New York, New York and Art Deco Interior Design
Unfortunately, I am not writing a blog on how I am about to travel to New York!
I have always loved the thought of going to New York and it is definitely on my bucket list. I did sign up for a New York Marathon package a few years ago but an injury put paid to that idea.
Why New York?
The Chrysler Building in New York has always fascinated me. For some reason it really captures my imagination and inspires me. To me it really encapsulates the Art Deco period of architecture and design. I really love Art Deco style, it is glamorous and stylish and can translate well into today’s interiors.
The Chrysler Building was completed in May 1930 and for 11 months was the tallest building in the world. Although it didn’t hold this title for long, it is widely thought to be the most beautiful building in New York.
What is Art Deco?
The Art Deco style began in Europe, particularly in Paris as early as 1908, but really became prominent between the two world wars.
Two important factors contributed to the Art Deco style; by the 1930’s mass production technology meant that costs were reduced and the new style was more accessible to more people.
Secondly, travel was becoming more popular and a realistic opportunity. African safaris were all the rage and animal skins, ivory, mother of pearl and tortoiseshell began to be used in homes.
In 1922 Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered and piqued the imagination of many, Egyptian pyramids and sphinxes adorned everything during this period and is very much a key characteristic of the Art Deco style.
Other key characteristics of Art Deco are:
- Geometric and angular shapes, including stair-stepped profiles.
- Chrome, glass, shiny objects, mirrors and mirrored tiles.
- Stylised images of aeroplanes, skyscrapers, cars and cruise liners.
- Theatrical contrasts – highly polished wood and glossy black lacquer mixed with satin and furs. Think early Hollywood glamour.
- Nature motifs were a strong feature, in bold materials and colour.
- Other signature shapes include star bursts, lightening bolts and chevrons.
Key colour themes during this period were:
- Black and white, with an accent colour.
- The use of strong bold colour, reflected the booming economy and a new confidence. Using vivid pops of colour like yellow, green, peacock blue, purple and red became increasingly popular.
- The luxurious, glamorous essence of Art Deco was achieved with the use of metallic colours and finishes. Silver, copper, gold and metallic blue were widely used.
- In contrast to the metallic and bold colours there was also a strong component of neutrals and monochromatic colour palettes. Taupes, beiges, creams and browns were particularly popular in Moderne and Parisian Art Deco interiors.
Art Deco Furniture
The strong lines of Art Deco furniture often echo those found in period buildings, automobiles and trains. Highly polished lacquer sideboards, tubular steel chairs, exquisite inlaid wood veneer armoires and chrome and glass tables all fit into this iconic interior design style.
Fabrics were used to enhance the over-the-top elegance of Art Deco furniture. With all of the smooth surfaces and modern forms in an Art Deco room, upholstery was a soft and sumptuous compliment, with leather, velvet and satin being traditional choices.
Generally the fabrics were solid colours, with touches of geometrics, animal prints and graphic florals.
A geometric mirror is an iconic Art Deco accessory. There are some wonderful examples available.
Liberal use of chrome and mirror are also typical of the time and the Egyptian influence comes through strongly.
Here are some examples:
Lighting during this period was used as a strong architectural element and was typified by metallic and glass fittings incorporating flowers, female forms and repetitive geometric shapes. Lighting included floor lamps, uplights, wall sconces, chandeliers and table lamps. Most lamps were made from metals or ceramics and typically had clear, etched glass, rather than fabric shades.
Tile flooring was extremely popular, as was wood parquet. Black and white linoleum or marble tile placed in a checkerboard pattern are probably most closely associated with Art Deco interiors.
Rugs were widely used at this time. Geometric patterned and animal skin rugs would have been layered over tile floors to warm up living areas.