When thinking of Art Deco, my mind immediately goes to "The Great Gatsby." This movie, a personal favorite, not only captivates with its visual allure but also embodies the evocative essence of its time. Against the vibrant backdrop of the 1920s, famously known as "The Roaring Twenties," the film perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Art Deco. It's crucial to note that Art Deco itself emerged during this period. In this article, we'll delve into the world of Art Deco, explore its background, and understand the reasons behind its enduring status as a decorative style that never grows old.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris
The movie "The Great Gatsby" vividly captures the essence of Art Deco style.

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

What is Art Deco?

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Art Deco is a movement in the decorative arts and architecture that originated in the 1920s and developed into a major style in Western Europe and the United States during the 1930s. The term "Art Deco" is derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris, where the Art Deco style gained international recognition. After its debut in Paris, the Art Deco style drew from various sources, influencing disciplines ranging from visual and decorative arts to fashion, architecture, filmography, and jewelry design. Art Deco style represents modernism turned into fashion. Its products included both individually crafted luxury items and mass-produced wares, but in either case, the intention was to create a sleek and anti-traditional elegance that symbolizes wealth and sophistication.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

The iconic Empire State Building in New York City stands as a renowned exemplar of Art Deco architecture. In this image, tourists at Bryant Park gaze through a telescope, capturing the majestic Empire State Building in the bustling cityscape, circa the 1930s.
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The Art Deco movement emerged in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, and its style, in many ways, was a response to the machine age. Differing from the earlier curvilinear styles of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movements, Art Deco embraced a more streamlined approach, characterized by straight lines, bold shapes, and metallic surfaces that mirrored the industrial and modernist aesthetics of the time. Art Deco was shaped by a range of influences, including Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus, Cubism, and the Ballets Russes directed by Serge Diaghilev. Decorative ideas were drawn from American Indian, Egyptian, and early classical sources, as well as from nature. Characteristic motifs included nude female figures, animals, foliage, and sun rays, all presented in conventionalized forms.

In today's minimalist trend, it is hard to imagine that during the Art Deco period, the movement had a pervasive influence on almost everything. Even everyday objects, such as vacuum cleaners and radios, were not immune to the impact made by Art Deco, incorporating telltale characteristics of this iconic style.
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The Defining Characteristics of Art Deco

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The distinctive features of Art Deco style are a manifestation of admiration for the modernity of machinery and the inherent design qualities found in machine-made objects. These qualities include relative simplicity, planarity, symmetry, and the unvaried repetition of elements. Let's delve into a few key characteristics that define the Art Deco style.
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1. Geometric Shapes

When examining an Art Deco pattern, it becomes evident that geometric shapes play a crucial role in defining the distinctive aesthetics of Art Deco. Unlike the organic and flowing forms of preceding design movements, Art Deco prominently features bold and precisely defined geometric shapes. This inclination is influenced by the art movement known as Cubism, which emerged in France between 1907 and 1912, significantly impacting the development of Art Deco. Consequently, Art Deco style frequently incorporates repeating geometric shapes such as squares, triangles, chevrons, and zig-zags into its artistic expression.
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2. Luxurious Materials

The 1920s bestowed a sense of luxury, partly owing to the abundance of delicate decorations and the use of premium materials. The post-World War I era witnessed a flourishing economy and a shifting of social norms, reflecting a cultural desire for novel and extravagant experiences. Consequently, it is not uncommon to encounter precious materials in Art Deco objects, such as gold or ivory. Additionally, expensive techniques like lacquer, crystal, and marquetry were frequently employed. The Art Deco patterns, at times intricate, showcased skillful craftsmanship. A prime example of this is Louis Süe, a French painter, architect, and decorator.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris
The "Victoire" mascot, designed by René Lalique, a renowned French glass designer and jeweler, was created during the Art Deco period in the 1920s.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
3. Symmetry

Most Art Deco styles exhibit vertical symmetry. This preference for vertical symmetry aligns with Art Deco's fondness for geometric shapes, such as squares, rectangles, and circles, which are frequently arranged in symmetrical compositions. In Art Deco architecture, structures often showcase a pronounced sense of symmetry. Facades are meticulously crafted with balanced placements of windows, doors, and decorative elements on either side of a central axis. The strong emphasis on symmetry in Art Deco design is rooted in a desire for order, sophistication, and a reflection of modernity.
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4. Value Craftsmanship

