Art Deco

Art Deco

Style, which goes away and comes back…

Each epoch is marked with its own aesthetical ideal, and certain periods differ by searching of a special rhythm, which would best express the stream of time. Quite often an image of the present realities is based on some simplification of the past traditions and creating something new not less complicated. Taking new measurements for a perfect “façon” for the present, history creates unexpected images, in which the present reality is beyond any tradition. It becomes something new not only in relation to the past, but also in relation to its time.
It’s hardly to say, that this style was at once understood or accepted. It was considered as some “strange expression of fashion”, it was defined as a “fake luxury” and even associated with the films “noir”. But it was some “intellectual shocking”, which manifested a true essence of style.

Art Deco
Antiqued and leaded mirror in Dèco style ascribed to Serge Roche. Arte Veneziana

A unique synthesis of arts, wild exotic, archaic artefacts and jazz rhythms.
The most eclectic, non-duplicated and luxurious.
Style, which goes away and comes back –
“Modernistic”, “Jazz Modern”, “Poiret’s Style”, “Zigzag Moderne”, Belle Epoque, or just –
Art Deco.

Art Deco
“Luna” collection (living) by Giorgio Collection

Keeping a discipline of the compositional symmetry, but replacing the ornaments and fluid lines by constructive shapes and disturbing pace – the period of Art Deco offered its own aesthetical ideal.
It is known, Art Deco took its name from the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which took place in Paris in 1925.

 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts 1925

The main rules of this exhibition were: “all works have to be modern” and “no historical styles were allowed”. The main theme of this exhibition was to show the interior design “in a new style”. French manufacturers presented luxurious furniture, lighting, carpets, glass and porcelain, textile and other decorative objects. There were new sources of inspiration – it is about contemporary painting and sculpture, fashion and original interpretations of Neoclassical furniture, and sensation – the Ballets Russes in Paris.

International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts 1925
Ruhlmann’s Pavilion

International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts 1925
This “new style” was not something “statical”, it had no a “uniform” – it seemed to be a “collection” of various and even contradictory styles, combining modernism with fine craftsmanship and rich materials. Such a design could include geometric forms of Cubism, colouring of Fauvism, and exotic elements of Indian culture, Egyptian art and ancient archaic shapes. Designers were inspired by “the high fashion vocabulary of the period”. It is about a new geometry, chevron and zigzags, broken lines and other details. Aesthetics of Art Deco was also based on the technical innovations and passion for new machines (ocean liners, automobiles). It is about a unique synthesis of design and engineering, or “aesthetics of the aerodynamic forms” – “Streamline”.

Ar Deco
Rembrandt Bugatti – “Panthère marchant” (1904)

The interior design combined fine craftsmanship and expensive materials. Art Deco put them into modernistic shapes and set free from a strict geometry. First of all, Art Deco was focused on fashion and expression of individuality: each person could choose something, which corresponded to the individual aesthetical preferences, exceptional taste and status. Conception of this style could be completed with Nancy Troy’s conclusion: “designers during this time seem to have consciously pursued a less “coordinated” aesthetic in which variety of color, texture, and shape mirror the disjointed character and hectic pace associated with the experience of modern urban life”.
The whole world was stunned with such a “design trick”. A short time later Art Deco became one of the most eccentric trends of the 20th century. This style was beyond the interior design only. Art Deco became an unprecedented cultural phenomenon, which goes away and comes back.

Art Deco
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, armchair

Art Deco and Fashion: “Fashion needs a tyrant”

This period changed a vision of fashion. “Three-dimensional” female image which seemed to be a “splendid sculpture” was turned into a “two-dimensional abstraction”. “Fashion needs a tyrant” – proclaimed Poiret. Volume dresses were taken off, and a woman became thin and she could express her own sensuality. It is about a subtle “mythical silhouette”. It is about a great individuality in style and in lifestyle.

Art Deco and Fashion
Sorbet, a skirt and tunic (1912). Fancy Dress Costume (1911). Evening Dress (1910). Opera Coat (1912). (via V&A; via The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The dresses by Paul Poiret were based on Greek Tunic or Japanese kimono – it is about the styles of clothing based on a rectangular shape. Poiret’s silk differed by simple patterns made of pink and silvery-white “radiating petal-like shapes” against a black background. These patterns were limited only by duplication of the simplified lozenge or circular shapes. Bold and even contradictory colours of his textile were inspired by intensity of expression of the Ballets Russes (“Shéhérazade”). Poiret brought into fashion the idea of “harem” pantaloons for women, created “lampshade tunics” and turbans “á l’orientale”. His sketches were based on the idea of more freedom of movement and clear relationship between clothes and body. This was a shocking phenomenon for that time.

