Art Deco Style

The Art Deco style developed in France between 1908 and 1912 and then spread to the rest of Europe reaching a peak between 1925 and 1935.

In 1925, Paris was the location for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes; this gave us the name 'art deco'. The exhibition was meant to occur in 1908 but kept being postponed until 1925.

The objective was to be 'modern' hence 'style moderne'. Themes are escapism, fantasy, speed and glamour.

As decorative or artistic style it was used in buildings in the moderne style but also in decorative features in other styles. Influences were ancient Egyptian, Aztec and Chinese motifs and patterns, including sun ray designs, chevron motifs and zig zag patterns.

As an architectural stye, the proponents, such as Le Corbusier, argued against decoration and saw buildings as machines, stripped of decoration, focused on fitness for purpose. Designs are hard, brutal, with no compromises for comfort and homeliness.

The Art Deco decorative style initially featured rounded motifs, such as foliage and flowers, but later these became more abstract and geometric, such as sunburst patterns. Some designs indicated speed with strong lateral lines, often tapered. House-owners decorated their houses with fireplaces and furniture, wallpapers and fabrics in Art Deco designs.

Ultimately the Art Deco style split; in France it persisted as a decorative style, elsewhere as a minimalist design as the moderne style and in the USA as 'jazz moderne'. Both developed through the 1920s and 1930s, influencing and conflicting with each other.

In Great Britain the style persisted largely in furniture, wallpaper and fabrics, and also in decorative items. In the USA Art Deco flourished in architecture, particularly in commercial buildings.