Style Deep Dive: This is Art Deco Interior Design

Looking for a well-defined introduction to the Art Deco interior design style? We’ve got you covered!

Our in-depth style exploration series meticulously covers eight crucial categories, offering guidance to help you identify and gain a deeper understanding of various home decor and decorating styles. Delve into the distinctive features of each style and glean insights from real examples highlighted at the end of the post. Plus, we share invaluable tips on achieving these looks in your personal space. Get ready to become an expert in interior design styles with us!

In this post we will cover the iconic interior design style that is Art Deco interior design style.

1. How to recognize the Art Deco interior design style

Art Deco is an unashamedly glamorous and opulent design style, known for its bold geometric shapes, lavish ornamentation, and an overall sense of luxury. This style first emerged in the 1920s and 1930s and has been brought to life in movies like Titanic and The Great Gatsby. To spot the Art Deco style involves identifying some key features that set it apart from other design styles. Let’s explore them.

First, look out for bold pattern. Art Deco often incorporates bold geometric shapes, such as zigzags, chevrons, and stepped patterns, all of which create a sense of symmetry and modernity. Secondly, take a look at the materials. Luxurious materials like chrome, glass, and mirrored surfaces are common to the style and enhance the opulence of Art Deco interiors. When it comes to colors, this interior design style often embraces vibrant colors, with bold contrasts and rich hues like deep blues, emerald greens, and striking reds. Some of the patterns and color combinations might look familiar if you are a lover of design history. Why? Art Deco patterns and colors tend to be regal, borrowed from the far reaches of ancient Egypt, a major stylistic influence.

Further Reading: Learn more about ancient Egyptian architecture and interior design and how it shaped modern styles: All Hail Egyptian Interiors!

Furniture in the Art Deco style differs from the traditional furniture of the classic styles. It tends to be sleek, with sharp lines and smooth surfaces, and often features exotic materials like lacquered wood or shagreen. While modern, Art Deco furniture does incorporate ornamental details, such as sunbursts, fluted columns, and stylized motifs, it tends to be bolder than traditional furniture. In fact, the key to recognizing Art Deco lies in understanding its unique place in design history. The style’s harmonious blend of bold design elements and luxurious materials is a celebration of both modernity and elegance.

2. Key features of Art Deco interiors

  • Architectural Features: Symmetry, stepped forms, and geometric patterns define Art Deco architecture. Zigzag motifs, chevrons, and bold curves are common.
  • Color and Textile Profile: Rich, contrasting colors like black, gold, and chrome. Luxurious textiles, such as velvet and lacquered finishes, contribute to the decadent feel.
  • Material Finishes: Shiny and reflective materials like chrome, glass, and mirrors are prevalent. Exotic materials like marble and lacquered wood are also used.
  • Furniture and Decor Style: Streamlined and elegant furniture with bold, angular designs. Furniture tends to be visually ‘heavy‘. Decor features elaborate details, often incorporating motifs like sunbursts and zigzags.

3. A brief history of Art Deco interior style

Art Deco interiors tend to be NSOP personality types according to our 8×2 style categorization method. This means the architecture is modern (N), the color palette is heavy on chroma, or saturated (S), the detailing is mostly ornamental (O), and there tends to be liberal use of pattern (P).This style personality goes by the moniker “The Decorative Modernist”. Very fitting for Art Deco!

Art Deco originated in France after World War I and gained international popularity in the early twentieth century. It arrived on the scene shortly after the advent of the first “modern” style, seen in the arts and crafts movement in the late 1800s and as such it is considered an early modern style. Art Deco is associated with luxury, glamour, and modernity, influencing various art forms, including architecture, fashion, and visual arts.

This AI generated image received a lot of love on Pinterest, and we can see why! The stylistic elements and detailing in this image is classic Art Deco. This sofa doesn’t in fact exist, but if it did it would be recognized 100% as Art Deco in style. Notice the neutral color palette is off-set by punctuations of contrasting black accents, with plenty of metallics in the mix.

While Art Deco emerged as a distinctive design style in the early 20th century it reached its zenith in the 1920s and 1930s. The movement’s stylistic origins can be traced to a diverse range of influences, reflecting a response to the societal changes and artistic trends of the time. Art Deco drew inspiration from various sources, including the bold geometry of Cubism, the sleek lines of the Machine Age, the exotic aesthetics of ancient Egyptian and Aztec art, and the streamlined forms of industrial design.

