The design style known as Art Deco emerged in Paris in the 1910’s and in the US in the 1920’s. It was defined by luxury, glamor, exoticism and the machine age. Until it got its name in the 1960’s from the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, it was known as Moderne (French for Modern). There was considerable cross over since Bauhaus also emerged in Europe around the same time and designers like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Eileen Gray seemed to straddle both styles.
Art Deco furniture is the epitome of sexy! Glamorous mirrors, glossy and exotic wood, lush leathers, jewel tones and embellishments all define this style.
Mirrored furniture – still very popular today was all the rage. Coffee tables, dressing and vanity tables, consoles and all types of furniture was being manufactured from mirrors. Examples of this look are the Beveled Mirrored Desk, Farrah Mirrored Nighstand, Katie Mirrored Dresser, ES2 Cocktail Table, Glam Leaning Mirror and Glam Standing Mirror.
Exotic and rare woods were used on everything from dining rooms to bedroom sets to small accent pieces. Violet wood, Ambonia, ebony, and mahogany were the most commonly used. Rich burls and combinations of woods added to the glamour.
Lacquer became very popular and was used to give the wood pieces a rich and sleek look. This Asian technique was quickly embraced and even the less expensive woods like maple, oak and ash were treated to several coats of lacquer – as an example: the Academia Dining Table.
In keeping with the use of wood sofas and armchairs very often had wood inlay along the base and up the arms and around the back of the sofa – the more the better it seemed.
As well as the age of Art Deco the 1920’s were known as the Machine Age – with the rise of sleek and sophisticated machinery and products resulting from this boom it was only natural for furniture to also have a futuristic-machine aesthetic. This was achieved by using metal accents and finishes – chrome was very important and used with great frequency.
Marquetry was another popular design style. Defined as “the craft of covering a structural carcass with pieces of veneer to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures” marquetry in zigzags, chevrons and sunbursts were most common.
Lastly in keeping with the theme of sumptuous luxury buttery rich and soft leathers were used on armchairs, sofas, and ottomans. Typical colors were black, brown and tan but due to the optimism, prosperity and happiness of the roaring 20’s leathers were also dyed cheerful reds and orange colors. The Design Classic Chair is an example for the use of soft leather.
Thinking of buying a piece or two of genuine authentic Art Deco pieces? In 2009 the Eileen Gray dragons chair sold for $28 million! Luckily copies and reproductions abound.