Art Deco and Fashion

Moreover, Poiret started a new trend: clothes had to be combined with the interior design. One could see this in the fashion catalogues: the choice of dresses was combined with chairs, portieres, carpets and other details of the interior. Young artists “made fashion the art of the day instead of art being the fashion” (“Vogue”, 15.06.1914). A limited-edition portfolio “Les Robes de Paul Poiret” was illustrated by Paul Iribe. Interestingly, the “Pavilion de l’Élégance” was created for the Exhibition in Paris in 1925. This was a special place for female couturiers: Jeanne Paquin, Callot Soeurs, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel.

Art Deco and Architecture

The most recognizable and “Icon” buildings were created in this period. It is about an unusual architecture, which was created to show the prestige of their builders “though their height, their shape, their colour and their dramatic illumination at night”. It is about skyscrapers.

Art Deco and Architecture
“Chrysler Building” (fragment)

The Chrysler Building (1927-1930) by William Van Allen became the icon of Art Deco architecture. Its top “crowned” by a stainless steel spire (which becomes a stylized “sunburst” motif), and it is also decorated with steel gargoyles (the element of Gothic architecture). Chrysler Building is also unique, because it was one of the first the largest buildings which architecture differs by using of the metal extensively on the exterior.

Art Deco and Architecture
“Chrysler Building”

Its interior was “decorated with Red Moroccan marble walls, sienna-coloured floor and onyx, blue marble and steel in Art Deco compositions. Egyptian motifs of the elevator’s decoration were combined with a ceiling fresco by Edward Trumbull (“Transport and Human Endeavor”).

Art Deco and Architecture
“Chrysler Building” (interior)
Art Deco and Architecture
“Chrysler Building” (elevator)

The elevator was decorated with a unique marquetry technique. All these details show a unique synthesis between the interior and architecture, furniture design and innovative technologies, artisan tradition and unmistakable feeling of style.

Art Deco and Architecture
Palais de la Porte Doreé (1931)

Palais de la Porte Doreé (1931) by Albert Laprade, Léon Jaussly and Léon Bazin became one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in France. Its exterior was entirely covered with complicated sculptures or bas-reliefs by Alfred Auguste Janniot. In the interior of lobby one could see unique parquet with amazing geometric patterns, and the walls were decorated with the frescos by Lois Bauquet.

Art Deco and Architecture
Palais de la Porte Doreé (interior)
Art Deco and Architecture
Palais de la Porte Doreé (a fragment of the external sculptures or bas-relief)

Amazing designs of the movie palaces was one more significant trend of this period. It is about enormous theatres created for capture a huge audience. In the 1920th the design of movie palaces quite often combined the elements of Art Deco style with exotic themes. For example, the design of Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre in Hollywood (1922) was inspired by shapes of Egyptian pyramids, and its interior was decorated with enormous “sunburst”.

Art Deco and Architecture
Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre (1922)
Art Deco and Architecture
Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre (1950s)
Art Deco and Architecture
Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre

Radio City Music Hall (1932) was originally designed as a stage theatre, but it was transformed into a movie palace for more than 6 thousand persons. Its interior was designed by Donald Deskey, and there were used glass, aluminium, chromed and leather surfaces, and innovative bakelite. This was an amazing place for “a colorful escape from reality”.

Art Deco and Architecture
Radio City Music Hall (1932)

Bryant Park Hotel (1924, Raymond Hood and André Fouilhoux) is one more interesting skyscraper. Until 1998, it was named as American Radiator Building. The architects combined perfectly Gothic and modern styles, revealing a new image of architectural personality.

Art Deco and Architecture
Bryant Park Hotel (1924)

On the frontage we can see black brick (symbolizing coal) which expresses the idea of “solidity”. An elegant contrast reveals due to using of gold bricks for decorating other parts of the façade. Golden elements symbolize fire. The entry was decorated with black mirrors and marble.

