Thursday, August 14, 2008

Design Deliberations: Art Deco

Besides the Arts & Crafts style of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Art Deco is my other favorite design aesthetic for interior and exterior design. Personally, I would choose to live in an Arts & Crafts home and decorate it in that style - natural and rustic. It's more fuzzy wuzzy warm and cozy, and I like that. As an earth personality true and true, with bits of water and fire thrown in for good measure, I like to be comfortable. And cozy. So I think a homebody who loves to eat comfort food would do better in an Arts & Crafts home rather than an Art Deco one. Also the colors used in Arts & Crafts decorating suits me just fine [browns, mossy and forest greens, natural ochres, and terracotta] because I am an Autumn, and those are very pretty Autumn colors.

But I just love the look of Art Deco even if I don't necessarily want to live in an Art Deco home. Its beauty is easily appreciated when witnessed firsthand of course, but also when witnessed on the television screen or the movie theater screen. When I think of Art Deco, in terms of British Mystery, my mind immediately turns to Agatha Christie's Poirot. Sure there are lots of other cinematic examples of the Art Deco aesthetic. Movies of the 1920s and 1930s exemplify living in an Art Deco world, because it was during those years that its popularity peaked in the United States. You can see evidence of that when viewing the lovely Thin Man movies. Art Deco elements in such areas as clothing, jewelry, furniture, accessories, and large-scale designs of buildings, boats, and train stations are often featured in modern movies and television programs set during the Roaring Twenties, or soon thereafter. They add an incredible amount of integrity to the films they are featured in, as well as provide such visual attraction with their style and elegance.

Agatha Christie's Poirot starring David Suchet has to be one of the best sources on film for everything Art Deco. The location scouts, set designers, and costume designers who worked on that television series have done an excellent, nay a perfect job in creating Hercule's Poirot's world. His flat at Whitehaven Mansions in London, which is in actuality called Florin Court, is a beautiful representation of Art Deco. The houses in London as well as those around the English countryside, that Poirot travels to for his investigations, are also prime examples of sleek and streamlined symmetry. Funny enough, Art Deco is very much about symmetry, which of course is a topic that frequently occupies Hercules Poirot's fastidious mind.

The interior designs in Poirot are just as stunning as the exteriors. Glass, lacquer, and chrome are plentiful, along with surface embellishments featuring marquetry and enamelling. Egyptian motifs are popular Art Deco elements as well as patterns including chevrons, stepped forms, and sweeping curves. Floors are primarily marble, pale wood parquet, or wall to wall carpeting in light colors like cream and taupe. Accessories abound with angular pottery vases, vibrantly hued bowls, Lalique crystal, and Asian-inspired laquered screens.

Clothing, jewelry, and art fell under the influence of the Art Deco movement as well. Wide-legged pants, geometric patterns, bakelite jewelry, and Egyptian-themed jewelry containing turquoise and coral became very popular. You can read more about Art Deco here, or here, and also here. These sites provide springboards to jump to other related websites, for perhaps more information and glorious pictures.

[Photo at the very top of Florin Court is from Art of the State, photo of The Thin Man is from They Had Faces Then, photo of an Art Deco car is from Ace Collins, photo of lacquer screen is from Paul Stamati Gallery, photo of glass mirror is from Lynette Smith Mosaic Art, photo of Art Deco fashion is from Paperdoll Review, and photo of bakelite Egyptian-themed necklace is from Deja-Voodoo]

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