Art Deco is a type of visual art, design and architecture. Also
known as Desco, it first appeared in France just before the start of the 1st
World War. This visual design has continued to influence building design ever
since. Combining modernist design with craftsmanship and high quality
materials, Art Deco during it zenith was synonymous with luxury, social and
technological prowess and glamour.
In terms of architecture, this means that it represented an all
new high for humanity in terms of technological and monetary ability. This type
of architecture is also sometimes called style modern as it was cutting edge
during its time. It became a major style with a lot of the world’s major
buildings being creating using it throughout the 1930s in Western Europe and
Art Deco was used to create Cathedrals, movie places and
theatres across Europe and America. The exterior design matched in interior
aesthetic, especially for cinemas and theatres. A lot of the fashion and
jewelry being worn also matched the popular buildings being created as the
world was overtaken by Art Deco fever. It was fashionable and that meant that
people not only want to wear Art Deco clothing but also visit Art Deco
You can spot Art Deco architecture quite easily thanks to its
simple shapes, clean edges and ‘streamlined’ appearance. Using geometric shapes
to its advantage, an Art Deco building also uses varied, yet expensive
materials including man-made items like plastics and glass. Famous Art Deco
buildings in America include New York City’s The Verizon Building and the Los
Angeles’ Bullocks Wilshire. Both of which were built in the 1920’s during the
start of the Art Deco movement.
Later buildings throughout Europe include the Éden Theater in
Lisbon, the Moscow Mayakovskaya Station and Daily Express Building built in
Manchester. Each of these were constructed during the 1930’s where this design
process was refined. The Daily Express Building in Manchester is a great
example of man-made materials it is almost entirely covered in glass windows.
These give the building a distinct appearance and the soft corners and curving
exterior make it one of the quintessential Art Deco buildings.
This kind of architecture continued pasted the end of the
1930’s. It endured both World Wars with buildings being constructed throughout
the world up to the end of the 1940’s each with a distinct Art Deco design. In
1941, Puerto Rico finished construction on The Plaza del Mercado de Ponce as a
market place building. It is a classic Art Deco building as you can see from
the front of the building. The distinct lines using bold colors as well as the
‘streamlined’ appearance showcase its Art Deco influence. Another 1940’s
example is the Altino Arantes Building in Brazil which was built in 1947. This
blocky skyscraper uses the same Art Deco appearances as other buildings but
combines these styles with a more traditional skyscraper appearance.
Art Deco design hasn’t gone away either. There has been a
recent resurgence in Art Deco, known now as Neo-Art Deco. Houses are being
designed with Art Deco principals and in Las Vegas, Nevada the Smith Center for
the Performing Arts was constructed in 2012 featuring Neo-Art Deco designs. As
you can see the movement is alive and well and the evidence is all around us.
From the 1920’s buildings all the way up to the latest designs, Art Deco has
influenced many architects design decisions.