Art Deco: The Era of Glamorous Modernism
Symbolizing a time of great change worldwide, Art Deco is often synonymous with bold, geometric architecture and luxurious, extravagant graphics. Spanning from the beginning of World War I to the beginning of World War II, the style affected design, both commercial and independent, on a massive scale and continues to be seen in fashion, jewelry, and furniture today. Ultimately, the Art Deco style is a pastiche of many styles, all coming together in a desire for modernism. There were many influences, from the geometric forms of Cubism, bright colors of Fauvism, the craftsmanship of Louis XVI, and the exotic influences of Asian and Egyptian art.
Named after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) held in Paris in 1925, the movement grew in prominence and connection with the rise of decorative arts. These arts and artists flourished while major producers of luxury goods throughout Europe began designing modern products. This modernizing of goods made way for the Art Deco movement to expand beyond the high-end to mass produced goods as well. As it grew, the style combined exquisite craftsmanship and expensive, luxurious materials with modernistic forms. It was a design style, but it was also a life style.
Though Art Deco art was in high demand, the American skyscrapers marked the high-point of Art Deco architecture. As the tallest and most recognizable buildings in the world, these pinnacles of design radically changed the skyline of major cities. Most dramatically, the Chrysler building in New York City, completed in 1930, used the newest building methods to create what was termed a “Cathedral to Commerce.” The Chrysler building was soon followed by other well-known structures such as the Empire State building and Rockefeller Center.
Chrysler Building Exterior, James Maher Photography
As one of the first major international style movements, Art Deco changed the face of many major cities, only ending with World War II and the demand for strictly functional, unadorned modernism. Art Deco furniture used only the best materials, such as exotic woods, ivory, and mother of pearl. Each piece was designed for beauty and functionality, meeting the demands of a modern world. The Art Deco patterns and geometric designs were present in the furniture as well. At Jean-Marc Fray, our Art Deco pieces have the fantastic high-quality and decorative elements of the period. From engraved mirrors, stylized dining tables, and buffets with sunburst marquetry, these pieces are striking in their beauty and modern elegance.
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