The Art Deco movement was a reflection of the optimism and dynamism of the interwar period, celebrating technological advancements and a departure from the ornate styles of the preceding Art Nouveau era. The result was a sophisticated and eclectic fusion of influences that defined the Art Deco style.

If you’re familiar with the Art Nouveau style, Art Deco can be interpreted as a masculine evolution of that style. While Art Nouveau is floral, flowing and feminine in nature, Art Deco incorporates right angles and strong geometry.

4. Art Deco interior design style’s popularity over time

In this more updated version of an Art Deco interior we see a contemporary interpretation of the style. Here the geometry usually associated with the style is brought in through the pattern on the floor, the clean wall paneling detail, and a large gilded frame surrounding an abstract artwork. The furniture and light fittings are sleek, but retro. The window frames seem almost industrial modern.

As mentioned earlier, Art Deco reached its zenith in the 1920s and 1930s. It later experienced a revival in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the Art Deco interior design style remains a timeless and influential design aesthetic.

While Art Deco is often considered a modern design style, it is not the earliest modern style. The roots of modern design can be traced back to the late 19th century with the emergence of the Arts and Crafts movement, which sought a return to craftsmanship and simplicity in response to the industrialization of the time. This transition towards modern design continued with the Art Nouveau movement, characterized by organic forms and intricate ornamentation.

Art Deco draws on some of the stylistic influences of the first early modern design movements. At the same time it represents a broader evolution in design that paved the way for the modernist movement of the mid-20th century.

5. How to achieve the Art Deco interior aesthetic

Another contemporary modern room with Art Deco vibes. Again, an abstract artwork centers this living room arrangement. Notice the square and angular shapes of the seating arrangement, which ties in well with the symmetrical table lamps. The color palette is warm and the arrangement is dynamic with blocks of color which play off the artwork, decor and throw cushions in the space. A loose geometric rug keeps it playful.

If you are looking to bring an Art Deco aesthetic to your home or interior, it can be achieved in several ways. Even the most contemporary of interiors can effortlessly channel the Art Deco style by simply incorporating some key design elements. Modern homes with modern architectural features lend themselves particularly well to an Art Deco style, but even simple classic or eclectic features can be incorporated into the look.

To start, embrace bold geometric patterns, such as chevrons and zigzags, either through wallpaper or by custom painting your walls or wall paneling. These same types of design motifs can be brought in through textiles. Remember to opt for luxurious materials like chrome, glass, and mirrored surfaces to infuse a sense of opulence. Reflective surfaces are a good way to do this, and even more contemporary mirrored furniture can be an good way to achieve the look. 

This room has a feminine feel, thanks to the curvy elements in the space. The furniture is bold, but elegant, and the color has been carefully limited to black, white, gold and green. To create a room like this one incorporate geometric patterns with a bold patterned rug, choose a bold and contrasting accent color and opt for shiny and reflective surfaces. Remember to select furniture with streamlined, angular forms to capture the essence of Art Deco. Black lacquered wood or gold trim are good choices.

When it comes to the color palette go bold with deep jewel tones like emerald green and royal blue, and select sleek furniture with clean lines and geometric shapes. Enhance the ambiance with Art Deco accessories, like sunburst mirrors and stylized sculptures. For your lighting you should illuminate your space with streamlined lighting fixtures.

For furnishings, you can opt for rich materials like velvet. Keep your lines clean, unless you find authentic pieces that work particular well with the Art Deco style. In this vein, don’t forget to integrate some inlaid or lacquered surfaces in your furniture for added craftsmanship. Finally, choose bold artwork featuring geometric abstraction or intricate patterns to complete your contemporary Art Deco space. Each of these elements give a nod to the bold and dynamic spirit of Art Deco, and the more of them you use, the more Art Deco your design will be.

Here are some ways to incorporate Art Deco elements into a contemporary design scheme:

