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What to Look for When Buying Art Deco Furniture

What to Look for When Buying Art Deco Furniture

Making use of strong lines, stark contrast, and old Hollywood charm, Art Deco had its heyday between the first and second World Wars. Though it spiked in popularity nearly a century ago, it still has a place in home design today. Art Deco pieces are famous for their luxurious materials and careful craftsmanship, but you don't have to be a Rockefeller to add bright and bold Art Deco style to your home. Look out for these key features of Art Deco furniture as you furnish your own retro-glam space.

Signature Characteristics of Art Deco Furniture:


Bold Geometry

In the early 20th century, Cubist artists like Picasso traded traditional perspective and depth for a fractured, geometric view. Art Deco furniture and design borrows from this style by emphasizing bold lines and unusual forms. From chairs and desks to toasters and cars, Art Deco uses smaller shapes to create the larger geometric forms. Geometric inlays like pyramids, sunbursts, and arches are also a common sight in wooden Art Deco pieces of the Roaring ’20s.


Sharp Contrast

Black, white, and metallic shades are a common sight in Art Deco furniture. Such stark contrast creates a sleek, cosmopolitan look that complements the symmetry found in many Art Deco homes. Contrasting colors like black, white, and gold make a timeless color palette that can be dressed up or down. You can also find furniture with powdery pastels and bright jewel tones, like those often seen in Miami Beach Deco.


Exotic Materials

At the peak of the Art Deco movement, traveling large distances became easier than ever. This lead to an increase of imported furs, hides, and exotic materials like ivory, mahogany, and pearl. As mass-produced furniture became more available to the middle class, the wealthiest American opted for rare, expensive materials in their decor instead. Today, faux fur and leather make Art Deco furniture and home decor more affordable and humane while maintaining their exotic appeal.


High Shine

Like the top of the Chrysler Building, Art Deco requires a glossy high shine. In the early 1900s, new materials like chrome, plate glass, and Japanese lacquer became extremely popular in wealthy businesses and homes. These features may have been status symbols at the time but are now staples of Art Deco furniture. Look for highly polished or mirrored surfaces in items like tables, lamps, and wall decor to add class and shine to any room.


Accents with Movement

Art Deco is heavily influenced by Futurism, an artistic style of sculpture that emphasizes speed, technology, and youth. Even large furniture pieces have sleek lines and curves that imply movement. The signature curves and semi-circles of this style can be found anywhere from armchairs to bed frames. Much like the Art Deco Prometheus statue in Rockefeller Center, Art Deco furniture and home decor capture a sense of drama and movement.


Ancient Inspiration

Despite its emphasis on the sleek and modern, Art Deco was heavily influenced by ancient art. With the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, Egyptian motifs and references to ancient art appeared everywhere from chairs to elevators. Along with fan- and reed-like shapes that found their way into furniture arms and backs, Aztec ziggurats and Greco-Roman influences began appearing in furniture, home decor, and architecture.


Classic Hollywood Glam

Art Deco was popular during the first days of the silver screen, so it’s no coincidence that many of today’s movie houses retain an Art Deco-influenced Hollywood charm. Huge chandeliers, tall vertical lines, and gold accents lend themselves well to the glamour of the movies, making Art Deco furniture a fitting choice for a home theater or entertainment area. Look for translucent or mirrored surfaces in chairs, dressers, and tables. Metallic or lacquered pieces also look at home in this glamorous style, especially when paired with luxurious window treatments.