This well-known style officially arose in France shortly before the Great War. In its early days, Deco was embraced in fashion as much as any other form of art. Paul Poiret is said to have ‘liberated’ women from the corseted look that dominated the 1800s. His lines changed feminine fashion from a series of curves (bosoms and bustles) to straighter lines (beginnings of the ‘flapper’ look - example to the right).
In its early years, Deco was associated with society’s elite, extravagant homes, and lavish lifestyles (think Great Gatsby). Of all the modernist styles, Art Deco was a symbol of prosperity and excess. It is especially associated with the period known in the US as the ‘Roaring 20s’.
Luxury cars like the 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom and the Duesenberg as well as airplanes and even train engines were influenced by Art Deco. Unlike its predecessors and contemporaries, Art Deco is linked closely with mass production. As the shift away from handcrafted goods became increasingly common, and certainly after the US stock market crash in 1929, the style catered to the growing middle class through mass-produced goods. ‘Paste’ gemstones replaced the real thing to make jewelry affordable to a wider market; prints of artwork became increasingly commonplace; fashion once available only to the wealthy could be bought off-the-rack. While the quality may have differed from class to class, the ‘look’ was available to all.
Throughout this period, designers were not afraid to experiment with new looks through materials like stainless steel (picture New York’s Chrysler Building) and Bakelite (one of the first plastics). World commerce was also on the rise after the turn of the last century which meant that designers had more access to new, exotic materials like ebony, ivory, tropical woods, rare silks, jade, and more. They embraced these with creative abandon, developing a wide range of new art in everything from jewelry and clothing to home goods and architecture.
Streamline and symmetry are two key terms to the Deco aesthetic. As a whole, it is identifiable by its straight lines with stark curves which contrast the free-flowing, natural curves of Art Nouveau. These straight lines and sharp curves are evident in pieces like our full moon bed and windowpane credenza.
Art Deco went out of fashion with WWII, but it enjoyed a revitalization in the 60s when it influenced the movement now known as Mid-century Modern. Deco also enjoys mini-revivals whenever cinema draws our attention back to that age. Movies like Titanic and the latest Great Gatsby as well as serial programs like Downton Abbey and others have kept our love of this era and its aesthetic alive and well. We look forward to doing the same in our designs, making this aesthetic a timeless classic.