Bold, beautiful and stylish; Art Deco might have only thrived for a relatively short time in the 1920s, but there are so many reasons why it continues to be a widespread inspiration for interiors today.
Influencing everything from architecture and artwork to transportation and homeware design, Art Deco combines a modernist aesthetic with industrial innovation to create decadent luxury. Mixing inspiration from all over the world, here are our tips for bringing its cosmopolitan appeal into your home.
Choose a statement piece
As with many other design movements, the secret to successfully creating an Art Deco space is to use one or two signature pieces and then complement them with subtle details around the room.
For example, hanging a statement pendant lamp in the centre of the room, with modernist, art deco sconces dotted around the walls.
These should ideally match, or at least echo the shape or colour of the main piece.
Embrace working with wood
The Art Deco style was very fond of wood, and furniture, flooring and wall panels would typically feature several types of wood covered with lashings of lacquer.
Walnut was a staple in the Art Deco era, but those who could afford to would also splash out on more exotic materials like ebony, zebrawood and teak.
Although most furniture embraced clean lines and sharp details, wooden pieces would often feature extremely intricate inlaid patterns and show off the distinctive grain and burl of the natural material.
Avoid the feminine touch
Up until around 1910, Art Nouveau was all the rage. The movement was inspired by natural forms and heavily featured detailed floral motifs, asymmetrical designs and flowing lines.
Art Deco rebelled against this and focused on crisp geometric shapes and solid colours. While nude female silhouettes were often used, the imagery should be ‘striking’, not ‘pretty’.
If you’re not completely enamoured with the sharp corners of Art Deco, take a little cue from the Streamline Moderne movement, which emerged slightly afterwards.
It placed more emphasis on curved lines without compromising the functionality and machine-age inspiration of Art Deco.
Reminiscent of luxurious 1940s-era transportation, look for porthole-like mirrors and windows and furniture with classy, aerodynamic curves.
If in doubt, use chrome
We often associate Art Deco with muted golds, which was indeed a popular finish and can pull a room together nicely.
Don’t forget about chrome though, which was brand new at the time and was commonly found in light fittings, handles and furniture details.
The overall look of an Art Deco room should be glossy and lustrous, which well-maintained chrome can harness nicely.
Focus on one pattern
Make your decision-making process much easier by limiting yourself to just one geometric pattern throughout.
Overlapping fan-shapes, chevrons, zigzags and rectilinear patterns were all prevalent in original Art Deco design, but you can stick to one repeating motif to prevent your space looking cluttered.
You should then be able to find fabrics, wallpaper, ornaments – and yes, light fittings – that reflect this choice.
Don’t go overboard though, as the style is in the simplicity. You can usually find matching light fixtures for hanging lamps
Keep the palette sophisticated
Embrace bold contrasts when picking paint pots and fabric swatches for your Art Deco space.
Rich tones like navy and emerald look fantastic against bright metallics, while warm creams and beiges look elegant when mixed with the polished panelled flooring that was so popular at the time.
No frills, please
Having looked at the must-have design features to include, here is a quick list of design elements to avoid if you want to pull off an authentic Art Deco room:
- No delicate fabrics. Leave the lace, voiles and tulle in the last century
- The patterns on fabrics should be linear or non-existent. Florals, plaid and paisley are not welcome in an Art Deco design.
- Raw, unfinished materials. Wood, glass, metal and ceramics should all be smooth and polished. It’s about celebrating the mechanical era, where ‘rustic’ design doesn’t get a look in.
- Teeny tiny flourishes: go big, or go home. Windows, flooring, furniture and artwork should all be bolder than it is intricate.
Finally, choose a couple of decorative accessories to really bring the room to life. A retro record player with an antique horn (or even a gramophone) will make a fantastic conversation piece, as would an oversized sunburst mirror.
Art Deco interiors often showed off exotic animal hide like shark or zebra, but you can easily pick up a convincing faux-fur if you want to add a little extra luxury to your room. Finally, complete the scene with a bottle of bubbly and some elegant Champagne saucers to celebrate!