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Art Deco in 21st Century design

by Sinead Kelly

Born back in the glamorous era of 1908 to 1935, Art Deco was a popular design movement that holds strong today. Anyone who watches Flog It or Cash in the Attic during the afternoon on UK Style will be familiar with Art Deco finds. Basically, anyone who uncovers an Art Deco item of furniture or pottery/jewellery has hit the jackpot big time.

Art Deco in 21st Century design

"Movie stars synonomous with the Art Deco movement were Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich."

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Collectors of genuine Art Deco pieces are prepared to bid and bid to the bitter end to secure their cherished Eileen Gray chair or Clarisse Cliff vase.

Art Deco began in Europe, particularly Paris, in the early years of the 20th century and remained a powerful design movement until the outbreak of World War Two. Influences on the Deco movement were

  • Art Nouveau - Deco kept the nature motifs but discarded pastel colours for louder reds, black and chrome.
  • Cubism - painters such as Picasso and their experiments with angles, geometry and space
  • 1920's Hollywood - the glamorous world of the big screen filtered through with the use of shiney fabrics, cocktail cabinets and smoking paraphemalia.

Historical monuments during this design period that help us shape an image of what Deco was all about are:

  • Titanic, 1912
  • Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered, 1922
  • The Empire State Building completed, 1931.
Art Deco in 21st Century design Art Deco in 21st Century design Art Deco in 21st Century design

Movie stars synonomous with the Art Deco movement were Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. With these glam images in your mind it is easy to imagine how one could get caught up in recreating the Art Deco look. Here are some tips on how to do it yourself Art Deco style:

Floors - plain, polished parquet wooden floors or black and white chequered vinyl floor tiles.

Fireplaces - rectangular and bold, tiled surrounds and natural images such as butterflies, peacocks etc in beige or pink!

Lighting - lights featuring female figures holding the ball of the lamp are very typical and many copies are out there. Chrome and glass are also a way to achieving the look.

Furniture - invest in single pieces rather than suites; drinks cabinets, Empire State Building geomeric patterns on the moulding of furniture pieces.

Mirrors and mirrored tiles are also very Deco as is artwork featuring cars, cruiseliners and skyscrapers.

Colours - Silver, black and chrome: pink, green and beige: oyster and eau de nil, red and yellow and orange. Prints depecting nature in patterened fabrics is very appropriate to Deco.

Any Clarisse Cliff chinaware is highly collectable, as is Eileen Gray chairs, Rene Lalique glass and jewellery and Raymond Templier jewellery. If you are lucky enough to own any of the above you may well consider auctioning your pieces as they are fetching super prices at the moment.

A fantastic example of Art Deco taken into a new setting is the wonderful restaurant Bijou, Highfield Rd, Rathmines. Having recently refurbished and expanded their buiding, the décor is well worth seeing. Artwork surrounded by mirrored frames, polished parquet flooring and geometric shapes all abound with stunning style. The Art Deco theme is carried through to upstair's more formal dining room where striking Deco wallpaper ingeniously hangs as a full wall panel facing you. Lights dangle decadently and look as if they are dripping stylishly from the ceiling! Function and form flow hand in hand with magnificent design and the result is a strickingly stylish hip and trendy eaterie that will inspire you to embrace and enjoy Art Deco style, whilst enjoying the fabulous food on offer too!