Art Deco architecture flourished throughout the world between the years of the World Wars. Art Deco is one of the first true international styles. You can find these buildings from India to the United States.
Art Deco architecture stemmed from designs of the previous art age, Art Nouveau. Yet, it was distinct from them. They reflected a new found hope in the future, the need to look forward and not back. According to Robert McGregor with the Art Deco Trust, Art Deco style reflected “confidence, vigor, and optimism by using symbols of speed, progress, and power.”
What is Art Deco Architecture?
Art Deco architecture was the building design manifestation of the broader artistic movement of the same name. The beginnings of Art Deco architecture can be seen in the works of Josef Hoffman and Auguste Perret in the early 1900s in Vienna and Paris. Yet, Art Deco as a defined style, took shape in 1925 after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.
The Art Deco movement was a mix of different styles. These included the natural motifs popular in the preceding Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles, the geometric forms popular in Cubism, and the bold colors of Fauvism. Above all, it was a celebration of modernity and machinery, both a sign of progress after the devastation of World War I. Art Deco art forms made their way into designs at every level of human life from fine art and architecture to industrial design and household objects.
Related: Haussmann Architecture: Defining the Elements of This Iconic Style
Art Deco architecture, like other forms of applied Art Deco design, combines craftsmanship with gorgeous designs and materials. This combination was embraced by architects throughout the world. Also, like the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau, there was special attention paid to the interior spaces as well as the exterior. It was not just a “gallery” art form, but a cohesive design style for textiles, metalwork, furniture, and wallpaper.
The End and Legacy of the Art Deco Movement
Art Deco was the dominant design style from 1925-1940. But, it became more streamlined during the 1930s and the Great Depression. This new style of Art Deco became known as Streamline Moderne. This style fell out of fashion after the end of World War II.
Art historians understand that design themes are cyclical. According to some trend forecasters in the Washington Post, Art Deco style is primed for a revival. It echoes themes of hope when the world seems gloomy. It signifies comfort and chic that is attractive in these days of uncertainty.
Art Deco Architecture Elements
- Use of geometric detailing for ornate embellishment like repeating, vertical, and harmonious shapes and lines
- Natural motifs including stylized flowers, plants, animals and the female form but using more rectangular forms
- Decorative elements taken from other traditions. These include Japanese woodcuts, Russian ballet, folk art, and ancient traditions like Egyptian and Mesapotamian
- Use of building material consistent with modernity like stucco, glass, chrome, steel, plastics, and aluminum.
- Use of luxurious natural materials such as rock crystal, obsidian, ivory, and jade
- Attention paid to the cohesion of interior and exterior spaces
- Use of bold color to highlight contrast
- Spires and parapets to increase the look of glamor and ascension
Examples of Art Deco Architecture: Interior and Exterior
Art Deco is a style that takes on the characteristics of different locations based on their local design style. We have gathered some global Art Deco architecture examples. See the ways that they each differ according to location.
The Chrysler Building – New York City
William Van Allen and William Reynolds designed the Chrysler Building which builders completed in 1930, it is the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework. The building stands 1048 feet high. The ornamentation includes the terraced crown top and the stainless steel cladding. It also includes a lush and colorful interior. The interior and exterior design make it one of the most famous examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.
New India Assurance Building – Mumbai, India
Master, Sarhe, and Brute designed the New India Assurance Building. Construction was completed in 1936. The structure features reinforced concrete, a building material common in Art Deco design. The outer facade has strong vertical ribs with stylized classical and folk features. Experts have named these unique decorations and others like it “domestic art deco” or “Bombay deco”.
Fairmont Peace Hotel – Shanghai, China
The Fairmont Peace Hotel, which used to go by the names the Cathay Hotel and the Peace Hotel, stands in the busy city of Shanghai. Victor Sassoon, a British businessman, commissioned the hotel. The building was completed in 1929. The lobby features luxurious materials, decorative geometric shapes, and stained glass. These signify its glorious Art Deco roots.
Empire State Building, New York
The Empire State Building is a skyscraper that decorates the New York City landscape. Builders completed this building in 1931. At 1251 feet and with the addition of a 222-foot antenna in 1950, it remained the tallest building in the world until 1971. The architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates designed this skyscraper as an Art Deco building. Many know the interior lobby for its superb Art Deco design.
Palais De Chaillot – Paris, France
The Palais de Chaillot is located in the Trocadero Gardens just across the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower. The architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu, and Leon Azema designed the building for the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques Applied to Modern Life.
The interior of the building houses the Theatre national de Chaillot. This features gilded molding, geometric flooring, and colorful wall murals in keeping with the Art Deco style.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What is the difference between the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles?
Art Nouveau a style that precedes Art Deco. They have definite similarities as there were later proponents of Art Nouveau that moved into Art Deco. Both styles care about using superior quality material and craftsmanship. Also, both styles use natural motifs for decorations including plant life, animals, and the female form. Yet, where Art Nouveau loves curves and sinuous movement, Art Deco style prefers more geometric and rectangular shapes.
Are architects creating Art Deco buildings today?
Art Deco style is making a comeback in both design and architecture. Art Deco revival projects are happening in both restoration and new design. These include the 180 East 88th in New York, the Paradiso Ibiza in Miami, and the Tilden Hotel in San Francisco.
How can I bring Art Deco style to my home?
Art Deco style is all about opulence and luxurious materials. Incorporate rich fabrics like velvet, satin, and silk. Use rich and bold colors to create contrast. Add geometric pieces that have straight and simple lines. Remember, you don’t have to copy Art Deco in an exact way. Instead, you can bring Art Deco into the present with new materials with the right shape and colors.
Were there other competing styles during the Art Deco period?
There were various other competing styles with the Art Deco period. These include the later period of Art Nouveau, Modernism, Futurism, Bauhaus, Surrealism, Scandinavian Modern, Streamlining, and Organic Design.
Art Deco architecture holds an important place in history and is valued today for its innovative and creative designs. This style helps us remember a time of comfort and luxury. It is an attractive look and effective if you want a change from the spare and edited styles of today.