From the 1920s into the '30s, one major design movement dominated the globe: art deco. Defined primarily by its focus on geometric forms, art deco style was born at the International Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries in Paris in 1925. In the exhibition, designers and artisans showcased futuristic goods inspired by new innovations in technology. These pieces incorporated metallic materials, streamlined silhouettes, and motifs from different regions around the world.
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Though nearly 100 years have passed since the heyday of art deco, designers are still inspired by the movement, and many still infuse it into contemporary spaces. If you're looking to bring a little art deco decor into your own home, just follow some of these simple tips. You'll be channeling The Great Gatsby in no time.
1. Focus on geometric forms.
Art deco's most famous characteristic is a focus on geometry, so bring that into your home with any sort of geometric wallpaper, artwork, wall panels, or furniture.
2. Go for shiny or reflective details.
Art deco was inspired by futurism and technology, so machine-like elements — namely, manmade metallic materials — were all the rage in the interior design world. Glass is a particularly smart choice for smaller spaces because it lessens the visual clutter in a room. Other popular materials include chrome, gold, silver, stainless steel, and lacquer.
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3. Add a statement mirror or two.
Mirrors were also highly popular decor items in art deco spaces. Find one that has gold trim in geometric shapes for a signature look.
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4. Avoid natural materials, except for highly polished rich woods or marquetry.
Given that art deco was all about technology, natural materials like wood and stone weren't exactly on-brand for the style. The exception was highly-polished rich woods, like walnut or mahogany, that had reflective qualities, as well as stylized marquetry that featured geometric forms.
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5. Incorporate a starburst item here and there.
The starburst, also referred to as the sunburst, was one of the most popular motifs during the art deco era, and plenty of modern furnishings feature the shape today. Adding it to your space is a surefire way to infuse some deco flair.
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6. Embrace animal prints.
Another result of the increase in travel, animal prints were all the rage in the art deco era. Keep it simple in your space with just one statement piece, like a coffee table or a club chair.
7. Use a high-contrast color palette, like jewel tones paired with soft neutral hues.
Art deco designers weren't afraid of color. On the more saturated side of the spectrum, jewel tones were a common palette. Often, those deep hues were paired with neutral colors in the beige, gray, or white families. To keep your space modern while nodding to art deco, go for a combo of jewel tones and neutrals.
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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.