Art Deco was an influential design style which first appeared in France during the 1920s and flourished internationally during the 30’s and early 40’s. It is an eclectic style influenced by machine age imagery and materials. One of Deco’s major attributes is an embrace of technology which distinguishes it from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation.
During its heyday Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress. It was a time of energy and excitement. Folks were willing to make bold, new statements with their art, wardrobe, home decor, architecture and automobiles.
These were the buildings of the future: sleek, geometric, dramatic. With their cubic forms and zigzag designs, art deco buildings embraced the machine age. Yet many features of the style were drawn from ancient history. The very shape of these buildings expresses a fascination for orderly forms and primitive architecture. The early Art Deco skyscrapers suggest Egyptian or Assyrian pyramids with terraced steps rising to the top.
Perhaps the most famous example is New York’s Chrysler Building designed by William Van Alen. Briefly the world’s tallest building, the skyscraper is adorned with eagle hood ornaments, hubcaps and abstract images of cars. Other Art Deco architects used stylized flowers, sunbursts, birds and machine gears.
A radical era in automobile design that spawned sleek, streamlined cars with unique aeronautical names.
Defined by the women’s liberation movement, a prosperous economy, and key improvements in technology, all of which led to the development of a whole new way of life – a life of progressive modernity, luxury and leisure.