About the Art Deco Style
Did you know?
The Art Deco movement is a popular stylistic moniker often applied to the time period between the 1920s and the beginning of World War II — encompassing both Art Moderne and International Style architecture. The name Art Deco is derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs, a world fair and grand spectacle of the period’s new and fashionable design sense. Art Deco evolved from the simplicity of the Arts and Crafts movement to the more elaborate Art Nouveau period, adding integrated and decorative elements to all aspects of architectural design. There is no distinct guiding design principle of Art Deco; instead there are stylistic elements connected by common themes — the decorative, the commercial, the fashionable and the symbolic.
Art Deco style is diverse, inspired by modern thinkers from around the globe. Some architecture and interior designs feature exotic and organic motifs from Indonesia and Asia, while others draw upon more decorative conventions with stylized European and Slavic principles. Some Deco design elements are ornate while others remain sophisticated and subdued. These contrasting ideals are found at varying degrees in both Art Moderne and International Style architecture.
The American Art Moderne movement lasted only from the 1920s to the 40s, and combined the use of geometric surfaces with America’s affinity for modes of travel – the ocean liner, the airplane, the automobile and the train. Art Moderne architecture features streamlined design elements – smooth surfaces, flat roof lines and decorative, horizontal grooves. Other architectural features include round windows, glass block and curved corners.
The International Style pushed Art Moderne conventions to avant‑garde heights. A skeleton, or structural framework, gave way to an asymmetrical skin or façade. Steel, stucco and glass are hallmarks of International Style architecture. Functionality of space was considered more important than decorative design. As a result, technology replaced ornamentation. The French architect Le Corbusier is considered the father of International Style architecture, authoring the idea of the modern house as a “machine for living.”