When a group of leading Parisian artists organized an exhibition dedicated to modern industrial and decorative arts in 1925, they ignited the birth of a short-lived but highly influential design movement later known as Art Deco. In the 1920s and 1930s, he dominated a whole range of decorative arts, in fields as diverse as architecture, industrial design, and of course interior design. We can still see Art Deco buildings in many cities, and thanks to the revival of the 1980s, in hotels and other commercial places. To get the full picture, all you have to do today is take a look at any Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical in the 1930s, and you'll immediately be dumped into the entire Art Deco experience. I love Art Deco's pivotal future faith, a faith that now seems eccentric and naive, but has created a completely unique design language that can add a sad element of nostalgia to fun and contemporary interior design.
Art Deco was, first of all, modern with capital M. Geometric shapes, sharp angles, gradient patterns and sweeping curves were designed to capture the rapid developments in industry and technology that characterized the early 20th century. That is why some of the most famous examples of Art Deco style are the high-tech symbols of the time: skyscrapers, ocean liners, radios and even phonographs. For this reason the preferred materials were aluminum, glass and stainless steel. The wood was even glossy, either painted or inlaid. The floors were also glossy, marble or tile, and often had chessboard patterns. The carpets feature geometric patterns, while the Zebra leather and shagreen (python leather) cover decorative surfaces. Mirrors were usually abundant round. Images of Sunburst and Chevron can be seen on everything from furniture to women's shoes to radiator grids on cars. Ironically, while Art Deco was an example of modernity, influences included patterns and symbols from the Aztecs of Mexico, Egypt and Africa.
Poster art was at its peak, with some of the finest painters capturing Deco style in advertising consumer products, performing arts and sporting events. Ivory, jade and stained glass were common materials for accessories, which are usually long, thin and graceful, with gentle curves. The patterns on the wall coverings are often characterized by leaves, flowery animals and nudists.
The Second World War catastrophe closed the Art Deco book, where modern technology became more related to death and destruction than advanced design. While there was some isolated reflection, Art Deco today is often seen as a look at the past long gone. Being in architecture and public spaces, you can still see great examples of Art Deco in cities around the world: the Chrysler Building and Radio City Music Hall in New York are examples.
A few years ago I worked in my sister's Art Deco apartment in Paris. The living room features gray leather sofas with glossy knot wood, custom cabinets that concealed the TV in a cream lacquer, the walls were finished in a very fine Venetian plaster in a yellow painting, and the heavy mirrors are framed in an ebony forest zebra. Window treatments use a simple sheer to cover large windows and floors are squares of limestone. If you are going to make a Deco, you need to proceed through at least an entire room, where the pattern requires continuity in all elements of the space. The resulting effect takes you to a different, more glamorous, high society, where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced all night and drank champagne unattended in the world.