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Art Deco Style: A triumphant return?

Art deco was once the world’s most popular interior design style. Could it reach such heights again?

Art Deco Style: A triumphant return?

Juliet Taylor


May 30th, 2022

What is art deco interior design and why is it so important? Well, Art Deco was the first design movement that gained momentum across the globe.

Art deco style originated in the early 20th century and was popularized throughout the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Art deco style is recognised by its commitment to unique optical patterns such as spirals and zigzags, the use of rich colours, and luxurious detailing.

Art deco originated in France in the 1920s (then known as style moderne) as a design movement which encapsulated art, music, fashion, architecture, and interior design. By the 1930s it had become one of the world’s most influential design style, sweeping across western Europe and the United States. Art Deco quickly became a symbol of the contemporary world, combining traditional handmade luxury items with the sleek modernity of a mass produced product. Above all else, the goal of art deco style was to create an atmosphere of industrial elegance that communicated luxury and sophistication.

Art deco style drew heavily from the pivotal concepts of a number of previous design styles. With clear influences from cubism, modernism, constructivism and futurism, art deco became a paragon of structure, symmetry and cleanliness in a wonderfully decadent world. Art deco was also a testament to multiculturalism, taking inspiration from African tribal designs, sleek Parisian industrialism, Greco-Roman sculpture and luxury, and the geometrical shapes of Ancient Egypt.  

art deco interior design styles elegant designer ideas mirrors beautiful vintage

Art deco interior design is unique in that it encapsulates a vast number of interior design elements. Art deco is a specific type of vintage furniture, fashion, fixture, colour, and architectural style which has both individual and collective implications. Simply filling a room with art deco furniture is not enough to consider the room an art deco interior; the design movement is concerned with the way that art pieces collaborate within a space to create an atmosphere of industrial elegance.

Art deco’s global influence took firm root in the early 20-30s when it reached Australia. Perhaps the best-known example of Art Deco style in Australia is the ANZAC War Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney. Though art deco reached its peak during the 1930s period, recent design trends have indicated a return to decadence over minimalism – perhaps a suggestion of Art Deco’s impending resurgence.

Interior design styles tend to be cyclical, and a century after Art Deco’s birth interior designers are predicting its return. In Australia, art deco style was the first design trend popularised across the class divide, with the working class and wealthy alike turning to the design movement for inspiration in their interior design. It seems to be headed this way once more, with art deco influences unfurling more and more in contemporary designs. For more information about modern design styles and how they have been historically influenced by the emergence of art deco interior design, see here.

With the resurgence of art deco comes a greater need to understand the crucial principles and concepts of art deco design. To help inspire your next decorating endeavour, here is a list of the most iconic characteristics, ideas and designs in the art deco movement.

The most iconic characteristics of art deco interior design for an art deco house interior

7. Internal doors

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Internal doors in the art deco style should be extravagant and eye-catching. Particularly popular styles include doors with geometric patterns or shapes carved into the wood, as well as ornate glass doors (often with stained glass). French doors are an exceptionally good choice to blend with the art deco style as they contain many geometric shapes and toe the line between beauty and function.

6. Curtains

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Art deco curtains tend to be long, dark, and ornately patterned. These patterns should be the tessellating shapes characteristic to the art deco style and are often made through beading or gold thread to contrast against the dark fabric of the curtain. You can purchase the art deco curtains pictured above here.

5. Fireplace

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Living room fireplaces are a staple of the art deco interior, often made from heavy industrial materials such as brass or steel. An art deco fireplace should be sleek and detailed, like the one pictured above.

4. Wall art

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Wall art is one of the easiest ways to include a little of the art deco influence in your interior design. Strong patterns with a quirky and unique design are the backbone of all art deco paintings or art pieces. They can be hung anywhere – living room, bedroom, kitchen, even the bathroom – because finding art in odd places contributes to the eccentric aesthetic appeal of art deco style.

3. Mirrors

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Mirrors are a hugely important part of art deco style. They are inherently symmetrical, and sectioned mirrors are an excellent way to include geometric shapes within an interior without it appearing to overwhelm other design elements. Large mirrors containing interesting shapes, sections or detailing are the perfect accent to tie together an art deco interior.

2. Homewares

art deco interior design styles elegant designer ideas mirrors beautiful vintage

Art deco homewares refers to the knickknacks and nonessential accents that can provide the final layer for an art deco interior. Things like blankets, rugs, lamps, vases, cushions and even accent chairs are all popular choices for art deco homeware.

Traditional art deco interiors would often include Egyptian motifs, with the symbolism of pyramids a common feature of art deco design. This is due to the fascination of art deco style with ancient Egypt, which was almost certainly inspired by the discovery of King Tut’s tomb during the early years of art deco’s formation.

1. Furniture

art deco interior design styles elegant designer ideas mirrors beautiful vintage

Art deco furniture should be vintage, detailed, and ornate. Handmade items are extremely preferred, as well as heavy and solid materials. Art deco beds, dining room tables and desks are usually made from heavy hardwood materials carved into ornate patterns with light detailing around the edges. Tables and desks may also be made from architectural glass. Art deco couches and chairs are often made from luxurious fabrics like velvet to compliment the industrial look with comfort.

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