Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Art Deco

Art Deco was a popular design style that started in the 1920s, and strongly carried on until the early 1940s. Art Deco was a mostly decorative style that was applied to a wide range of architecture and interior design, as well as visual and graphic arts. This style was seen as a form of modernism because it preserved principles of elegance and simplicity, while maintaining functionality.
Many French Artists including Hector Guimard and Emile Decour, who controlled the foundation of the style, first introduced art deco to the world. In 1925, these French artists organized the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts, which showcased the new art deco style.
During the 20s and 30s modern technology such as radio, air travel, and electricity highly influenced the development of the art deco style. The chevron pattern, zigzag pattern, and sunburst theme were common graphic depictions of such technology. Materials such as stainless steel, inlaid wood, and black lacquer accompanied these bold geometric motifs. This style immediately followed the end of World War 1 (1914- 1918), and preceded the Great Depression. Highly decorative forms were somewhat lavish during the Art Deco style as a counteraction to the depression of war.
Art deco style is primarily seen in Miami?s Art Deco Historical District. During the 1920s, John Collins and Carl Fisher transformed South Beach Miami during the boom of Art Deco style, yielding the South Beach we know today. My recent trip to South Beach revealed the dominance of bright pastel color themes in the Art Deco architecture. This style is almost excessive in South Beach because it consumes every building in sight; however, it fits in extremely well in such a tropical location. Would such a style fit in so agreeably at another location? Art deco style is seen in other cities around the United States, but imagine if another city (such as NYC) was strictly dominated by Art Deco Style. The style was booming during the 20s and 30s, but is it a style that can carry on universally through time? Was Art Deco just a decorative phase, or can it be recognized as a significant movement that can successfully be applied in any environment?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Art Deco

The Art Deco style was characterized by sharp, almost harsh angles and cubistic forms, similar to the Modern Movement. The main difference between the two was that Art Deco was a fashion and more decorative statement, rather than the function statement the Modern Movement made. Also, the Art Deco style was developed and expected to take its place in the order of design eras, like a slow development instead of a completely new one.

The Art Deco style utilized aluminum and other polished metals, black lacquer, glass, and mirrors in the interiors. The furniture of the style mimicked the skyscrapers outside and was made of rich materials like macassar ebony, zebrawood with ivory, tortoiseshell, and leather inlays. All of these were employed for the purpose of making it luxurious, modern, and sleek.

The Art Deco style was expensive for the common person at the time, yet the general public became familiar with it through restaurants, hotels, and new ocean liners, like the Normandie. Although only the wealthy could have Art Deco in their homes, the middle and lower class

in France, the United States, Britain, and Scandinavia got to appreciate it through public settings.

One of the more prominent features of the Art Deco style is the influence that new technology had on the development of the style and the colors it incorporated. Blue was prominent in the style, because its affiliation with electricity, which was growing more widespread throughout this period. Black and chrome were widespread in this era, because they suggested new developments and cutting edge technology. Also, the radio, electricity, and jazz music played a part in how line and shape was used. The zig-zag shapes of the Art Deco style suggest a relationship between all three, like the rhythm of jazz, the sound waves of the radio, and the current of electricity. Furniture containted stepped forms, mimicking the wave of new skyscrapers at the time. The developments occurring outside of the design world still incorporated themselves into new designs. Is this always the case? If so, what other styles has this occurred in?

This blog is intended for the interior design students in the college of design at the University of Kentucky. It was created with the intent to present students with information, providing them with a channel for contemplation and discussion.