Today, the art deco movement is a thing of the past, but it is not easy to discount the impact this international design movement has had on history. The art deco movement emerged around 1920 and during the two decades of its hey day, would gain great popularity as a modern and urbane style of design.
At the time, art deco was regarded as an innovative and revolutionary aesthetic. It rapidly infiltrated all areas of the decorative and industrial arts, and at its peak in the roaring twenties, the art deco movement was literally ubiquitous. Its influence spanned every art form including fashion design, architecture, film-making, sculpture and more.
Throughout history, artistic movements have commonly had political and philosophical undertones. What made art deco unique was that it was a major design movement that was purely cosmetic in nature. Art deco was purely ornamental, the sole emphasis bring on the aesthetic effect.
One of the lesser know facts about the art deco movement is the origins of the name ‘art deco’. The history of the term goes back to a major world exposition that was held in Paris in 1925, titled the Exposition Internationale des Arts Dcoratifs et Industriels Modernes. By shortening the words ‘Arts Dcoratifs’, the term ‘art deco’ was derived, however it not until the late 1960s, when when the famous art historian, Bevis Hillier, popularized the term in his book, that the term ‘art deco’ was officially coined and put into widespread usage.
Art deco abruptly declined in popularity around the time of World War II. Around that time the West began the mass-production of art deco interior design items, including everything from art deco clocks, pianos, mirrors, novelty items and more. The mass production over-popularized art deco on the consumer market, and the style soon became too common, loosing its elite appeal. Art deco was no longer new-fangled and posh, but an overrated style.
Today, there are numerous attempts to preserve and restore art deco buildings and vintage art deco items. Vestiges of the art deco movement can be seen in the facades and interiors of private homes and public buildings alike, and these relics continue to inspire us with a nostalgic sense of the past. Vintage art deco specialty pieces, as well as vintage everyday items, like old art deco kitchen utensils, also serve as special reminders of a colorful, glamorous, and forward-looking time in our history.
In recent years, there have been some small, isolated resurgences of the art deco interior design movement, but the movement as a whole has never regained the momentum it had in the 1920s and 1930s. Nevertheless, many people continue to treasure the art deco legacy and to safeguard that legacy for future generations.