Art Deco was a period of sumptuous decadence particularly in the 1920s-30s, with furniture design harmonising with a luxurious lifestyle by use of stunning veneers, clean lines and attention to detail, without compromising on practicality. The term Art Deco was first coined in 1926 following an exhibition entitled Les Années ’25, held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Although the style originated in France after World War I it spread rapidly to America and is often associated with the Golden Age of Cinema.
With its geometric lines and functional use of metals, wood and leather, it is a style that complements many periods of architecture and this is the reason why it is, even now, highly sought after when considering furnishing, mirrors and decorative arts for interior design.
The most iconic design shape of the period is the ‘cloud back’: from sofas and armchairs to dining suites, its shape mimics that of a stylised cloud. This is closely followed by the ‘streamline’, a look reminiscent of the wings on luxury cars of the period with accommodating seats and wide, sweeping arms.
Pieces in walnut, satinwood and bird’s eye maple from the 1930s are generally in the more sumptuous bracket. Named designers are not always labelled, but those such as Harry and Lou Epstein and pieces by Heal’s of London, for example, have a distinctive style and quality which is unmistakable.
Art Deco has influenced design from the 1920s until today and you can readily see contemporary pieces that have been inspired by the original period. It is an exciting and often very accessible collecting area. Be sure to buy from a reputable and knowledgeable dealer to ensure that you are investing in an authentic piece from the period.
Jeroen Markies, Jeroen Markies Art Deco
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