1920s Art Deco

The Timeless Charm of 1920s Art Deco


Wide image of 1920s Art Deco architecture with bold geometric shapes, vibrant colors, and vintage elements.
Wide image showcasing 1920s Art Deco architecture featuring a grand building with geometric shapes, bold lines, vibrant colors, vintage cars, and well-dressed people.


Art Deco, a style that began in the 1920s, remains one of the most beloved design movements. Originating in France, it quickly spread worldwide, leaving a lasting mark on architecture, interior design, fashion, and art. Let's explore the fascinating world of 1920s Art Deco and see why it still captures our imaginations in 2024.

Origins of Art Deco

French Beginnings

Art Deco started in Paris. Its roots trace back to the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. This event celebrated modern decorative arts and showcased new design ideas. The style emerged as a reaction to the austerity of World War I, embracing luxury, modernity, and technological progress.

Global Spread

By the late 1920s, Art Deco had spread across the globe. It influenced various fields, including architecture, fashion, and industrial design. In the United States, cities like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles became hubs for Art Deco architecture. Iconic buildings like the Chrysler Building and the Miami Beach hotels exemplify this style.



Key Characteristics of 1920s Art Deco


Showcasing key characteristics of 1920s Art Deco: geometric patterns, luxurious materials, vibrant colors.
Highlighting 1920s Art Deco features: bold geometric patterns, luxurious materials like ivory and chrome, and vibrant colors like emerald green and deep red.


Geometric Patterns

Art Deco is renowned for its bold geometric shapes, which are a defining feature of this iconic style. Zigzags, chevrons, and sunburst motifs are commonly found in Art Deco designs, adding a dynamic and modern touch to various surfaces. These patterns often appear in:

  • Wallpapers: Geometric patterns create striking visual effects on walls, making a bold statement in any room. Examples include zigzag or chevron designs in black and gold, providing a luxurious backdrop.
  • Fabrics: Upholstery and drapery often feature these patterns, adding a sense of movement and energy to interiors. For instance, chairs and sofas with bold, patterned fabrics can become focal points in a living room.
  • Floor Tiles: Geometric designs in floor tiles provide a sense of continuity and flow within a space. Tiles with sunburst or geometric mosaic patterns are commonly used in entryways or bathrooms.


  • The Chrysler Building in New York City features sunburst motifs in its spire, exemplifying the geometric flair of Art Deco architecture.
  • The interior of the Radio City Music Hall showcases intricate geometric patterns in its carpets and walls.

Luxurious Materials

The use of luxurious materials is a hallmark of Art Deco, contributing to its reputation for glamour and sophistication. Key materials include:

  • Rich Woods: Materials like ebony and mahogany were commonly used for furniture and paneling, providing a sense of warmth and elegance.
  • Shiny Metals: Chrome and stainless steel were utilized to create sleek, reflective surfaces, enhancing the overall opulence of the style.
  • Exotic Materials: Ivory, jade, and tortoiseshell added an element of exoticism and exclusivity. High-gloss finishes and lacquered surfaces were also popular.


  • The use of lacquered ebony and ivory in Ruhlmann's furniture pieces, which were highly sought after during the Art Deco period.
  • The lobby of the Empire State Building, which features polished marble and chrome accents.

Vibrant Colors

Color plays a significant role in Art Deco design, with a palette that includes vibrant hues like emerald green, royal blue, and deep red, often contrasted with black and gold. These bold colors add to the style's dramatic and opulent feel. The use of contrasting colors helped to highlight the geometric patterns and luxurious materials.

  • Emerald Green: Often used in upholstery and decorative accents to add a rich, luxurious feel.
  • Royal Blue: Commonly seen in wall treatments and textiles, providing a bold contrast to lighter colors.
  • Deep Red: Used in combination with black and gold for a dramatic effect in interiors and accessories.
  • Black and Gold: Frequently used together to create a sense of elegance and sophistication.


  • The vibrant color schemes in the interiors of the Fisher Building in Detroit, which include a rich mix of greens, blues, and golds.
  • The use of deep reds and golds in the furnishings and decor of the Eltham Palace in London, reflecting the luxurious and bold nature of Art Deco design.



Art Deco in Architecture


Art Deco building with a tiered crown, vertical lines, decorative panels, and polished stone.
Art Deco building featuring a symmetrical design, vertical lines, tiered crown, decorative panels with geometric patterns, and luxurious materials.


Symmetry and Streamlined Forms

Art Deco architecture is characterized by symmetry and streamlined forms, which give buildings a sleek, clean look. This style often emphasizes vertical lines, creating a sense of height and grandeur. Key features include:

  • Symmetrical Facades: Buildings often have balanced and proportionate facades, which create a harmonious visual appeal.
  • Vertical Emphasis: The use of vertical lines and tiered designs draws the eye upward, enhancing the structure's height.


  • Chrysler Building, New York: A quintessential example of Art Deco architecture, the Chrysler Building features a tiered crown and spire that pierces the sky. Its facade is adorned with geometric patterns and ornamentation that highlight its vertical lines.
  • Empire State Building, New York: Another iconic structure, the Empire State Building's streamlined form and emphasis on verticality make it a hallmark of Art Deco design.

Fun Fact:

  • The Chrysler Building was briefly the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1930, before being surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.

Decorative Elements

Art Deco architecture is renowned for its decorative elements, which blend functional design with artistic flair. These features include:

  • Decorative Panels and Friezes: Often depicting stylized figures, animals, and plants, these panels add visual interest and texture to buildings.
  • Intricate Ironwork: Decorative ironwork, such as railings and grilles, showcases elaborate patterns and craftsmanship.


