Art Deco defined

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.45.17 pm

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.49.05 pm

From L to R: Hotel De Ville Print Art, Black/Gold, Cocktail Hour Print Art, Bangalore Print Art, and Orbital Print Art, Black/Gold from Americanflat, available online at Zanui.

Following on from Art Nouveau, which took organic forms as its inspiration, Art Deco’s stylistic references were eclectic, ranging from geometric abstraction to tribal art and Egyptian civilisation and popular culture.

Images sourced L to R: nyc-architecture.com and indulgy.com

Although it originated in France, this concentration on all things lavish quickly spread.

From L to R: Bordeaux Headboard, Stockton Bedside Table, Brentwood Bedside Table, Amaroni Cabinet and Lauren Sideboard from Café Lighting, available online at Zanui

America was in the grips of Prohibition in the mid-1920s and culture pivoted around going to speakeasies and nightclubs around the country. Art Deco fashion reflected women’s desire to move freely with slits down the thigh for energetic dances like “The Charleston”. An androgynous look was favoured in keeping with the contemporary gender crisis…

Images sourced L to R: sharonscrapbook.blogspot.com, char.txa.cornell.edu and 1920s-fashion-and-music.com

In the 30s Art Deco became associated with the idyllic Hollywood lifestyle, with luxury and glamour and sophistication with its sculptural and geometric accents.

From L to R: Stockton Wall Mirror, 79 x 79cm, Stockton Square Side Table, Stockton Bedside Table, Stockton Wall Mirror, 40 x 40cm, and Stockton Console Table from Cafe Lighting, available online at Zanui.

Art Deco prioritised superior craftsmanship (with a focus on hand-sculpted designs) and luxurious materials such as exotic woods, mother of pearl and fine mirrors.

From L to R: Damario Round Wall Mirror, Silver, 44.5cm, Carrington Photo Frame (Set of 2), Carrington Jewellery Box, and Xalvador Round Wall Mirror, Silver, 48.5cm by Cafe Lighting, available online at Zanui.

This focus on handcrafted elements meant that it was incompatible with the industrialised production that was coming into being, making it relatively short-lived at the time. And the arrival of World War II put an end to this maximalist aesthetic.

Images sourced L to R: headtotoefashionart.com and artdeco.org

And yet it’s legacy lives on. You only have to look at this year’s Eurovision contestants and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby to realise that Art Deco has experienced a revival.

From L to R: Ella Diamond Arm Chair, Duke Armchair, Duke Bed End and Chantilly 6-Arm Chandelier by Cafe Lighting, available online at Zanui.

This appreciation began as early as the 60s when collectors began to seek out designer pieces. In the 1980s, post-modern designers again began drew on its excess and exuberance for inspiration.

From L to R: Leon Table Lamp, Serafina Chandelier, Clarissa Table Lamp and Kavari Chandelier by Cafe Lighting, available online at Zanui.

In contemporary interiors, Art Deco pieces create a statement adding a decorative flourish and a sense of opulence. It’s hard not to fall under the spell of this striking feminine style.

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.