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From Gatsby and the Roaring ‘20s – How Art Deco Became a Design Movement

by Heather Warthen
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When the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2020, the world celebrated with “Gatsby”-themed parties and bright aspirations for the coming decade. I’m sure many of us yearned for the glitz and glamour that characterized the Roaring ‘20s a century ago, but here we are in 2020, where those dreams couldn’t feel further from reality. Considering how 2020 has gone thus far, it’s ironic that the most popular style movement of the 1920s decade – Art Deco – represented adventure, optimism and luxury. Let’s put this year aside for a moment and take a look back at the history of Art Deco. It might even inspire us to add a little more glamour to our current lives at home.

Art Deco can be summarized as a beautiful amalgamation of simplicity and opulence, nature and machine, and past and future. You’ll notice bold geometric patterns in symmetrical arrangements and simple shapes covered in vibrant, contrasting colors. A description by Britannica states that silver, jade and ivory are popular natural materials, while vita-glass, steel and ferroconcrete are frequently included man-made substances. Artists gained inspiration from Fauvism, Futurism, Constructivism and Suprematism, as well as from ancient Asian, Mesoamerican and African cultures. 

Also known as style moderne, Art Deco originated in the 1920s and spread through western Europe and the US in the ‘30s. The style was first exhibited at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriel Modernes in Paris during a time in desperate need of “modern” design inspiration. According to a Widewalls article, the end of World War I and the Great Depression marked a period of newfound optimism for the future. What came out of this was a sleek decorative arts and architecture movement that symbolized wealth, sophistication and progress. 

Hollywood films helped spread the movement around the world and established it as the epitome of glamorous style. The first Art Deco wave saw the building of Rockefeller Center in New York, Delano Hotel in Miami and Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles. They represented and inspired new aspirations and desires to the youth in the post-war era. Unfortunately, World War II slowed down the movement, but it was revitalized with the rise of the consumerist culture in the 1960s. Strong Art Deco influences are still present today, namely in fashion and industrial design. 

Of course, Art Deco style homes are also still seen today. I consider it a classic design choice for both interiors and exteriors. Consider adding a rich pop of color or geometric accent wall to your home as an ode to the century old movement. Hopefully it brings glamour and optimism into your life.

Article by Megan Kong, REX Homes

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