style.

Updated on October 27, 2016
TessSchlesinger profile image

Tessa has worked as an interior designer, designed clothing, make up artist,and decorator. She has various qualifications in the field.

Architecture, furniture, jewelry - all were influenced by the flamboyance of the 20s and 30s. It was the time between two world wars, a time when morals were more relaxed, art more experimental, and female emancipation broke barriers in many aspects of life. Art Deco used lines, angles, and other geometric shapes to make statements. It used strong color, added opulence in refined and detailed ways, and it's probably the most elegant style ever invented.

Examples of Art Deco Buildings.

You can recognize the architectural style if you look for flat roofs, rectangular lines and squares on the walls and roofs, black and white colouring, and detailed, geometric patterning involving gold, silver, and mirrors, on doors.

Probably one of the most famous art deco buildings is the Chrysler building in New York. The building was designed by architect William van Alen and paid for by Walter Chrysler. For a while, it was the tallest building in New York but was then overtaken by the Empire State Building. Today, it is the third tallest building in New York.

Despite the passing of more than eighty years, it is still thought by builders, architects and the general public to be one of the grandest buildings in New York City. Such is the effect of the Art Deco Style.

The Art Deco style of building spread throughout the world, but the following buildings are all world famous and most people would recognize a photo of them...

1. Empire State Building
2. Chrysler Building
3. Miami Beach Resort - South Beach
4. Mexico City Area
5.Rockefeller Centre
6.Chicago Board of Trade Building
7. Fisher and Guardian Buildings in Detroit, USA.
8. Los Angeles City Hall.
9. Hoover Dam
10. Hoover Building, London.
11. Broadcasting House, London.
12. Victoria Coach Station, London.
13. Mossehaus, Berlin, Germany.
14. Rex Theatre, Ahens, Greece,
15. Hotel Astoria, Petersburg.
16. Cococabana Palace hotel, Rio de Janeiro
17. Eltham Palace, London.
18. Colony Hotel, Miami, Florida, USA
19. American Radiator Building, New York.
20. Folies Bergère, Paris.

Most people glory in the sight of this architectural style. It's surprising that most people don't emulate it, for it surely it is elegant.


Examples of Art Deco Furniture

Art Deco furniture had strongly angled geometric shapes with richly opulent fabric. Patterns on fabric included chevrons, rectangles, squares, and stripes on fabrics that included brocades and silks. Fabrics also often had a gold or silver thread running through them.

Famous art deco furniture designers included Louis Comfort Tiffany - him of the Tiffany lamp fame - Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Scottish guy famous for his ladder back chair, Andre Leon Arbus, Michel de Klerk from Amsterdam, and the most famous of them all (almost) Le Corbusier. Le Corbusier changed the face of office furniture, and although it isn't my favorite, there is a definite finesse about his designs.

Examples of Art Deco furniture
Examples of Art Deco furniture | Source
Examples of Art Deco Jewelry
Examples of Art Deco Jewelry | Source

Fashion and Jewelry

Have you heard off Rene Lalique? He was a glass maker who made the most beautiful perfume bottles, vases, chandeliers, and even clocks and ornaments for cars. Then there is a famous lady whose name I have forgotten, but she designed the most beautiful screens or room dividers. I think she was French. One day her name is going to come and bite me! Paul Poiret was the first designer who took this style to jewellery. He was French - naturally.

Art Deco Jewellery sometimes had touches of Egyptian art, sometimes was strongly geometrical and precise, and other times were animals and flowers of every type. It glittered and glowed, was colourful, and dominated both the precious gems and metal market and the paste market.

Clothes were androgynous with women's breasts being suppressed. There were no more petticoats restricting movement, but rather items which allowed women to move easily and to work in them. They were also easy for the fabulous Charleston dance! Coco Chanel first started designing in the Art Deco style.


Examples of 20s style clothing
Examples of 20s style clothing
Paul Poiret sultana skirts and harem pants fashions,
Paul Poiret sultana skirts and harem pants fashions, | Source
Paul Poiret Fashion illustrations.
Paul Poiret Fashion illustrations. | Source
Palette of patterns for Art Video fabric
Palette of patterns for Art Video fabric

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How to decorate in Art Deco Style

Firstly paint the walls of your home in the colors of the art deco period. Generally, the most elegant were white walls with white and black checkered floors. However, when floors were wood rather than checkered black and white tiles, walls could go any color, so long as they were on the cool side of the palette. An Art Deco Art Palette is attached so that you can have a look at the colors.

There was a rich colour palette for furniture, curtains (drapery), and decorative items. Canary yellow, emerald green, peacock blue, royal purple and brilliant red were the fashion. Golds and silvers reflected the prosperity of the time. Bright colors were joyful, alive, vital. Colors were interwoven with each other, with a gold, silver, or metallic thread running through. They were on the cool side of the palette - no warmth. So purchase items in these colours.

Art Deco furniture had strongly angled geometric shapes with richly opulent fabric. Patterns on fabric included chevrons, rectangles, squares, and stripes on fabrics that included brocades and silks. Fabrics also often had a gold or silver thread running through them. See the image of the examples of fabrics below.

If you have already purchased furniture and you want to convert your current look, invest in recovering your sofa and chairs in art deco fabrics. Also, purchase a room divider with a 20s look to add a finishing touch. If nothing else, the art deco room divider was the ultimate 20s flapper girl ‘must have.’

If you are purchasing new furniture, look for anything that is more square than round. Go for tables and chairs that have silver or gold legs. Study the style in magazines so that you know which shapes to go for. Because original art deco pieces are rare these days, buying them at vintage stores can be very expensive. However, you can pick up really good prices at ebay.

Posters were very fashionable in the 20s and 30s. They also had quite a distinctive style. Depending how large your room is, have one or two posters in your room. You can either frame these with a look-alike art deco frame or you can have the poster boxed. The colors in the poster should be complimentary to the furniture in your room.

Tiffany lamps with their colorful class coverings and mirrors, richly ornate with a gold or silver frame will finish up the look. Carpets with geometric patterns, and rich in color, will add another finishing touch. Intense color in empty space is very much the art deco style. There is no clutter - only one or two rich, eyecatching ornaments in intense color is a better choice, than the multitude of complimentary ornaments so often found in a modern cottage look.


Basics of Art Deco

The Art Deco look is easily put together. The most difficult part is a checkered black and white floor. Other than that, you need to get a decorative room divider, some posters, and use geometric fabric with a gold or silver thread running through it. Make it spacious so that there is lots of 'emptiness' in the room. Watch the video in this article and see how space is arranged. When you've completed your Art Deco look, wait for the compliments to roll in. They will!

If you are looking for more ideas, here is a list of art deco designers. If you google their work, you can get further ideas.


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