Symbolic of that iconic Gatsby opulence, Art Deco is full of glam and luxury, as it brings rich bold colors and modern designs into the world of art, from architecture to furniture. Seamlessly blending the line between old and new world designs, Art Deco is an eclectically beautiful style that has become one of the most popular aesthetics to date.


Black art deco desk with gold chair and cala lily lamp brass
Photo by Amy Bartlam / Design by Taylor Jacobson

A Little History…

Dating back to the early 20th century, Art Deco found its fame after World War I. When people were searching for something to contrast the austerity of the war, Art Deco offered a luxurious, indulgent relief. The name itself comes from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts) where it made its official debut in Paris of 1925. Art Deco draws from a number of influences, including its predecessor Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus, Cubism, Constructivism, and Parisian Fauvism.

Defining Traits

Art Deco can easily be identified by its symmetrical and streamlined look. It often uses simple, clean shapes, and geometric representations of things like flowers, animals, and sunrays, resulting in very angular and sharp designs. Many Art Deco pieces are inspired by international symbols, such as Egyptian sphinxes and African textiles. The style relies on bold accents, like glossy black, red, and gold, and uses rich materials to further accentuate the glamorous atmosphere.

purple swedish deco chair orange abstract taupe sofa modern
Photo by Nicole Franzen / Design by Lilly Bunn

Art Deco Furniture Makers to Know

Every furniture maker has their own unique take on Art Deco, with distinct interpretations that have made the Art Deco world as we know it today.

Aldo Tura

Experimental furniture designer Aldo Tura used unusual materials, like parchment, eggshell, and goatskin, in his creations. His handcrafted designs are characterized by bronze detailing and strong accent colors (typically red, green, and yellow). He took a more minimalist approach to Art Deco, and implemented high-end, artisanal techniques, created a very limited number of pieces for each design.

Paul Frankl

With an architectural background, Paul Frankl designed and painted fine art and furniture, creating a uniquely American design aesthetic. He used bold and attractive colors, mainly glossy black with red accents, to create sleek silhouettes. Paul Frankl’s iconic pieces most representative of the Art Deco style are his Skyscraper Bookcases, consisting of shelves in various size rectangles and squares, built up in structured geometric towers.

Le Corbusier

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, also known as Le Corbusier, was the designer of the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, the building created for the very event that gave Art Deco its name. His unique perspective on design, believing in simplicity and a lack of decoration, gave way to streamlined styles with an emphasis on functionality.

Jacques Adnet

Jacques Adnet is one of the great Art Deco icons, inspired by pre-classical styles in a modern setting. He was among the first to implement metal and glass into the structure of his designs. Jacques Adnet created mainly commissioned works in the 1950s, including the decoration of the meeting room of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.


David Haeger, a German immigrant, started Haeger Potteries in Illinois in 1852, originally as a brickyard. Eventually, Haeger began to create teaware, luncheonware, crystal, and glassware. As Art Deco came into popularity in the 20th century, Haeger made a number of pieces in bold colors and distinctly symmetrical designs.

Extra Credit Designer:

Karl Springer

Although Karl Springer is technically a Mid-Century designer, he is credited as one of the designers responsible for the Art Deco revival in the 1980s. As one of the most influential American furniture stylists, Karl Springer worked with exotic materials to create contemporary furniture with pure, classical shapes. His signature Art Deco style was accompanied by his high attention to detail and quality, resulting in many collections of tables, wood sconces, lamps, and more.

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May 14, 2015

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