Art Deco and Architecture
Bryant Park Hotel (details of the frontage)

Unique ocean liners became one more significant phenomenon of the 20th century. In addition to an exterior aesthetics design of their interiors had a special meaning. It was similar to the most luxurious residences. “Normandie” (1932) and “Queen Mary” (1935) became true legends.

Art Deco and Architecture
“SS Normandie”

These were the enormous “ships-skyscrapers” or “floating-boats”. They say, all French artists and decorators from Parisian Exhibition in 1925 have gathered together in one place for creating amazing interiors. A short time later an unexpected trend appeared: the interior design of the most luxurious world hotels imitated the design of “Normandie” interiors.

Art Deco and Architecture
SS Normandie (the Dinning Room)
Art Deco and Architecture
“SS Normandie” (The Grand Salon, “”History of Navigation” mural panels by Jean Dupas)

Quite often exterior shapes of the furniture could be similar to the design of automobiles. So, a new style first appeared in the period of Art Deco. It is about a style of the ocean liners, or “Streamline Moderne”, or “Streamline”, which was known in France as “Style Paqueboat” or “Ocean Liner Style”. Aesthetics of the aerodynamic forms, rounded angles and horizontal lines, buildings with the reinforced concrete constructions – were the main features of this trend.

First Art Deco interiors

New style didn’t deny the artisan tradition of French ébénistes. Quite often the design of Art Deco furniture could be based on the original re-interpretation of Art Nouveau. So, in Rateau’s works fluid “foliate forms were simplified into spirals and arabesques”, and subtle silhouettes of the stags were “so unlike the meandering curves of Art Nouveau”. Armand-Albert Rateau created exclusive bronze furniture pieces, which design was marked with an Antiquity and Egyptian images.

First Art Deco interiors
“Dressing Table” (1925) Armand-Albert Rateau (via The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Unique furniture of this period was made of the exceptional materials including ebony, tortoise shell and leather of the reptiles, ivory inlays, which were combined with lacquered, mirror, glass and chromed surfaces.
“Grand Salon” by Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann and “Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand became a quintessence of the first Art Deco interiors. Ruhlmann’s “Hôtel du Collectionneur” was designed as a separate structure, which included several interiors.

First Art Deco Interiiors
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Hôtel du Collectionneur” (Salle à manger)

The interior of “Grand Salon” was created in an oval-shaped room, which ceilings were over 6 meters high. The composition of enormous chandelier was similar to a fountain and consisted of concentric circles and innumerable “strips of glass beading”.

First Art Deco interiors
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Grand Salon” (“Hôtel du Collectionneur”)

Monumental black lacquered cabinet inlaid with a “hedgehog” in ivory (designed by painter Jean Lambert-Rucki in the work-shop of Jean Dunand) was placed opposite the fireplace. This cabinet was marked with stepped contours, glossy lacquered surfaces, engravings and massive volumes.

First Art Deco interiors
Cabinet designed by painter Jean Lambert-Rucki in the work-shop of Jean Dunand for Ruhlmann’s “Grand Salon” (“Hôtel du Collectionneur”)

A piano in Macassar ebony was a centerpiece of the room. Its “s-curve” lines echoed with the tapered legs, which were inlaid in ivory. Above the fireplace there was a large painting by Jean Dupas – “Les Perruches” (“The Songbirds” or “The Parakeets”). This painting showed the female images. Some of them were nude; some of them were “practically-clothed in heavy satin or silk brocaded fabrics”. On a background there was a landscape of “lush fruit, foliage and plumb birds”. This painting was not just a decorative element of the interior, it completed the whole atmosphere. For example, the coloring of this canvas was in harmony with the grained marble texture. This painting revealed an image of “abundance and sensual pleasure”, grandeur and luxury, which were an essence of “Grand Salon” interior.

First Art Deco interiors
Ruhlmann’s “Grand Salon”, Piano

The design of “Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand was more complicated and unusual. It is about a square room with beveled corners which emphasized an octagonal space. A composition of the tiered, stepped ceiling was similar to a pyramid or ziggurat. General tonality of this interior was intensified by lacquered wall panels in a deep black colour.

First Art Deco Interiors
“Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand

Ceiling was painted in silver with red accents in the corners. A square table and four square armchairs were placed in the center of the room. Clear geometry was emphasized due to black contours. The doorway was decorated with abstract geometry patterns. The interior of “Smoking Room” was marked with the “geometric severity” and “the aesthetic effect of formal elegance”.

