What is Art Deco?

It is often assumed that Art Deco, was an artistic movement that supplanted, and was a reaction against the preceding style Art Nouveau. In fact, it was more of an extension, which evolved and embraced a diversity of styles and influences.

The Art Deco style is generally seen as emerging at end of the First World War, and fading as the Second World War begins. The First World War is generally seen as a dividing line between Nouveau and Deco. If anything the war only served to delay what had already begun to flower as early as 1908.

The name, short for Arts Décoratifs, originated from the ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) held in Paris in 1925. Though the term ‘Art Deco’ wasn’t coined until the 1960s.

It combined modernist styles with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. During its heyday in the mid 1920s and 1930s, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and became a banner for social and technological progress.

Its perhaps difficult for us today to imagine a style that had so much influence over many areas – the applied arts, architecture, product design, furniture, interior design, the graphic arts and advertising.