Glossary

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco is a prominent and influential design style that emerged in the early 20th century, particularly flourishing in the 1920s and 1930s. Its distinctive blend of bold geometric shapes, lavish ornamentation, and a sense of luxury and modernity characterizes it. Art Deco found expression in various forms of visual arts, architecture, fashion, and industrial design, leaving an indelible mark on the era's aesthetics.

Key Characteristics:

1. Geometric Shapes: Art Deco is renowned for using geometric shapes, including zigzags, chevrons, sunbursts, and rectangles. These shapes are often arranged in symmetrical and angular patterns, creating a sense of order and balance in design.


2. Ornamentation: While emphasizing geometric simplicity, Art Deco also incorporates lavish ornamentation. Intricate motifs, such as stylized flowers, animals, and exotic materials like ivory, ebony, and chrome, are typical embellishments.


3. Materials: Art Deco frequently utilizes modern and luxurious materials such as glass, metal, lacquer, and highly polished wood. These materials contribute to the wealthy and sophisticated feel of Art Deco design.


4. Streamlined Design: Art Deco embraced a streamlined and modern approach, unlike earlier decorative styles. It was especially evident in transportation design, where automobiles, trains, and ocean liners adopted sleek, aerodynamic forms.


5. Symmetry: Symmetry is a fundamental element of Art Deco. Buildings, furniture, and decorative objects often feature symmetrical arrangements, providing balance and order.


6. Influence of Cultures: Art Deco drew inspiration from various cultural influences, including Egyptian, African, and Native American art. This eclectic fusion of styles contributed to its unique and diverse character.


The term "Art Deco" is believed to have originated from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris, which showcased the new design trends of the time. However, the style's roots can be traced back to the early 20th century when it emerged as a reaction against the ornate and elaborate Art Nouveau style. Art Deco represented a break from tradition and a celebration of modernity.


Art Deco gained international popularity and left an indelible mark on architecture and design worldwide. Iconic Art Deco buildings are celebrated landmarks, such as the Empire State Building in New York City and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.


The legacy of Art Deco endures in contemporary design and continues to inspire artists, architects, and designers. Its aesthetic principles, characterized by a harmonious blend of form and function, continue influencing modern design sensibilities.


Art Deco symbolizes the glamour, sophistication, and optimism of the early 20th century. Its bold and eclectic style, marked by geometric shapes, ornamentation, and modern materials, continues to captivate and inspire those with an appreciation for design history and innovation. Whether in architecture, fashion, or decorative arts, Art Deco's enduring appeal is a testament to its status as a timeless and influential design movement.


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