  1. Geometric Patterns: Integrate bold geometric patterns, such as chevrons, zigzags, and stepped motifs, into the design. This can be achieved through wallpaper, textiles, or even in the layout of furniture and accessories.
  2. Luxurious Materials: Use luxurious materials like chrome, glass, lacquered wood, and mirrored surfaces to add a touch of opulence. These materials contribute to the glamorous and polished look characteristic of Art Deco interiors.
  3. Rich Color Palette: Embrace a rich color palette with a mix of deep, jewel tones and contrasting hues. Colors like emerald green, royal blue, and burgundy can evoke the vibrant and bold spirit of Art Deco.
  4. Sleek Furniture: Choose furniture with clean lines and sleek profiles. Look for pieces that feature geometric shapes and may incorporate exotic materials or detailing, such as inlay or lacquer.
  5. Art Deco Accessories: Select accessories and decor items that showcase Art Deco motifs. This could include sunburst mirrors, fluted vases, and stylized sculptures. Pay attention to details like symmetry and repetition.
  6. Streamlined Lighting: Incorporate lighting fixtures with a streamlined and elegant design. Look for fixtures that feature geometric shapes, frosted glass, or polished metal finishes to capture the Art Deco aesthetic.
  7. Bold Artwork: Choose artwork that reflects the bold and dynamic qualities of Art Deco. Pieces with geometric abstraction, stylized figures, or intricate patterns can enhance the overall atmosphere.
  8. Inlaid or Lacquered Surfaces: Consider furniture or accent pieces with inlaid patterns or lacquered finishes. This detailing adds a level of craftsmanship and artistry that aligns with Art Deco principles.

By being selective in integrating these common elements of Art Deco design, contemporary interiors can pay homage to the Art Deco style while maintaining a fresh and updated feel. It’s all about striking a balance between modern functionality and the timeless allure of Art Deco design.

6. Dos and don’ts of Art Deco interiors

Dos: Embrace symmetry, use luxurious materials, incorporate geometric patterns, and showcase bold, glamorous decor.

Don’ts: Avoid clutter, overly ornate or flowery details, and mismatched patterns.

7. Which styles share characteristics with Art Deco style?

This monochromatic room has Art Deco vibes, but it is interpreted in a playful way. The room makes use of strong contrasts and heavy geometry, but the patterns are loose and almost whimsical. The furniture in this arrangement lean slightly toward classical, which gives this room a slight, almost Hollywood Regency aesthetic.

Art Deco style is not an eclectic style, since it can be seen as a complete and successful departure from the traditional styles that came before it. Instead, Art Deco falls into the modern-eclectic slot in the modern-traditional spectrum. While it is modern, it is still too ornate to be considered the essence of modern minimalism, which was to follow it through the design ethos of the Bauhaus and mid century modern design.

Having said that, Mid-Century Modern design shares some elements with Art Deco, particularly in its emphasis on clean lines and geometric shapes. However, Art Deco is more opulent and extravagant. Going further back to the dawn of modernism, the Shaker, Arts and Crafts, and Art Deco styles exhibit some commonalities despite their distinct aesthetics. Each style emphasizes craftsmanship and quality materials, with a shared commitment to well-made, handcrafted pieces.

Geometric shapes play a role in both Arts and Crafts and Art Deco, although with differences in execution. Attention to detail is evident in intricate joinery for Arts and Crafts and stylized motifs for Art Deco. Functionality is a priority for the Shaker and Arts and Crafts styles, and a minimalist aesthetic is present in aspects of both styles.

While these parallels exist, it’s important to note that each style emerged in response to unique historical and cultural influences, resulting in distinctive characteristics that define their respective design movements.

8. In the wild: Notable Art Deco designers and examples of Art Deco style

It’s impossible to discuss the Art Deco style without mentioning the pinnacle of the architecture of the age, The Empire State Building in New York City. This jewel of the Art Deco period is an iconic architectural example of Art Deco design.

Some notable designers of the Art Deco era include Eileen Gray and Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann.

Claridge’s Hotel Foyer (London, UK): Claridge’s, a renowned luxury hotel, boasts an Art Deco foyer that captures the glamour of the 1920s and 1930s. The space is adorned with bold geometric patterns, mirrored surfaces, and lavish materials, creating a sophisticated and timeless atmosphere.

The Rand Building (Buffalo, USA): The Rand Building, constructed in 1929, is a prominent example of Art Deco architecture. Its interior features intricate detailing, including geometric motifs, stylized ornamentation, and a mix of luxurious materials, showcasing the hallmarks of the Art Deco style.

Radio City Music Hall (New York City, USA): Opened in 1932, Radio City Music Hall is an iconic entertainment venue with a stunning Art Deco interior. The grand foyer and auditorium showcase the style’s signature elements, including bold colors, streamlined design, and decorative patterns.

The Eltham Palace Entrance Hall (London, UK): The Eltham Palace, originally a medieval palace transformed in the 1930s, features an Art Deco entrance hall. The space combines modern design with historical elements, incorporating geometric patterns, elegant furnishings, and luxurious finishes, illustrating the fusion of past and present in Art Deco interiors.

Thank you for joining us for this deep dive on Art Deco interior design style. If you’d like to stay up to date with the world of interior design, style and professional practice sign up for our free newsletter and get interior design information for a new generation!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *