Deco Redux

Referencing Art Deco Style in Contemporary Space

By Nicole Barr for

Image courtesy of Hommés Studio, 2022

You’ve probably heard the term Art Deco, but what does it mean, really? Put simply, if you’ve ever seen New York’s Empire State building you’ve experienced this early 20th century style with all its bold geometric forms at its grandest.

Historically, the Art Deco movement originated in France in the late 1910s and was inspired by advances in modern technology as well as developments in preceding and concurrent artistic movements, including Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, de Stijl, Cubism, Constructivism, and Futurism.

Its popularity exploded, however, after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925. Following this, examples of Art Deco decor, textiles, fashion, art and architecture were found everywhere in western Europe and the United States, and it remained the dominant international style throughout the West until wartime austerity during World War II ended its decadent reign over the art world.

Today, however, this glamorous style is making a comeback as the centennial of the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes nears. Best of all, what has changed over the past century is that incorporating Deco’s eye-catching patterns, gleaming metal accents, exuberant geometric forms, and luxuriousness into a room or an entire home is far easier than ever.

Shapes and Patterns
When decorating in this style, feature repeating, angular patterns and shapes. Avoid softer romantic patterns, such as florals, which are reminiscent of Art Nouveau, and opt instead for zigzags, triangular forms, sunbursts, and chevrons. Look for curvy but streamlined statement furniture that has exaggerated yet simple curves.

Materials and Finishes
Art Deco is characterized by opulent materials which are slick and reflective for an elegant and luxurious feel. When decorating in this style, look to feature high-luster materials in your interior such as marble and granite, as well as metals in silver, gold, and brass. Wooden objects should be highly finished and glossy.

Striking and bold colors with a lot of contrasts characterize Art Deco. Color palettes of black, white, silver, and gold are typical for this style, as well as vibrant and deep jewel tones such as emerald greens, ruby reds, and cobalt blues. Deeper shades can be balanced or contrasted with neutrals like creams and beiges for a softer appearance and accessorized with metallic accents such as chrome, brass, and silver. Art Deco interiors often include mirrored surfaces, which work with metallic details to increase a room’s sense of light and space.

Statement Lighting
Art Deco lighting typically is highly ornamental with an unvaried repetition of elements to add detail. The common characteristics of these lighting fixtures are geometric shapes and symmetric forms. They are often bold and sculptural while also intricate and visually interesting. One classic example of such features is to install chevron-shaped wall sconces at regular intervals around an entire room.

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