What is "Art Deco"?

1920s art deco print by George Barbier

Art Deco is a visual arts design style that originated in the early 20th century. Known for its rich colors, bold geometry, and decadent detail work, the Art Deco style represents luxury, glamour, and a faith in technological progress. Whether you're an enthusiast of art deco architecture, a fan of the typography, or someone who swoons over art deco interior design, this style has something for everyone. Having an art deco home or even a singular art deco print can instantly elevate the style and sophistication of your living space.

What Defines Art Deco Style?

Art Deco is characterized by its geometric patterns, symmetrical designs, and often extravagant embellishments. Think of the roaring '20s, where jazz was alive, and the mood was all about opulence. Art deco architecture often features stepped forms, rounded corners, and bold horizontal and vertical lines. The art deco artist pays keen attention to detail, using sumptuous materials like marble, lacquer, and fine woods, usually inlaid with expensive metals.

The colors used are typically rich and striking, including golds, blacks, chromes, and silvers. Art deco typography, too, is remarkably distinct—employing bold, linear, and clean fonts that scream modernity. Consider adding an art deco print to your decor project: not only does it embody a glamorous aesthetic, but it also carries a sense of history and elegance that is genuinely timeless.

How Did Art Deco Start?

The Art Deco era began in the 1920s, right after World War I. It debuted in France and quickly spread worldwide. In many ways, Art Deco was seen as a reaction against the more ornate and flowery Art Nouveau style, which preceded it. It was meant to signify a break from tradition, embracing modernity and the technological advancements of the time. Artists like George Barbier were instrumental in popularizing the art deco aesthetic, combining influences from different cultures and eras to create something opulent yet modern.

Why Did Art Deco Go Away?

While Art Deco experienced its zenith in the late 1920s and through the 1930s art style, its popularity began to decline with the onset of World War II. The opulence and luxury that were the hallmarks of Art Deco seemed inappropriate during the wartime years. Minimalism took over, and the elaborate detailing and expensive materials that characterized Art Deco were no longer viable. However, even if the style experienced a decline, the influence of Art Deco buildings, art, and furniture never truly vanished.

What is the Difference Between Art Nouveau and Art Deco?

While both styles have their roots in the desire to bring art into everyday life, they are distinct in their expressions. Art Nouveau, which preceded Art Deco, is characterized by its organic forms, intricate patterns, and often romantic themes. In contrast, Art Deco is all about geometric shapes, symmetry, and a sense of the futuristic. Where Art Nouveau might feature intricate floral patterns and flowing lines, Art Deco employs streamlined, geometric forms and a more linear approach. Both are undeniably beautiful, but they cater to different tastes and sensibilities.

What Time Period is Art Deco?

The Art Deco era is primarily associated with the 1920s through the 1930s. It was a time of prosperity, technological advancements, and a shift towards modernity. Even if you live in a 21st-century setting, integrating Art Deco elements into your home can transport you to this golden age, providing a taste of that exuberance and confidence that defined the era.

Will Art Deco Come Back?

In many ways, Art Deco has never really gone away. Its influence can still be seen in modern design, from fashion to furniture. Given the cyclical nature of style, Art Deco has seen resurgences in popularity, especially when people crave a return to glamour and opulence. Buying an Art Deco print for your home decor projects could be a stylish way to pay homage to this timeless era, combining both past and present in a beautifully harmonious setting.

Add a touch of sophistication to your life with Art Deco. Whether it's a print, a piece of furniture, or even just a small decorative item, Art Deco adds a flair that is unmatched, standing as a testament to an era that celebrated life in its most luxurious form.

Explore the full collection of 1920s Jazz Age art deco prints now!