High-impact glamour, elaborate motifs, geometric silhouettes, rich colors, and nostalgic drama all come to life in Art Deco architecture and design. First emerging in Europe in the 1920s, this movement was born out of a desire to reflect notions of progress and modernity while also beautifying the mundane and mass-produced. And since Art Deco thrived between the two major world wars, it reflects the historical ups and downs of the period, from the opulent speakeasies of the prohibition era to the industrial scraps of repurposed metal that became necessary during the major depression. And today designers are breathing new life into this Old World style.
What Is Art Deco?
Art Deco is an art, architectural, and design style characterized by bold, geometric patterns and shapes, symmetrical arrangements, glamor, luxury, and the use of a variety of materials including aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic. The movement was inspired by industrialization and technical progress and it flourished during the 1920s–1940s.
If you love history, art, and design and want to take style notes from Art Deco architecture, scroll through the 14 striking examples below.
Given that the movement represents cutting-edge modernity, it's no surprise that Los Angeles is home to some of the most magnificent Art Deco architecture. The Eastern Colombia Building is a perfect example: Designed by Claud Beelman and opened in 1930, its glossy turquoise color adds a touch of whimsy to the austere effect of the geometric shapes.
Though the fan, peacock, and zigzag prints were the probably the biggest pattern trends to come out of Art Deco textile design, floral motifs on silky materials were also quite popular. Another staple was the makeshift dressing room vis-à-vis a shapely upholstered folding screen. Decorated by French designer Jacques Garcia, NoMad New York features both elements.
As with all styles of architecture, Art Deco takes on new forms depending on the region. In Miami, the Art Deco buildings are extremely vibrant, featuring brilliant shades of pastels, shorter heights, and more organic shapes.This reflects the laid-back beach town culture and maritime connections. Though there are plenty of similarities, the Art Deco architecture and design in Miami is different enough to earn its own name: Tropical Deco.
Playful Meets Luxe
London hot spot Sketch is a gorgeous combination of traditional Victorian architecture with contemporary Art Deco–inspired design elements. Complete with velvet sofas and barrel chairs in a Millennial Pink hue as well as zigzag tiles, it doesn't get more Insta-worthy than this.
Did we mention the power of a fancy folding screen with gold accents and plenty of antique sophistication? Aside from boasting plenty of details and contrasting patterns, lighting is another detail that offers a ton of Art Deco style opportunities. The same attention to intricacy and shape shines through while also offering you the change to play with proportion, another key element of Art Deco architecture and design. When you need inspiration, look no further than the NoMad New York lobby.
Modern Meets Art Deco
Designed by California-based interior designer Emily Henderson, this space is a gorgeous representation of a modern take on Art Deco design. From the geometric stained glass in pastel hues to a rose-gold floor lamp, tufted kelly-green tufted sofa, and hot-pink Art Deco carpet, every single item is a modern-day version of designs from yesteryear.
Decadent in material and design just like the original bones of this Art Deco building, the Freehand Hotel in New York embodies the intersection of nostalgia and progression and then makes it stylish. It also feels a little like a cruiseliner thanks to the small circular mirrors evocative of windows on the lower deck.
Located in Downtown Los Angeles, Union Station fuses a few of the predominant architectural influences of the areas, including Mission Revival and Art Deco, anchoring in a strong sense of place. The dramatically high ceilings along with the repetition of the arches make it feel like you're stepping inside a kaleidoscopic time machine.
To incorporate subtle Art Deco design, opt for bedding that features zigzag details, velvet upholstery and tufting and carpets with large-scale motifs. Though this California bedroom looks thoroughly contemporary, the Art Deco accents definitely shine through, giving it unique appeal.
This design movement extended across all art forms, including the visual arts. Some of the characteristics of Art Deco paintings are defined largely by semirealistic portraits with traces of Cubism. Like the architecture and design manifestations of Art Deco, many of the Art Deco paintings were elaborate, sensual, and full of intricate patterns. Think vintage Vogue covers and Tamara de Lempicka. For a similar feel at home, opt for some cool pillowcases or bedding items with a similar print.
Harsh Meets Homey
The harshness of the geometric lines and the neutral color scheme are warmed up with soft throws and plenty of greenery. The decorative accents and planters also offer up some inspiration for anyone who wants to try out the Art Deco–inspired trend at home without investing in new pieces or a full-on remodel.
A Fresh Take
Here's a bedroom that exudes Art Deco design without feeling overly retro. The headboard is reminiscent of Art Deco building facades, tapering off at the top and featuring ornate patterns. The gold sconces bring in some sophistication, while the sky-blue loveseat feels fresh and new.
Though the wooden ceilings, stone fireplace, and iron-wrought candelabra sconces boast a more Mission Revival style, many of the decorative accents are taking notes from Art Deco trends like Brutalism. So if you're a fan of eclectic interiors, consider this living room your roadmap.
Finally, here's a living room environment that's a lot less elaborate and more liveable than traditional Art Deco interiors, but it still incorporates a few details to dress things up a bit. For example, the two-pronged floor lamp features a distinctly elegant silhouette that was popular during the Art Deco movement.