Art Deco came roaring into life at the Parisian Exhibition of 1925. All about modernity, Art Deco celebrates speed and mass production, making it the first decoration style truly available to all. At its peak between the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression of the 1930s, Art Deco was symbolised by the skyscrapers of New York and the Cubist paintings of Picasso with their angular and graphic lines.
Josephine Baker was one of the biggest stars of the Art Deco era and African influences were also a big part of the look, with materials like mother of pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell and animal prints taking centre stage. The discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922 quickly led to Egyptian mania and the prevalence of pyramid and sphinx motifs. Despite the wide range of influences, Art Deco can be most easily characterised by its clean and modern lines, geometric and stylised shapes and its very streamlined look.
Bold, geometric and angular lines and shapes
Highly reflective and modern materials including chrome, mirror tiles and glass
Stylised images of modern life with an emphasis on speed and glamour: planes, cars and skyscrapers
Bold and stylised nature motifs like shells and flowers
High contrast and theatrical interiors: black lacquer, chrome and polished wood softened with furs, silks and satins
Art Nouveau: Art Deco kept a lot of the natural motifs of the earlier movement but replaced the organic, flowing style with harder edges, a more stylised feel and a bolder palette of chrome and black
Africa and Egypt: as foreign travel became more popular and influences broadened, they were reflected in the materials and graphic influences of Art Deco
Cubism: Picasso's experiments with lines and angles were hugely influential
Hollywood: the glamour and escapism of the Silver Screen filtered into Art Deco through the use of opulent and shiny fabrics, lighting and mirrors.
Tips and tricks
Ceramics - these should be bold and angular in a strict monochrome scheme of black and white which makes it ideal for baths and toilets
Furniture - instead of vanity units, choose a strong pedestal sink with a chromed washstand for true Art Deco style
Floor - a black and white chequerboard pattern of tiles is classic Art Deco
Colour schemes - keep it simple. Monochrome is best for quality bathroom taps and showers, with chrome and mirrored accents, but you can introduce a bold accent colour like a strong crimson or a rich peacock blue.
Lighting - keep lighting functional with strong task lighting and a general wash. Fixtures should have a strong geometric look.
Walls and tiles - keep the walls white, or for Deco authenticity a pale blue or green. Keep tiles white, or for a modern twist on Deco style, introduce mirror or metallic tile accents
Accessories should be bold and graphic and a Deco mirror is a must. Keep the overall look clean, minimalist and clutter-free.
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