Art Deco – A Marvelous Era

3 Dec

Since my blog about Where Would You Go?, letting my readers know my pick, The Oriental Express!  I have received several inquiries; asking when I was going to fulfill my promise on sharing a little more information about the Art Deco period <Sarah of Fortworth, TX; she sent me friendly e-mail reminders.. 15 times! LOL>! 

 Well, here it is…..

 According to the Art Deco Society of New York,  the term Art Deco, coined in 1966 initially referred to the French-style of decorative arts exhibited in Paris at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Since then, the term Art Deco has become a popular catch-all, encompassing the many and varied forms of this design which evolved from the second decade of the 20th century to the beginning of World War ll.

The Art Deco style encompasses Cassandre posters and Donald Desky furniture, bakelite radios and the Chrysler building, the fashions of Paul Poiret and the film sets of Cedric Gibbons.  So you know, the Art Deco Society of New York through its ambitious programming is dedicated to studying, preserving and celebrating this important hallmark of modern design through its mission statement, so if you are interested, please see their site.

Art Deco was an opulent style, and its lavishness is attributed to reaction to the forced austerity imposed by World War I. Its rich, festive character often looked modern contexts.  Such are the Golden Gate Bridge, interiors of cinema theaters (a prime example being the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California) and ocean liners such as the Île de France, Queen Mary, and Normandie.

It was employed extensively throughout the United States’ train stations in the 1930s, designed to show the modernity and efficiency of the train. Around the world, a number of amusement parks were constructed in inter-war art-deco architecture, of which surviving examples include Playland (New York) and Luna Park Sydney.

Art Deco made use of many distinctive styles, but one of the most significant of its features was its dependence upon a range of ornaments and motifs.

Art Deco slowly lost patronage in the West after reaching mass production, when it began to be derided as gaudy and presenting a false image of luxury.   A surge of interest in Art Deco came first in the 1960s and then again in the 1980s with the growing interest in graphic design, where its association with film noir and 1930s glamour led to its use in advertisements for jewelry and fashion and toiletries.

Now when you are talking about an era, all aspects affect what you are looking at, jewelry, cars, homes, buildings, travel etc.  I am going to touch on a few aspects, but if you want to learn more about the era, you can get some real good books, which I am going to list at the end of this post!

So,  I’ve  explained a little about what Art Deco is, let me show the various Art Deco Styles; which you may have not know it was contributed to:

There are examples of in the automobiles of that era and motorcycles, such as the Henderson produced 4 cylinder motorcycles from 1912 until 1931.  They were the largest and fastest motorcycles of their time, and appealed to sport riders and police departments.

Police favored them for traffic patrol because they were faster than anything on the roads. The company began during the golden age of motorcyclist, and ended during the Great Depression.  1994 was brought and owned by Excelisor-Hendeson Motorcycle, which is no longer in business.  Here is a cool motorcycle influenced with Art Deco style: 

New York City’s Chrysler Building,  one of the world’s most iconic Art Deco buildings. The Chrysler Building. Designed by architect William Van Alen and completed from 1928-30. Since it was designed for the Chrysler Corporation it is decorated with motifs resembling hub caps and hood ornaments displayed in the eagle.   Art Deco buildings can be found all through the U.S. and in my opinion, the Fair Park in Dallas, Texas displays the largest collection of Art Deco buildings, one of them is the Cotton Bowl.


I can say that I have noticed this vintage reproduction Art Deco poster in either someone’s home, salon or restaurant.  So, I was curious to find a bit more about it.   It’s called  La Belle Dormeuse, originally painted in 1931 -1932 by Tamara Lempika.  A Polish-born Art Deco artist, whose work is considered one of the main contributors to the Art Deco era. 

Although her work was considered risky, collectors of her work are Madonna, Jack Nicholson and Barbara Streisand.  Affordable prints are available, so if you are interested in Art Deco posters, feel free to look.  To know more about her work, go to, there have a few books.

Lastly, let’s talk about Art Deco’s furniture style. It’s rather bold, dramatic and often luxurious.  Do you remember the old movies where the master bedrooms were huge, the furniture massive but beautiful.  There you would find a full mirror with a vanity, dressers and rather large bed.  This is the era when chairs and chaises were introduced to the bedroom.   The wood used were often oak, maple and mahogany. 

If you are interested in learning more about this wonderful time period, a great book is Art Deco: 1910-1939 by Charlotte Benton , Tim Benton , Ghislaine Wood  and Oriana Baddeley.   I ‘ve reviewed the book at Barnes & Noble; with a cup of mocha! < has it too!>.

Hours went by, but I must say I enjoyed glossing through the books; which gave me just enough information for you to be interested a little!  Another book is  American Art Deco: Modernistic Architecture and Regionalism by Carla Breeze.

I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! 

Be well – Letia 🙂  and  Photo from Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day!,  set design courtesy of  Warner Bros.

You Tube video by ShowPix DVD Productions. 

One Response to “Art Deco – A Marvelous Era”


  1. The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin at Her Best! | Letia Mitchell LifeStyle & Design® - May 2, 2013

    […] Art Deco – A Marvelous Era ( […]

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