First Art Deco Interiors
“Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand
“Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand (the wall-panels with abstract geometry patterns)

Its atmosphere differed by a special sense of rhythm based on a perfect balance between architecture and furniture design. A special feeling of straight lines had nothing in common with sensual shapes of nature, and the whole atmosphere was marked with “an air of psychological remoteness, not unlike the somewhat aloof…”

Art Deco Details

Jean Dunand was also famous in decorating of small vases named “dinanderie”. As a rule, these accessories were created of copper or brass and decorated in various techniques of patina. For example, “répousse” technique was used for creating the relief patterns based upon schematic floral forms. Decorative details of Dunand’s vases could be similar to the irregularity of Art Nouveau, but he experimented with the organic shapes which differed by more regular contours and even classical proportions.

Art Deco Details
Jean Dunand, Ovoid vase (1925)
Art Deco Details
We can see a pair of slick brass-and-lacquer Jean Dunand vases, originally exhibited in 1925 at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs (in Yves Saint Laurent’s grand salon)

Quit often these were stylized archaic patterns based on simple geometrical elements and their rhythmical duplication. In 1912 Dunand started to make very complicated lacquer applications for the wooden and metal surfaces. He was taught by a well-known Japanese craftsman Seizo Sugawara. For example, he started work with metal or wooden objects, creating unique artistic applications. This was a painstaking method of making various layered surfaces which differed by great subtlety. Interestingly, Jean Dunand designed a lot of exclusive objects in collaboration with Eugène Printz, who was well-known due to creation of distinctive and stylish furniture incorporated inlaid metal panels.

Art Deco details
Jean Dunand, Eugène Printz. Cabinet (image via Drouot)

For example, the result of Dunand and Printz collaboration is unique furniture or screens with Japanese and other Oriental or African themes, together with geometric and abstract elements, exotic landscapes, birds and animals. Quite often such objects differed by bold colours, and “broken eggshell inlay” was used “as a contrast to the highly polished surfaces”.

Art Deco Details
“Panther” (Jean Dunand, Paul Jouve, 1924). The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Furniture design by Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann quite often was “a free interpretation” of French Neoclassical or “Empire” styles. This was a “virtuoso craftsmanship” with using rare materials. For example, it is about veneer of exotic woods such as amboyna from Laos, Macassar ebony from Indonesia, ivory inlays, sharkskin. He showed how leather of skate or iguana could be used as precious inserts. He presented a unique combination of classical elements and constructivism, synthesis of glass and chromed surfaces. Ruhlmann showed how an amazing natural wooden texture could become a special compositional element.

Art Deco Details
“Chariot” sideboard (1919). Macassar Ebony, Mahogany, Ivory, Portor Marble. Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann.
Art Deco Details
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. Cabinet (Nickel Plated Steel, Glass, Onyx, Mirrors)

Erté who was also known as “elf of Art Deco” created exclusive bronzed sculptures. These objects were made in a unique manner of using various techniques of patina, filigree, gilding, amazing enamels and precious materials. Erté created new mixtures and colour shades for patinating – “Verdi green” and “Mauve”. His bronzed sculptures were also made in a technique of lost wax. As it is known, Erté’s favorite image was a woman – subtle and delicate. Whether she is Assyrian princess, a shy slave or rare bird…

Art Deco Details
Erté. “Opening Night”. “L’Amour du vin”. “Deco”. “Je l’aime”. “Ecstasy”.

Art Deco and the Ballets Russes

Any talk about Art Deco will be incomplete without mention of the Ballets Russes by Diaghilev. As Henri Ghéon said – “this was a delightful balance between the movements, sounds and shapes”. Since 1910 the Ballets Russes became a unique phenomenon, which start point was to find a certain absolute in searching of new forms. Ballet was turned into synthesis of the dance art, acting skills, painting and scenography. A dance became “alive theatrical scenery”.

The Ballets Russes
Vaclav Nijinsky in “Le dieau Bleau” (Paris, 1912)

The costumes and stage sets for the Ballets Russes were created by famous artists of this period – it is about Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Henri Matisse, Antoine Pevsner, Gabriel Chanel, Paul Poiret and others.