In 1875, furniture designers, textile artisans, jewelers, glassworkers, and other craftsmen were officially granted the status of artists by the French government. Clearly, craftsmanship is a highly valued aspect of Art Deco style. With the ascent of industrialization, it became possible to mass-produce beautifully designed and well-crafted objects. 
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris
Norman Bel Geddes, Cocktail Set, 1937
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Art Deco was associated with both luxury and modernity; it combined very expensive materials and exquisite craftsmanship put into modernistic forms. The Art Deco style featured elaborate metalwork in furniture, lighting fixtures, and architectural elements. Craftsmen employed techniques like forging, casting, and enameling to create intricate designs in materials like chrome, bronze, and brass. Another example of Art Deco's value for craftsmanship is reflected in jewelry; filigree work and meticulous settings were characteristic of this era, and these techniques require exquisite craftsmanship.
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5. Various Cultural Inspirations

Although Art Deco is often associated with Western influences and the modernity of the early 20th century, it actually drew inspiration from various ancient and non-Western artistic traditions. This infusion of various cultural elements added richness to the Art Deco style. One of the most prominent examples of ancient non-Western influences on Art Deco style is Egypt. We can find Egyptian motifs, including hieroglyphs, lotus flowers, and sphinxes, in Art Deco design, especially in jewelry, furniture, and architectural details. Moreover, we also find elements of Asian art and design in Art Deco style. Intricate lacquerwork, bamboo motifs, and stylized depictions of nature influenced furniture, screens, and accessories.
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Diverse Expressions in Art Deco Style

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
From architecture to fashion, and from visual arts to everyday objects, the Art Deco style is not limited to a single design field. Derived from industrialization and technological progress, the Art Deco style reflects an appreciation for the modernity of machines and the inherent design qualities of machine-made objects. This exploration of Art Deco principles was especially notable in design, furniture, architecture, and building construction. This has led Art Deco to become a dynamic and influential design movement that has manifested itself in various forms across varied creative fields. Below, let's explore how Art Deco has showcased its charm in different aspects.
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Art Deco Architecture 


Art Deco architecture rose to popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. The influence of the style extended from Europe to the United States and Britain, where it gained favor for constructing buildings associated with the modern era. Art Deco architecture was often sleek and made use of geometric forms and rich material palettes. Despite the streamlined nature of the style, it is important to note that Art Deco avoids minimalism and, instead, embraces a rich decorative aesthetic. Additionally, Art Deco architecture often includes intricate detailing, such as bas-reliefs, stylized motifs, and decorative panels.

Although Art Deco originated in Europe, it is essential to recognize the pivotal role played by American skyscrapers in defining and showcasing the Art Deco style at its pinnacle. Art Deco architecture in America took on diverse forms, influenced by local culture, laws, and tastes. One notable example is the Chrysler Building, completed in 1930 and designed by architect William Van Alen. It represents one of the most famous examples of the Art Deco architectural style. Its spire is adorned with panels of stainless steel, characterized by geometric patterns, setbacks, and stylized ornamentation—features commonly associated with Art Deco architecture.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

The photograph captures a view of the crown and spire of the Chrysler Building. Credit: Frederic Lewis | Getty Images.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
In the late 1930s, a new evolution of Art Deco architecture emerged, known as Streamline Moderne or Streamline. This architectural style represented a further refinement and adaptation of the Art Deco principles, placing a strong emphasis on smooth, aerodynamic lines and a sense of movement. A notable example of this style is The Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Completed in 1939, the terminal stands as a prominent showcase of Art Deco architecture, renowned for its distinctive design that encapsulates the characteristic elements of the Art Deco style. The terminal features a sleek and streamlined exterior, marked by geometric patterns and decorative elements typical of the Art Deco era. Its facade exhibits both horizontal and vertical lines adorned with ornamental reliefs and motifs, capturing the essence of the period.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

The Marine Air Terminal stands as an Art Deco style masterpiece, completed in 1939.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
In the late 1930s, a new evolution of Art Deco architecture emerged, known as Streamline Moderne or Streamline. This architectural style represented a further refinement and adaptation of the Art Deco principles, placing a strong emphasis on smooth, aerodynamic lines and a sense of movement. A notable example of this style is The Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Completed in 1939, the terminal stands as a prominent showcase of Art Deco architecture, renowned for its distinctive design that encapsulates the characteristic elements of the Art Deco style. The terminal features a sleek and streamlined exterior, marked by geometric patterns and decorative elements typical of the Art Deco era. Its facade exhibits both horizontal and vertical lines adorned with ornamental reliefs and motifs, capturing the essence of the period.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco Graphic Design


