art deco style

Art Deco Architecture

The style that was loved by the people, hated by the critics.

The Chrysler Building
The Chrysler Building

Art Deco architecture was first and foremost considered to be decorative - ornamental and beautifying. Buildings, hotels, cinemas, railway stations, etc. were all embellished with quintessential Deco patterns like zigzags, sunbursts, Egyptian motifs and similar geometric patterns all in the name of beauty.

Post-war society very quickly fell in love with the style, as it was a representation of all that was modern, luxurious and beautiful. The 1920s were a time of joy and hopefulness and the masses embraced this new look with open arms. It was symbolic of the strong economy and it inspired hope for a prosperous future.

Unfortunately, architectural purists and critics absolutely hated it! They "sneered at the...'modernistic' application of Art Deco ornament, which they saw as 'commercial.'" (Benton, 2003) In essence they felt it was too much glitz and not enough substance. (What were they thinking!!??)

"More recently, however, architects and critics have begun to re-evaluate the importance of the decorative in architecture, seeing it not only as a popular reflection of rapidly changing conditions but as a rich and profound expression of human feelings." (Benton, 2003) (I'm glad they have finally come to their senses.)

Art Deco Building - 1 Wall St., NY Art Deco Hoover Building, London
Glam Gold Detail - 1 Wall St, NY
Bold Colours - Hoover Building, LDN

Architecture Characteristics

  • Streamlined, modern design
  • Angular, geometric patterns inlaid into facades:

      Art Deco Bird Motif
      Art Deco Bird Motif
    • - Zigzags
    • - Sunbursts
    • - Chevrons
    • - Sweeping curves (as opposed to stylized,    scrolly Art Nouveau curves)
    • - Egyptian motifs
    • - Floral motifs
    • - Bird motifs
  • Ziggurats (staggered or tiered pyramid shapes)
  • Symmetrical, repeating patterns
  • Use of bold colours - specifically green, yellow, turquoise and ruby
  • Gold accents
  • Inlaid stained glass - bold colouring
  • Liberal use of sleek-looking materials - stainless steel, aluminum, marble, glass

Art Deco Buildings & Architecture Websites

If you would like more information on this topic you must check out the follwing two sites. The guys who run them live and breathe Art Deco Architecture! They are the definitive sources on Art Deco Buildings and Architecture on the web.

Art Deco Architecture
Art Deco Buildings

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