The Great Comeback of Art Deco Inspired Furniture
If you’ve ever seen any of the iterations of the Great Gatsby, you’re probably familiar with the aesthetic of Art Deco.
But why is this design movement making a comeback now, a hundred years after it first hit the scene? And more importantly, how can we incorporate it into our living rooms, bedrooms, and home offices?
To understand the aspirational nature of this emerging trend, we have to know how it formed in the first place. But don’t worry, if you’re just here for some tips for incorporating Art Deco furniture into your home, we’ll get to that too!
A Brief History of the Art Deco Movement
The Art Deco aesthetic is a direct result of the culture of the 1920s. Before the Great Depression hit the world in the 1930s, people were having a grand ol’ time. The Great War had just ended, hemlines and hairstyles were getting shorter, and the art world was thriving. That optimism gave birth to Art Deco, which got its name from the 1925 international exhibition hosted in Paris. Des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes introduced most of the crucial elements of the style.
Inspired by Aztec and Egyptian art, the style was a mix of zigzag, geometric shapes, streamlined and symmetrical patterns, and bold and metallic colors. As a celebration of industrial advancements across sectors, the movement quickly spread. People were making and buying Art Deco furniture, jewelry, and, of course, clothing.
Still, you don’t need to dig up an old copy of Vogue to fully experience the glamor of Art Deco. Thanks to the expansion of zoning laws that allowed the construction of skyscrapers in urban areas, the evidence of the movement is all around us. You may even find a few buildings from the era in your area too. The Empire State Building in New York is a perfect example, as are the Chrysler Building, the Radio City Music Hall, and many others.
While we’re on the subject of America, we can’t forget that the Roaring Twenties looked notably different in the US. Remember, this kind of lavish culture developed during the Prohibition era. Between that and the incoming Great Depression as well as the Second World War, the movement was regrettably short-lived.
The Death and Rebirth of Art Deco
As the financial and political situations in the world took a turn for the worst, the extravagance of the Art Deco movement became its downfall. In the following decades, art became rather minimal. Still, Art Deco returned as soon as the tide started turning in the 1960s. Up until then, most people conflated the style we now know as Art Deco with the Art Moderne movement. It received its proper name in 1968 when British art critic Bevis Hillier coined the term “Art Deco.”
Even so, we wouldn’t see the aesthetic of the movement take flight until another era of excess rolled around. The artists of the 1980s took the style of Art Deco and ran with it. And we can see the same pattern repeating today! After all, the 1980s and the 2020s are both exemplified by rapid technological advancements. And if you’ll recall, the Art Deco movement was originally a celebration of industrial and economic growth. So it makes sense that an aesthetic associated with concepts of technology, wealth, and leisure is on its way back right now.
Of course, unlike the 1920s and the 1980s, the 2020s don’t look like they’ll be a particularly auspicious era. So in a way, incorporating Art Deco pieces into your home can have an aspirational purpose. But before we make some suggestions for using Art Deco furniture in your home, let’s talk about what kind of pieces we’ll be working with.
The Characteristics of Art Deco Furniture
Now, we already know the main decorative staples of this movement. But what does that look like in furniture form? Well, like all items that represent the style, Art Deco furniture is luxurious — though it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Original Art Deco pieces from the 1920s often achieved that lavish look with wood veneers and high polish finishes. Meanwhile, the furniture itself was often built out of cheap wood like pine and maple. Still, the finished result usually featured rich wooden colors and textures, often decorated with gold and black designs inspired by Japanese lacquerware. Those designs were often symmetrical, abstract, and geometrical. Yet, nature-inspired elements were also popular — with the most notable examples being sunrise patterns.
The furniture of this era was typically rectangular with a mixture of straight and curved lines. Some items — such as wardrobes and bookshelves — mimicked skyscrapers by incorporating a stepped, vertical design. In addition to wooden furniture, shiny chrome and glass pieces were also popular. Many furniture items incorporated metal accents through decorative feet or handles.
On top of that, Art Deco furniture is also exemplified by overstuffed armchairs and sofas. These pieces would provide the ultimate comfort while also elevating the appearance of a room. Some of the most iconic chairs and sofas of the period were inspired by organic shapes like shells. And thanks to the use of synthetic fabrics, you could still find many of these pieces in their original condition.
How to Incorporate Art Deco Furniture Into Your Home
When it comes to decorating our homes with Art Deco-inspired furniture, we ought to keep things minimal. Rather than decking the whole house out in 1920s memorabilia, we should limit our usage of Art Deco designs. At least, that’s what we ought to do if we don’t want to live on a Great Gatsby movie set.
Having a geometric wallpaper accent wall and an overstuffed sofa in the living room would be the perfect way to ensure we don’t go overboard. Alternatively, we might get an antique mirror and complement it with furniture items that have similar shapes. Either way, one or two pieces per room should create an ongoing theme of luxury without overwhelming the more modern pieces in the home.