  • Palais de Chaillot, Paris: This building features extensive decorative panels and sculptures that exemplify the Art Deco style.
  • Radio City Music Hall, New York: Known for its intricate ironwork and decorative elements, this venue is a prime example of Art Deco's blend of art and function.

Real-Life Example:

  • Sunset Tower, Los Angeles: This building is a perfect illustration of Art Deco architecture, with its symmetrical design, streamlined form, and decorative panels depicting stylized sunbursts and geometric patterns.

Materials and Craftsmanship

Art Deco architecture often incorporates luxurious materials and high-quality craftsmanship, enhancing its elegant and sophisticated appearance. Common materials include:

  • Polished Stone and Marble: These materials are frequently used for facades and interiors, adding a sense of opulence.
  • Chrome and Stainless Steel: Shiny metals are used for decorative elements and accents, creating a modern, reflective surface.


  • Guardian Building, Detroit: Known as the "Cathedral of Finance," this building features lavish use of marble, stone, and metal, showcasing the Art Deco style's focus on luxury and detail.
  • Eltham Palace, London: This building combines polished stone, marble, and intricate ironwork to create a stunning example of Art Deco design.

Fun Fact:

  • The Guardian Building's lavish interior features a stunning mix of colors and materials, earning it the nickname "Cathedral of Finance."

Key Features of Art Deco Architecture

  • Symmetrical Facades: Balanced and proportionate designs create a harmonious visual appeal.
  • Vertical Emphasis: Use of vertical lines and tiered structures to enhance height and grandeur.
  • Decorative Panels and Friezes: Stylized figures, animals, and plants add visual interest and texture.
  • Intricate Ironwork: Elaborate patterns and craftsmanship in railings and grilles.
  • Luxurious Materials: Polished stone, marble, chrome, and stainless steel for an elegant and sophisticated look.



Art Deco in Interior Design


Art Deco interior with sleek furniture, geometric patterns, chrome accents, and decorative lighting.
Art Deco interior featuring lacquered furniture, mirrored panels, chrome accents, geometric patterns, bold textiles, and decorative lighting.


Furniture and Decor

Art Deco furniture is sleek and elegant, characterized by its luxurious materials and geometric patterns. Key features include:

  • Lacquered Surfaces and Mirrored Panels: Furniture pieces often have glossy, lacquered finishes and mirrored panels, adding a touch of sophistication and modernity.
  • Chrome Accents: Shiny chrome accents are common, providing a sleek and reflective quality.
  • Common Furniture Items: Armchairs with geometric patterns, low coffee tables, and sideboards with inlaid wood designs are typical of this style.


  • Armchairs: Geometric patterned armchairs often have lacquered wood frames and chrome accents, adding both comfort and style to the room.
  • Sideboards: Sideboards with inlaid wood designs and mirrored panels serve as functional and decorative pieces.


Lighting in Art Deco interiors is both functional and decorative, enhancing the overall aesthetic. Key features include:

  • Chandeliers and Sconces: These often feature frosted glass and chrome, incorporating geometric shapes and stylized motifs.
  • Table Lamps: Table lamps with sleek, modern designs add a touch of glamour to any room.


  • Chandeliers: A chandelier with frosted glass shades and chrome detailing can become the focal point of a room.
  • Table Lamps: Table lamps with geometric bases and chrome finishes provide both illumination and style.

Textiles and Accessories

Textiles and accessories play a crucial role in Art Deco interiors, contributing to the overall theme and adding visual interest. Key features include:

  • Bold Patterns and Metallic Threads: Rugs, cushions, and curtains often feature bold geometric patterns and metallic threads.
  • Decorative Accessories: Vases, clocks, and picture frames with Art Deco designs enhance the room's aesthetic.


  • Rugs and Cushions: Rugs with bold geometric patterns and cushions with metallic threads add texture and color to the space.
  • Vases and Clocks: Decorative vases with stylized motifs and clocks with sleek, modern designs complete the Art Deco look.

Fun Fact:

  • Art Deco lighting often used innovative materials like Bakelite and aluminum, which were new and cutting-edge at the time.


Art Deco in Art and Fashion

Visual Arts

Art Deco also made a significant impact on visual arts. Artists like Tamara de Lempicka embraced the style, creating works that featured clean lines and vibrant colors. The style influenced painting, sculpture, and graphic design.


In fashion, Art Deco is synonymous with the flapper dress. These dresses often had geometric beadwork and fringes. Accessories like long necklaces, cloche hats, and Art Deco-inspired jewelry completed the look. The style represented freedom and modernity, fitting the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.


The Enduring Appeal of Art Deco

Modern Revival

Art Deco has seen a resurgence in recent years. Its timeless appeal lies in its blend of elegance, luxury, and modernity. Many designers and architects draw inspiration from Art Deco, incorporating its elements into contemporary designs.

Collectible Items

Art Deco items are highly collectible. Furniture, jewelry, and art pieces from the 1920s are sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Their enduring popularity is a testament to the style's lasting impact.



The 1920s Art Deco style remains a symbol of sophistication and modernity. Its bold geometric patterns, luxurious materials, and vibrant colors continue to inspire designers and decorators. As we move through 2024, the influence of Art Deco is still evident, proving that great design never goes out of style.

By understanding the origins, characteristics, and applications of Art Deco, we can appreciate its timeless charm. Whether in architecture, interior design, or fashion, Art Deco's legacy lives on, enriching our lives with its beauty and elegance.