About Art Deco Furniture

ART DÉCO – an art style that embodies extravagance, luxury, sophistication and the lifestyle of the “roaring” 1920s like no other. The furniture of this period is modern, timeless and of excellent craftsmanship.

In the period after the First World War until the global economic crisis of 1929, life was enjoyed to excess, especially in France, conventions were thrown overboard, accompanied by a new way of life that was characterized by the change from the traditional old to the modern new world. In epicentres like Paris, this new attitude found expression in a freer living and pervaded many areas of life, from fashion to music and entertainment to architecture and furnishings.

Art Deco is both a style and the term for the era from around 1909 to 1939. In the two decades that followed, a lot of furniture was still built in the Art Deco style and designers are still incorporating modern elements into contemporary designs today.

The term “Art Déco” goes back to the world exhibition of applied arts and industrial design “Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes” in Paris in 1925, where the so-called “Style Moderne” reached its climax. The epoch is therefore often referred to as the beginning of modernity.

The abbreviated name “Art Déco”, “Art Deco” or “Art deco” itself only came about later with the 1966 exhibition “Les Années 25” in the Paris Musée des Arts décoratifs.

A perfect interplay of architecture and interior design was presented at the highest level of design, and various furniture artists such as Jacque-Emilie Ruhlmann furnished top-class pavilions.

It included furniture of classic and timeless elegance made of valuable precious wood veneers such as macassar, rosewood or amboyna root with elaborate high-gloss lacquers as well as chrome-plated and nickel-plated metal parts and exotic materials such as galuchat, shagreen stingray leather or silver and ivory inlays. Elaborately processed and yet simple wall and ceiling lights, and excellent glass work, as well as bronze sculptures of masterful quality were created during this time.

Well-known style-defining designers of this time were big names like: Jacques-Emilie Ruhlmann, Jean Dunand, Jean Royere, Pierre Chareau, Paul Dupré-Lafon, Eileen Grey, Jules Leleu, Christian Krass or Jean-Michel Frank.

It did not take long for this style to spread worldwide and to shape architecture in North America with well-known Art Deco buildings such as the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building or the Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, New York City.

Also often mentioned in this context is the “Style International”, which spread internationally and adopted the modern, streamlined principles of Art Deco, with decorative elements increasingly being omitted. This was primarily promoted in the USA by émigré Bauhaus designers such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Influenced by this, modernist furniture was designed in America in the 1930s and 40s, which is also simpler than the Art Deco furniture of the late 1920s.

Art Deco includes curved or geometric and cubist forms, or simplicity and austerity dominate, loosened up by subtle inlays and refined chrome details – always characterized by cool elegance.

Art Déco also quotes stylistic elements from bygone eras as well as exotic motifs from the colonies of France and England, always style-consciously used in the spirit of modernity.

While the early Art Deco furniture was a bit more curved and influenced by Art Nouveau, the later, so-called modernist furniture is more simple in its design and influenced by Streamline and Bauhaus.

The Art Deco style quickly found its way into hotels, casinos, cinemas, public buildings and exclusive private and business premises.

The outbreak of the Second World War can be seen as the end of the Art Deco era, with it only being rediscovered at the end of the 1960s and still defining the style of modern architecture and interior design today, and it has lost none of its appeal to this day.

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