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In the 1920s and 1930s, the art deco movement swept the world, originating at the International Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries in Paris, held in 1925. It focused on fine craftsmanship and luxe materials, and was defined by a modern aesthetic of linear forms with geometric detailing inspired by the era's advancements in technology. While art deco was not limited to the decorative arts — it trickled down into architecture, jewelry, and the graphic arts, to name a few — it came with a proliferation of furniture and decor objects. Today, you can buy many of those vintage pieces online.
Before you dive into your search, it's helpful to know some keywords, materials, and designer names. Consider details like chevron patterns or inlays in wood furnishings, both of which are common in art deco furniture. Cubism and fauvism are worth noting, as the two styles that heavily influenced art deco. For materials, pay attention to lacquer, chrome, aluminum, glass, rich woods like mahogany, shagreen (a rawhide), and Bakelite (a plastic). Keep designer names in mind, including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Louis Süe, and Jules Leleu, all of whom were top makers in the art deco style.
Once you've created a basis for your search, head to the following online shops to peruse their offerings of vintage art deco pieces:
Chairish is a massive online marketplace dedicated to furniture and art. It sells both vintage and new-but-vintage-inspired furniture. When you're searching for authentic art deco pieces, be sure the piece dates to the '20s or '30s. There's also a great app if you want to browse Chairish's selection on mobile.
Launched in 2001, 1stdibs was one of the earliest online purveyors of vintage furnishings. Art deco pieces abound, but they can get a bit pricey. The good news — you can bid on an item, just like you would at an auction, if you don't want to pay face value.
Etsy sells much, much more than just handcrafted goods. It's actually a great marketplace for vintage art deco furnishings. Be sure to filter your search by item type and select "vintage" and not "homemade."
Think of AptDeco as a Craigslist specifically for furniture and decor — it's super easy to both sell and buy pre-owned pieces. You'll find both vintage and contemporary furnishings here at a range of price points. It's a little harder to determine what's actually vintage, so pay close attention to the seller's write-up. That said, if you end up with a piece that isn't authentically vintage, shipping is a flat rate, and there's a free return policy with a money-back guarantee.
One Kings Lane is one of the best furniture retailers out there, selling all kinds of furnishings and home essentials. It has an entire section dedicated to vintage pieces — just be sure to filter your search by "vintage" condition.
Attic is essentially a search engine for finding vintage goods in a brick-and-mortar store near you. Pick your city from the list, scroll through the listings, and you'll be directed to the store's website or another marketplace where you can purchase the furniture. This option is ideal for people who'd like to see a piece in person before buying, but want to peruse from the comfort of their sofa. The only downside is the price isn't listed directly on the site.
The grandaddy of online bidding sites, eBay does have quite a fair share of art deco listings. Just beware that nothing is verified on the site, so you could be getting scammed. That said, you could also score a great deal.
For the real deal when it comes to art deco furniture, you can also head directly to the online shop of a reputed dealer or gallerist, like Maison Gerard in New York. It offers the crème de la crème of antique furniture and decor — at a price point to match. You'll actually have to inquire to find out the cost for each piece listed.
Pamono is a lesser-known gem of a furnishings retailer, sourcing high-quality furniture and decor from emerging galleries and new makers. We're quite impressed by its vintage selection, including a wide range of art deco pieces.
Though Rejuvenation primarily sells contemporary lighting, hardware, and furniture by independent makers, it has a fabulous collection of vintage furnishings that its buyers source from around the world. The business started as an architectural salvage company, so each piece you buy will be restored to ideal conditions.
Stefanie is a New York–based writer and editor. She has served on the editorial staffs of Architectural Digest, ARTnews, and Oyster.com, a TripAdvisor company, before setting out on her own as a freelancer. Her beats include architecture, design, art, travel, science, and history, and her words have appeared in Architectural Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, Popular Science, Mental Floss, Galerie, Jetsetter, and History.com, among others. In another life, she'd be a real estate broker since she loves searching for apartments and homes.