Art Deco was an influential visual arts design style that first appeared in France during the 1920s.
It emerged out of the glamour and exuberance of 1920s Paris, yet took inspiration from many other contemporary art movements.
Art Deco had a tremendous impact on graphic design and visual communication.
Here is an in-depth overview of Art Deco design and its key characteristics.
Origins and History of Art Deco
Art Deco emerged in Paris in the 1920s, influenced by various avant-garde styles like Cubism, Futurism, and Constructivism.
The name was derived from Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925.
Art Deco was influenced by the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 and the craze for all things exotic.
Art Deco captured the glamour of 1920s Paris and a fascination with speed, technology, and urbanization.
It spread to international centers like New York City and Chicago and was closely tied to the development of skyscrapers and luxury hotels.
Art Deco reached peak popularity in the 1930s before World War 2 disrupted the lavish lifestyle it embodied.
Visual Characteristics and Design Elements
Art Deco was characterized by geometric shapes and angular forms like circles, zigzags, trapezoids, chevrons, and sunbursts.
It utilized simplified, streamlined, and symmetrical imagery along with repetition of visual motifs and patterns.
Art Deco simulated luxurious materials like chrome, glass, gold, and silver in its designs.
It featured bold colors, often black, silver or gold as a background with a bright accent color like scarlet or lime green.
In typography, Art Deco favored thick bold san serif fonts, all caps, and exaggerated geometric letterforms.
It incorporated imagery of transportation, machinery, animals, and women into streamlined geometric designs.
Impact and Influence on Graphic Design
The Art Deco style was widely embraced in posters, advertisements, book covers, packaging, magazines, and more.
It epitomized modernity and captured dynamic urban life in the 1920s and 30s.
Art Deco was influenced by breakthroughs in transportation like automobiles, ocean liners, and airplanes.
It communicated ideas of luxury, glamour, and technological progress.
Art Deco was strongly associated with the development of brand identities and corporate graphic design.
Photomontage and geometrized photography were integrated with striking graphics.
Some of the most iconic poster designers like Adolphe Mouron Cassandre used Art Deco styles.
Well-Known Examples of Art Deco Graphic Design
Well-known examples include Cassandre's posters like Dubonnet, Nord Express, Au Bucheron.
The architectural design of New York skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building embodied Art Deco.
The Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center buildings in New York also used Art Deco motifs.
Art Deco was adapted for film and theater set designs like for The Great Gatsby.
The Streamline Moderne style of the 1930s in America evolved from Art Deco.
Packaging, magazine, and product design all utilized bold geometric forms and sleek imagery from Art Deco.
Art Deco Revival and Later Influences
Art Deco regained popularity in the 1960s and experienced a revival in graphic design and decor.
It was adapted in film noir movies like Batman and comic book art.
Art Deco visuals were used in animated films, video games, and album cover designs.
Art Deco originated as a luxurious modern visual style in 1920s Paris, encapsulating the energy of the era.
Its bold colorful designs, lavish motifs, and streamlined imagery left a dramatic impact on graphic design across the 20th century and continues to inspire designers today.