The Art Deco style made its early appearance in the graphic arts just before World War I. In Paris, it emerged in the posters and costume designs of Léon Bakst for the Ballets Russes and in the catalogs of fashion designers like Paul Poiret. The transition from the Industrial Age in the early 1900s marked a period of change, with Art Deco graphic design reflecting the influence of Italian Futurism, emphasizing speed, progress, and machines. This style represents a captivating chapter in the history of visual arts, showcasing a fusion of elegance and modernity characterized by geometric precision and opulent details. Art Deco graphic design had a significant impact on prints and posters of the time, with artists and illustrators such as Georges Barbier, Erté, Cassandre, and Paul Colin playing pivotal roles in popularizing the Art Deco movement.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

"Lady with Panther" by George Barbier for Cartier, 1914
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"Lady with Panther" is a notable work by the French artist George Barbier, created as a display card for Cartier's new jewelry collection. Like many of Barbier's pieces, this artwork exemplifies the elegance and sophistication characteristic of the Art Deco style. In this particular piece, one can expect to see Barbier's signature style, which often includes glamorous figures, intricate costumes, and a sense of luxury. The artwork depicts a lady in a long white gown and ropes of pearls, with a black panther reclining at her feet. It is reputedly modeled on Barbier’s friend Jeanne Toussaint. The whole composition evokes a sense of exoticism and boldness, both of which were embraced in the Art Deco era.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Romain de Tirtoff (Erté), Angel harpist for Blues, 1926
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Another significant Art Deco designer who must be mentioned is Romain de Tirtoff, known by the pseudonym Erté. He was a Russian-born French artist and designer, active in the 20th century across various fields, including fashion, jewelry, graphic arts, costume and set design for film, theatre, and opera, as well as interior decor. According to his personal calculations, he created more than 17,000 works. Due to his highly publicized success, Erté would later be referred to as the father of the "Art Deco" movement.
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Art Deco Fashion Design

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
As industrialization, commercialization, and mass production took center stage, Art Deco trends extended into the world of fashion. Textile design gained notable prominence during this period, with the fashion industry emerging as the second-largest export industry, playing a pivotal role in the economic recovery following World War I. A key figure in this transformative era was Paul Poiret, who astutely recognized the theatrical allure of fashion as a powerful selling technique as early as 1911. Poiret's designs embraced a liberated feminine figure, introducing harem trousers, lampshade tunics, and hobble skirts—features that would become synonymous with Art Deco Fashion.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Paul Poiret, a prominent French fashion designer of the early 20th century.
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While the features of Art Deco fashion may not strike us as particularly groundbreaking or innovative today, during its heyday, these design elements represented a significant breakthrough, attracting both admiration and criticism. For instance, Georges Goursat, a renowned French caricaturist of the Belle Époque, was a vocal critic. His satirical take targeted the polemics surrounding Art Deco fashion, especially the style popularized by Paul Poiret. Goursat scorned the exotic and extravagant fashions characterized by bold designs. In contrast, he championed a vision of simplicity—favoring slender forms, plain fabrics, and subtle colors. This aesthetic, known as the garçonne, flapper, or the "New Woman" of the Art Deco era, emerged as a response to the flamboyant trends that garnered both praise and disapproval.
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Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Louise Brooks, the iconic American silent film actress and dancer, was not only celebrated for her acting talent but also emerged as a symbol of the Roaring Twenties.
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Art Deco fashion witnessed the emergence of the slender and androgynous figure, a direct response to the evolving role of women in society, notably marked by the granting of the right to vote in the United States in 1919. The "New Woman" embraced a taste for fashionable and more form-revealing clothing, adopting a distinctive silhouette featuring an elongated, boyish figure adorned with tubular garments that showcased legs. Short haircuts, often covered by a stylish cloche hat, and the iconic long, dangling pearl necklace around the neck became symbolic of this era. During the Art Deco period, influential figures like Jeanne Lanvin and Gabrielle Coco Chanel rose to prominence, and to this day, they continue to be celebrated with recognition and admiration.
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Art Deco Jewelry Design