The Ballets Russes
Costume for the Chinese Conjuror from Parade, designed by Pablo Picasso, 1917. Victoria & Albert Museum, London (image via V&A)

An unexpected choreography was based on Nijinsky’s experiment with the dancing forms, and Myasin completed this performance with special “broken and splendid forms”. A note per se was set free from the idea of “mode” or “tonality”. So, these nuances allowed to realize the experiment with a rhythm.

The Ballets Russes
Nijinsky, “L’Après-midi d’u faune” (1912)

Nijinsky’s choreography, namely his “filthy” movements – were accepted ambiguously. He broke a well-known opinion about a solo male dance. It is about absolutely new sense of rhythm, or “eurhythmics”, which was similar to the theater of poses, but not to a classical ballet.

The Ballets Russes
So, “The Afternoon of a Faun” (“L’Après-midi d’u faune”, 1912) had a wrong faun: “We are shown a lecherous faun, whose movements are filthy and bestial in their eroticism, and whose gestures are as crude as they are indecent. That is all”. (Gaston Galmette, Le Figaro 30.05.1912). He said about “réalites animales” instead of a true ballet.
But Auguste Rodin noticed that “Nijinsky has never been so remarkable”. “No more jumps – nothing but half-conscious animal gestures and poses. He lies down, leans on his elbow, walks with bent knees, draws himself, advancing and retreating, sometimes slowly, sometimes with jerky angular movements. His eyes flicker, he stretches his arms… and as he turns away his head he continues to express his desire with a deliberate awkwardness that seems natural. Form and meaning are indissolubly wedded in his body…” (Le Figaro, 31.05.1912)

The Ballets Russes
Nijinsky, “L’Après-midi d’u faune” (1912)

So, this “un faune inconvenant” offered a gesture archaic, spontaneous, improvised and intense. As well primitive as a gesture of a true faun “avec la ferveur d’une volupte passionnée”… He was not a fiction, he was real.

Art Deco and the Ballets Russes
Nijinsky, “L’Après-midi d’u faune” (1912)

The decorations of the Balletts Russes also influenced fashion. It is about “Shéhérazade”. Paris was deep in authentic Eastern atmosphere – with its exotic dress, seminude bodies and amazing colours. So, wide trousers and turbans, bright orange, deep blue and various dark color shades – became a new fashion trend.

The Ballets Russes
Vera Fokina in “Shéhérazade” (1910)

The colouring of Diaghilev’s Ballets was created to reveal a special sense of rhythm, to reveal a soul of each colour – it could be wild, bestial, spontaneous and unpredictable, or primitive and luxurious at the same time.
The Ballets Russes best revealed a soul of Art Deco – as well archaic and even primitive, as exotic and wild at the same time.

Art Deco Atmosphere

Art Deco style was focused on eclecticism. So, these interiors were not considered as some statical compositions, but they seemed to be a “mass” of precious objects. This could be defined as “le pavillon d’un collectionneur” or “artist’s atelier”. Art Deco atmosphere personified an absolute hedonism, or pleasure and possibility of enjoying life here and now. Theatrical effects, scenic gesture and even grotesque forms had a special significance for Art Deco interiors. For example, chairs with excessively high backs became a “classics” of Art Deco.

Art Deco atmosphere
“Ellelux” Collection by Lanpas. (We can see a pair of chairs with very high backs)

This style is marked with a special expressivity and some irrational implication, which reveals in a unique combination of various fragments of reality – both in natural form and “paradoxical deformed”. Art Deco atmosphere is based on contrast and layering of rhythms, statical and dynamic states which replace each other constantly. Therefore a certain fragmentation is typical for this style. It is about a fragmentary perception of such an atmosphere and being in it. Besides, each Art Deco interior has its own emotional and psychological meaning, as it allows distancing from industrialization and being inspired with a special aesthetics which best expresses the individuality.

Art Deco Atmosphere
“Belle Epoque” Collection by Soher

The sources of Art Deco

Wild exotics or stylized natural images and shapes of the animals – this is typical for Art Deco. Animalistic elements personify a special sense of rhythm, plasticity and various states in material. For example, these could be a state of piece or rapid movement. That’s why quite often we can see the sculptures or paintings of wild animals in Art Deco interiors. These could be the images of panthers, jaguars, bison, and fallow deer, birds, stags and others.

