When Art Deco was formally introduced at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, it was referred to as “arts decoratifs” or “style moderne.”

From its origins in Europe, the architectural movement quickly spread to North America. In particular, elaborate designs gained widespread popularity in the United States. In the 1920s and 1930s, numerous grand structures, including office buildings, rail stations, and movie theatres, were erected with decorative elements that were both ornate and functional.

Is “The Great Gatsby” in Art Deco Style?

When asked, today, many Americans would say “The Great Gatsby” is the first cultural element that they associate with its style. This famous novel showcases the excess and opulence of the style.

From architecture to interiors to costumes, the film production celebrates elements of the style with geometric motifs, sharp edges, metallic finishes, and effusive decorations.

In this elaborate style moderne, mirrored surfaces and reflective metals like chrome and stainless steel are added elegantly to exotic woods.

What is the Difference Between Art Deco and Art Nouveau Styles?

Questions about the similarities and differences between Art Nouveau and Art Deco often arise. Art Nouveau preceded Art Deco and informed it.

The former featured decorative elements of natural motifs and flowery designs, while style elements include sleek opulent geometric designs and bold hues. Lacquer, metal, and marble are often seen in the style, as are elaborate detailing and stunning animal skins.

This design style is all about luxury and elegance depicted on smooth surfaces and sharp edges. Straight lines and flowing curves are found on such things as the legs or pedestals on massive mirrored dining tables.

Who Started the Style Moderne?

French designers who contributed to the beginnings of Art Deco were Emile Jacques Ruhlmann and Le Corbusier. Austria made its contribution to the movement with Josef Hoffmann, while Scotsman Charles Rennie Mackintosh made many important contributions. Each country had its take on the style, but all contributed to the overall vision of it.

American Designers Embrace Art Deco

Norman Bel Geddes and Frank Lloyd Wright are featured in our Arts & Crafts style guide. Eileen Gray also excelled in her Deco design work. The 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair gave designers the perfect opportunity to showcase this opulent, glamorous style.

Notable American Buildings with Stylish Elements

When asked to name notable buildings in America, most will begin with either the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building, two of NYC’s finest.

Its influences are even seen in the building facades and decorative elements of Hoover Dam, which inspired other structures. The beloved Smith Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Las Vegas, NV, and many structures in South Beach in Miami, Florida offer beautiful examples of cool architecture.

Style Lighting

As with architecture, furniture, art, and decor, lighting designs of the period were influenced by the style. Torchieres or torch lamps were commonly used along with wall sconces, both styles highlighted with the use of stained glass shades. An example of a lamp shade material that was used during the period to great effect is the mica material used on our Mica 3 Light Arc Lamp.

Today’s Style

For many of us, a home designed entirely in Art Deco style, will most likely not fit into our lifestyles. However, a few Art Deco furniture pieces and decorative elements can certainly elevate our interior spaces. Below are a few ways to add Art Deco touches to your home.

Art deco mirror

Mirrors in mirrored frames, dining tables, buffets, bedroom dressers, dressing tables, and storage pieces fit seamlessly into today’s contemporary interiors while infusing your space with timeless style.

Oversized contemporary wall art fits beautifully with modern-style furnishings. Could those French designers in 1925 possibly have imagined that this new style they were introducing would endure and enrich lives well into the 21st century? Their efforts ensured that their design legacies would live on.

Sculptures and jewelry pieces are also highly prized today. This style seemed to be specially made for both of these artistic mediums.

Designer Takeaways on Style Moderne Art Deco Style:

  • The French Art Deco Movement began as a style christened “style moderne.”
  • European designers were the first to embrace the Art Deco style.
  • Architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright was influenced by both the Art & Crafts style and Art Deco style.
  • The Chicago World’s Fair in 1933-34 highlighted that style.
  • The Great Gatsby exemplifies the Art Deco style in the U.S.
  • Mirrored furniture is a much-loved element of the Art Deco style.
  • We can add Deco touches to our homes today.

Interested in finding out more about other design styles? Check out our style guide series.

art deco celebaration of the modern world