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Associating Art Deco with jewelry is natural, given that both epitomize luxury. Departing from the world of Art Nouveau, which favored a realistic depiction of flowering ornaments, Art Deco took the stage in the 1910s. The Art Deco jewelry period is widely regarded as one of the most crucial phases in the history of jewelry design. The rapidly changing fashions in clothing during this time brought forth new styles of jewelry. The flapper style of the 1920s, characterized by short dresses and bobbed hair, exerted a significant influence on jewelry design. In the Art Deco era, jewelry pieces such as long necklaces, sautoirs, and pendant earrings were meticulously crafted to complement and enhance the fashionable attire of the time. This style not only reflected the liberated spirit of the Roaring Twenties but also contributed to the dynamic and modern aesthetics of Art Deco jewelry.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Catalogues Van Cleef & Arpels, 1922
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During the Art Deco era, the esteemed jewelry houses of Paris, including Cartier, Chaumet, Georges Fouquet, Mauboussin, and Van Cleef & Arpels, enthusiastically embraced the new fashion in crafting jewelry and objects. Evolving cultural norms saw women smoking in public, inspiring designers to create highly ornate cigarette cases and ivory cigarette holders. Chaumet, for instance, produced intricately geometric cigarette boxes, cigarette lighters, pillboxes, and notebooks. These exquisite pieces were crafted from hard stones and adorned with materials like jade, lapis lazuli, diamonds, and sapphires.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Lacquer and silver cigarette case, Raymond Templier, circa 1930
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
While many Art Deco jewelers were involved in crafting items like lacquered silver boxes, smoking accessories, or beauty cases, Raymond Templier, a Parisian jeweler, distinguished himself by creating pieces of exceptional quality. According to the V&A, Templier was part of a small group of innovative Art Deco designers producing work in a minimal, geometric style inspired by Cubism and the imagery of industrial production. Today, Raymond Templier's creations are highly sought after by collectors and are considered iconic representations of Art Deco jewelry.
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Art Deco Interior Design

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Characterized by distinctive features such as geometric patterns, bold jewel tones, and luxurious material palettes, Art Deco interior design exudes opulence and sophistication. Common color combinations include classic black and white, as well as bold shades like royal blue, emerald green, and deep red. These interiors are renowned for showcasing intricate details and decorative elements, contributing to the overall glamour of the Art Deco style. Notably, during the Art Deco era, influential interior designers played a pivotal role in shaping the movement. Figures like Eileen Gray, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Paul Follot, and Jean-Michel Frank left a lasting impact with their unique contributions to Art Deco design.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Ruhlmann's Grand Salon exhibit, showcased at the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris) 

Art Deco Furniture Design

(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
Compared to other movements, Art Deco furniture stands out for its rich characteristics and materials. It plays a significant role in expressing the Art Deco style, reflecting the era's embrace of both modernity and luxury. During this period, furniture design boldly incorporated vibrant colors, harmoniously blending them with exotic and expensive materials, contributing to the unique aesthetics of Art Deco. Additionally, a key feature inherent in Art Deco furniture is its emphasis on symmetry. Most Art Deco styles showcase vertical symmetry, arranging elements like squares, rectangles, and circles in a balanced and ordered manner. This strong focus on symmetry reflects a shared desire for sophistication and order within the Art Deco style.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Jean Dunand (1877-1942), Panel from the mural ‘La Conquete du cheval’, c. 1934.
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Jean Dunand is widely acknowledged as one of the preeminent artists and designers of the Art Deco era. His creations adorned the homes of top aesthetes during his time, and today, his vases, screens, and other designs continue to be cherished fixtures in esteemed collections. The year 1925 is notable due to the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts that took place in Paris, holding particular significance for both Art Deco and Dunand. During this event, Dunand showcased his design prowess by creating a smoking room adorned entirely with lacquered panels.

Another example that garnered international attention at the Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts is Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. Hailed as perhaps the most renowned French designer and cabinetmaker of his era, Ruhlmann stands as one of the foremost figures in the Art Deco movement. His furniture, characterized by aesthetic refinement, the use of sumptuous and exotic materials, and extraordinarily fine craftsmanship, became an emblem of the luxury and modernity synonymous with Art Deco. Despite a relatively brief career, Ruhlmann's influence on the Art Deco movement endures. His designs beautifully showcase the fusion of modernist principles with the traditional craftsmanship of French decorative arts.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)

Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris

Corner Cabinet Designed by Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)
This corner cabinet, richly veneered and meticulously crafted, stands as a quintessential representation of the Art Deco era. Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann skillfully utilized ebony and ivory to portray a large urn, from which a profusion of stylized flowers and leaves cascades. Overflowing the limits of the container, this intricate design forms a striking black-and-white oval, creating a captivating contrast with the warm tones of the amboyna wood.
(Art Deco: A Complete Guide to Roaring Twenties Decorative Style - dans le gris)



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Dans Le Gris is a brand that started with everyday jewelry; each handmade piece is designed and crafted in Taiwan. We deeply value every detail, dedicating ourselves to creating enduring pieces through collaboration with experienced craftsmen.
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November 28, 2023
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