The sources of Art Deco
Animals Collection by Ceramiche Trea

Animalism is also revealed in using of various kinds of leather or fur. For example, we can see a dinner table, cabinet or sideboard with leather inserts or more large leather panels. Or the upholstery of chair could be made with using of the tiger print.

The sources of Art Deco
Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. Banquette (Macassar Ebony, Silver Plated Sabots)

Stylistics and scenography of the Ballets Russes (namely the costumes and design of stage sets by Léon Bakst) – is one more distinctive feature of Art Deco style. Quite often it could be as an effect of a “gesture” of each interior object. Geometry of Art Deco consists of chaotical and even “broken” balance and rhythms. But at the same time any gesture of Art Deco is expressed in a unique composition with a special inner sense.

The sources of Art Deco
“Decò” by Smania. Rectangular decorative panel with wengè tinted wooden frame (Master Collection)

Jazz rhythm, an effect of the piano keys (of leitmotif of “black and white”) is also one of the main features of Art Deco atmosphere. Jazz is a unique synthesis of European and African cultures, and quite often such music seems to be improvised, as though it based on the irregular rhythms, some confusion, dissonance and cross-rhythmic structures. It is about a variety of unexpected rhythms, a special disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm. It is about some “dotted” rhythm, which creates a unique inner dynamics of Art Deco interiors. This can be revealed not only in felling of the inner atmosphere, but also in the visual elements.

The sources of Art Deco
“Art Deco” Collection by Vismara

So, we can also see a visualization of “piano keys” in using of rare kinds of wood with unique “striped” textures (rosewood, Macassar ebony, Zebrano), or this can be visualized in the alternation of black and white colours, or in combinations of black lacquered surfaces with contrast golden or silver elements. Contrast stripes or “piano keys” could be presented in the furniture design, or this detail takes a separate position in the interior decorations (these could be parquet or tile with such a pattern). Jazz rhythms are often intensified with innumerable contours, framings and dotted lines.

The sources of Art Deco
“Next Deco” Collection by Arte Veneziana. Cabinet in shiny varnished white ebony wood and black glass with silvered hand made engravings.

So, we can talk about a lot of frames and contours which are revealed practically everywhere, even in the design of a small casket. As if a surface of any object entirely consists of the contours, framings and contrast lines, which are organized in a certain rhythm. These elements can be intensified with stepped shapes. For example, this could be a stepped base of the table, sideboard or cabinet. The element of stepped shapes takes its origin from the form or “ziggurat”, or multistage buildings which were typical for the Sumer, Assyrian or Babylon architecture.

The sources of Art Deco
Femme Bras Levés Bar by Lalique (Clear crystal and Black Ebony)

Sunburst” (or radian rays of sunlight) is one more essential element of any Art Deco interior. As a rule, this theme is used in design of the mirrors (or also in the headboard compositions). Stripes or straight vertical or pointed lines – create a magnificent cascade of the rays at various angles, “blowing up” and stopping the dissonant and constantly changing jazz rhythms of the interior.

The sources of Art Deco
Antiqued and leaded mirror in Dèco style ascribed to Serge Roche – by Arte Veneziana.

Influence of the ancient cultures and primitive arts has a special significance for Art Deco. For example, these could be Egyptian, African, Aztec or Cretan-Mycenaean themes. Quite often we can see some authentic accessories in Art Deco interiors: it is about African masks, sculptures, paintings, ornament fabrics and other crafted objects.

The sources of Art Deco
ornaments of the body light from “Glass Eyes” Collection by Vismara

Geometry of Art Deco

At the same time Art Deco combines perfectly the elements of Expressionism, Surrealism and Postimpressionism with themes of the primitive arts, proportions of Empire style and the aesthetics of aerodynamic forms. This was not only a synthesis of arts, but a unique combination of the contradictory cultural phenomenon.
The coloring of Fauvism completes Art Deco atmosphere with a special “wild” expressiveness based on a purity and clearness of colour. “Faceted” forms of Cubism reveal in a special geometry of Art Deco. It is about geometrized relative forms, an effect of multiplied viewpoints, visualization of “broken” and dissociated objects which turn into more complicated paradigm.

