Art Deco began in Europe, particularly Paris, in the early years of the 20th century, but didn’t really take hold until after World War I. As the world let its hair down after the hell of WWI, Deco truly reigned until the outbreak of World War II. This particular era of decorative arts seems more nostalgic than most. Perhaps because it yielded such creativity, or maybe because it is reflective of a time where so many things happened on the historical time line.
A sampling of this active time in history: the Empire State Building “scraped the sky”, assembly lines were created, Edison invented the first talking films, Lindbergh forever changed aviation with the first solo flight across the Atlantic, Penicillin was discovered, Pluto was discovered, Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, the “unsinkable” Titanic fatefully set sail, jazz was born, the Charleston and the Tango were the rage, Cubism was the hip art style and Picasso was leading the way.
It was the era of Prohibition, Fascism, Darwinism, Surrealism, the Great Depression and gangsters. Certainly not dull. How did all of this translate into the decorative arts of the time?
The early days of Hollywood were in the Deco Era–the glamorous world of the silver screen filtered through to design using shiny fabrics, subdued lighting, and mirrors. Cocktail cabinets and smoking paraphernalia became highly fashionable–as did stylized images of airplanes, cars, cruise liners, skyscrapers.
Egyptian accents (sphinxes, pyramids) became popular after Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered. Lalique was popular. Art Deco reacted against the fussiness of the previous Art Nouveau style, going for a more streamlined, bold, geometrical approach–chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, mirrors and mirror tiles.theatrical contrasts–highly polished wood and glossy black lacquer mixed with satin and furs. Mass production made this style more accessible.
One of the things I love about the Deco style is that it mixes beautifully with many other styles. Personally, I am a sucker for Deco tables. One stunning Deco table can transform a room, and if you can find more, all the better. The woods and veneers of this era are magnificent, and the lines handsome, architectural and unfussy. As we all know, originals always hold more value than reproductions, so if you are going to spend the money, spend it wisely and invest in quality. Deco antiques are not easy to find, but if you know where to look, glamorous treasures can be yours.
The pieces of this era are so sleek, so chic, and they radiate the energy of their era. Getting a taste of the historical context only heightens the glamour of owning the originals–oh, the stories they could tell.
The above was an excerpt from a post published on February 2, 2015 by Courtney Price.