Art Deco – one of the most enduring design styles

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Petra Bjelica
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The Art Deco movement is one of the most popular styles of design, architecture and visual arts, and one of the first truly international movements in the history of design.

It began in 1910 as a reaction of French manufacturers to the simple and clean-lined German Biedermeier style they witnessed when the president of the Paris salon d’Automne, Frantz Jourdan, invited German designers to present from Munich.

Grand Rex movie theatre in Paris (1932). Photo Credit

In 1912 at the Salon d’Automne, the French presented their own style that was highly influenced by movements such as Fauvism, its abundance of bright and flashy colors, and its sharp angles inspired by Cubism.

Furniture in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Photo credit dalbera

The most influential French designers present were Louis Süe and André Mare, whose furniture designs included expensive and exotic materials, prints, and colorful fabrics. Their Atelier Française was one of the most famous and prolific French furniture design brands after the World War I.

But it was after the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Industriels Modernes in 1925 that Le Corbusier wrote a series of articles about the exhibition and shortened the name into Art Deco.

Art Deco combined neoclassicism and Art Nouveau but reflected modern technology and the general belief in progress that came at the end of the WWI. The austerity after the war influenced the initial craving for luxury and opulence.

Desk of Administrator by Michel Roux Spitz, 1930, Photo credit SiefkinDR

The Roaring 20s and enthusiasm of the so-called machine age were demonstrated in the forms of avant-garde movements such as Constructivism and Futurism that also left traces of the extravagant aesthetics of Art Deco. In contrast, the structures and sharp geometrical shapes were also taken from the ancient architecture of Egypt, Aztec, Babylon, and Greek and Roman Classicism.

Art Deco combined all these principles, creating a style that was purely decorative without any deep philosophical basis.

The famous Decorative Arts Exposition in 1925 gathered all important furniture and interior designers. One of the most outstanding designers was Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, who was known for his highly sophisticated furniture, using expensive and very rare materials like Brazilian rosewood or ebony. Some of the most praised, elegant, and timeless pieces of furniture were made by him.

Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Photo credit Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

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