Geometry of Art Deco
“Gerard” Coffee Table by Epoca

Circles and ellipses, zigzags, squares and rectangles – replace each other, creating a single “dotted” rhythm. Faceted, crystallized shapes and trapeziums are reproduced in the furniture “architectonics”. Trapezium-shaped base of the dinner table of console – is a “classics” of Art Deco. A special geometry of this style is also revealed in unique textures of Macassar ebony, rosewood or zebrano: in these natural patterns we can see zigzags, rhombuses or contrast lines.

Geometry of Art Deco
“Luna” Collection by Giorgio Collection (dinning)

A special intensity of colours and textures, purity of contrasts and lines, glossy stainless steel and chromed surfaces, a comparison of various chromatic planes – all these complicated intersections allow to reveal Art Deco geometry more clearly, setting a general tonality with jazz rhythms. And radiated rays of sunlight, warm golden shades and animalistic themes – balance and moderate this complicated composition. A silhouette of wild cat or grace movement of fallow deer, petal of exotic flower – each of these details reveals completely, opening new sides of Art Deco labyrinth.

Geometry of Art Deco
Detail of the cabinet in shuny varnished ebony wood and black glass with silvered engravings by Arte Veneziana.

Art Deco Furniture

Today a lot of famous furniture brands present exquisite collections or accessories made in Art Deco manner or with certain elements of this style. For example, it is about unique furniture by Lalique. Or these are exclusive “Belle Epoque” and “Panther” collections by Soher. “Privilege Collection” by Fimes differs by a special aesthetics of Art Deco. Giorgio Collection is one of the few brands which creates unique collections in Art Deco style and keeps the initial image of its aesthetics, adapting it to the present reality. It is about “Daydream”, “Absolute”, “Paradiso”, “Luna”, “Coliseum” and other collections which differ by unique materials (rare wood veneer) and authentic geometry and colours of Art Deco. We can also see exquisite furniture made in this style in collections by Arte Veneziana (for example, “Next Déco”). We can see even an exclusive reproduction of Ruhlmann’s bar with central engraving based on Alfred Janniot drawing.

Art Deco Furniture
Reproduction of Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann bar with central engraving based on Alfred Janniot painting – by Arte Venrziana.

Collections of the interior furniture by Vismara differ by unique compositional features and are also presented in Art Deco style. For example, it is about “Eyes“, “Art Deco” and “Piramid” collections which are marked with special decorative elements which are similar to simple ornaments, pyramids and elegant color contrasts. Epoca presented “Ebony” or “Art Deco” collections with a special geometry and exclusive materials.

Art Deco furniture
“Piramid” Collection by Vismara (fragment of the decorative piramids)
Art Deco Furniture
“Panther” Collection by Soher

Art Deco

Author: Marina Schultz

The sources used for this essay:

  • David Raizman. A History of Modern Design: Graphics and Productions Since the Industrial Revolution
  • Charlotte & Peter Fiell. Design of the 20th Century
  • John Pile. A history of interior design, 2nd edition
  • Софиева Н. Дизайн интерьера: стили, тенденции, материалы.
  • Erik Knowles. Art Deco
  • Koda, Harold, and Andrew Bolton. “Paul Poiret (1879–1944)” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (September 2008)
  • Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton, with contributions by Nancy J.Troy. Poiret (2007)
  • New York Architecture. Chrysler Building
  • Le Figaro, 30 May 1912 // Gallica BnF
  • Le Figaro, 31 May 1912 // Gallica BnF

The sources of photos:

  • The first photo: Erté, “Realy for the Ball” // Erté
  • Antiqued and leaded mirror in Dèco style ascribed to Serge Roche by Arte Veneziana // Arte Veneziana
  • “Luna” collection (living) by Giorgio Collection // Giorgio Collection
  • “Ellelux” Collection by Lanpas // Lanpas
  • “Belle Epoque” Collection by Soher // Soher
  • Animals Collection by Ceramiche Trea // Ceramiche Trea
  • “Decò” by Smania. Rectangular decorative panel with wengè tinted wooden frame (Master Collection) // Smania
  • “Art Deco” Collection by Vismara // Vismara
  • “Next Deco” Collection by Arte Veneziana. Cabinet in shiny varnished white ebony wood and black glass with silvered hand made engravings // Arte Veneziana
  • Femme Bras Levés Bar by Lalique (Clear crystal and Black Ebony) // Lalique
  • Ornaments of the body light from “Glass Eyes” Collection by Vismara // Vismara
  • “Gerard” Coffee Table by Epoca // LuxDeco
  • “Luna” collection by Giorgio Collection (dinning) // Giorgio Collection
  • Detail of the cabinet in shuny varnished ebony wood and black glass with silvered engravings by Arte Veneziana // Arte Veneziana
  • Reproduction of Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann bar with central engraving based on Alfred Janniot painting – by Arte Venrziana // Arte Venrziana
  • “Piramid” Collection by Vismara (fragment of the decorative piramids) // Vismara
  • “Panther” Collection by Soher // Soher
  • International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts: The Art Deco Exposition (Arthur Chandler)
  • Rembrandt Bugatti, “Panthère marchant” // Rembrandt Bugatti Sculpteur
  • Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann furniture and rare photos // Ruhlmann – About the master Art Deco furniture designer
  • Paul Poiret: Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Paul Poiret (1879–1944) // The Metropolitan Musem of Art
  • Paul Poiret: Introduction to 20th-Century Fashion // Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Paul Poiret: Business of Fashion Fashion History – Paul Poiret // Eco Fashion Talk
  • Paul Poiret: Paul Poiret (1879-1944) // The Red List
  • Armand-Albert Rateau, “Dressing Table” (1925): Dressing Table. Armand-Albert Reteau.Work of Art. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History // The Metropolitan Musem of Art
  • Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Hôtel du Collectionneur”, Salle à manger // L’histoire par l’image.
  • Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Hôtel du Collectionneur”, Piano // Maxime Old
  • Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Grand Salon” // Art Deco Style
  • Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, “Grand Salon”. Cabinet designed by painter Jean Lambert-Rucki // Ruhlmann – About the master Art Deco furniture designer
  • “Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand: Laquered smoking room, Ambassade Francaise, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925 //ARCHITECTURE.COM by RIBA
  • “Smoking Room” by Jean Dunand (the wall-panels with abstract geometry patterns): Unique and important pair of wall-panels, designed for the smoking room // MutualArt
  • Jean Dunand, Ovoid vase (1925) // Galerie Marcilhac
  • A pair of slick brass-and-lacquer Jean Dunand vases in Yves Saint Laurent’s grand salon: Revisiting Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris Apartment // Architectural Digest
  • Cabinet. Jean Dunand, Eugène Printz (image via Drouot ) // Drouot
  • “Panther” (Jean Dunand, Paul Jouve, 1924): Panther // The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Erté. Sculprutes // Erte. Sculpture
  • The Ballets Russes. Vaclav Nijinsky in “Le dieau Bleau” (Paris, 1912): Diaghilevs Russian Seasons //
  • Costume for the Chinese Conjuror from Parade, designed by Pablo Picasso (1917): Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. Victoria & Albert Museum, London // V&A
  • Nijinsky, “L’Après-midi d’u faune” (1912): The New York Public Library Digital Collections // NYPL Digital Collections
  • Vera Fokina in “Shéhérazade” (1910): Diaghilevs Russian Seasons //
  • NIJINSKI (1912), sculpture by Auguste Rodin // Musée Rodin
  • “Chrysler Building” (fragment): Chrysler Building, Detail of the stainless steel roof, New York City, USA // History of Architecture and Urbanism in New York City
  • “Chrysler Building” // Cogent
  • “Chrysler Building” (elevator) // 6sqft NYC real estate and architecture news
  • “Chrysler Building” (interior) // Jake Rajs
  • Palais de la Porte Doreé (1931) // Cyril Sancereau
  • Palais de la Porte Doreé (interior) // Association Artistique et Culturelle de Villemomble AACV
  • Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre (1922) // Historic Hollywood Photograph Collection
  • Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre (1950s) // SFO Museum
  • Grauman’s Egyptioan Theatre // Cinema Series, Franck Bohbot
  • Radio City Music Hall // The New Yourk Pass Blog
  • Bryant Park Hotel (1924) // Tablet
  • Bryant Park Hotel (details of the frontage) // Luxury Dream Hotels
  • “SS Normandie” // Arzamas
  • “Normandie” interiors (The Grand Salon and The Dinning Room) // The Magazine Antiques. Celebrating the ‘Decodence’ of the SS Normandie.