Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Scoop Homes and Art 41 Contents 242 HOMES & ART WINTER 2014
After waxing and waning in popularity
for nearly a century, art deco will
soon be 100 years old – and officially
classed as ‘antique’. WORDS Georgina Barker
Art deco is widely referenced as
the bold, decorative style that
flourished internationally in the
1920s and 30s, between the two world
wars, before being swept aside by mid-
century modernism and the atomic age.
However, the first hints of the style could
be seen as early as the start of the 20th
century, and some historians trace art deco’s
roots to the 1900 Exposition Universelle,
the world’s fair held in Paris to celebrate
the achievements of the past century and to
accelerate development into the next.
But it was the 1925 L’Exposition
Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et
Industriels Modernes in Paris that is most
closely linked to art deco and that gave the
movement its name, derived by shortening
the words ‘Arts Décoratifs’ from the title.
Created by French designers, art deco
is characterised by rich colours, bold
geometric shapes, sleek machine-age looks,
and lavish ornamentation. “It was a reaction
to the over-design and embellishment of
Victorianism, which was over-decorated,
over-carved, very dark, lots of objects and
mass-produced,” says Matthew Lucas from
Fremantle antique dealer Lauder & Howard.
“With art deco, the slate was wiped
clean. It was about simplicity, modernity.
It was also a new century, as well as the
social and political revolution, in which
women became more empowered and
houses became smaller. It marked the end
of 200 years of a pretty similar society.
Everything was reborn.”
The style became a global phenomenon
when it was embraced by Hollywood,
which showcased amazing sets, costumes
and furniture that local designers around
the world could copy. The 1934 film
Cleopatra, starring Claudette Colbert, was
a particularly dazzling showcase of art
deco fashion and interior design.
Art deco rejected Victorian timbers,
such as mahogany, and introduced
rosewood and bur timbers. Porcelain,
glass, marble, Bakelite, Vitrolite and
leather became widely used, and chroming
as a technology was introduced. It was
shiny, modern and revolutionary.
“Good art deco is really luxurious,”
says Matthew. “It’s simple but beautiful,
and looks great with modern architecture.
Gucci stores are still very much art deco.”
Art deco has always been popular,
though experts agree there has been
a particular surge in the last five years.
They say its status as an official antique is
unlikely to create a boom in popularity.
“It’s more about aesthetics,” says Matthew.
“I don’t think our generation really cares
about it being an ‘antique’ or not.”
Popularity is more likely to be
influenced by its recent appearances on
screen in The Great Gatsby movie and the
Underbelly: Razor series. Sydney high-end
art deco specialist DecoDiva supplied many
items for both productions, and owner
Mark Meredith said it was not only exciting
to be involved but also exciting to see the
impact on the popularity of the style.
“Art deco was extremely popular
last year and this year because of these
influences,” says Mark. “I think art deco
constantly reinvents itself. Today’s new
generation of buyers are looking for specific,
dynamic pieces of art. They’re generally not
collectors but just looking to furnish their
homes with a few art deco accents.”
Mark says lighting, bronzes, decanter
sets and different types of porcelain are
particularly popular. “Czech art deco
sculptures have made a real impact over
the last few years and we’ve got a lot of
new clients. Some people who wouldn’t
have considered art deco in the past are
becoming its biggest fans.”
DecoDiva has one of the best collections
of art deco in Australia. Decorative items
range from original 1930s tea sets and
Karl Palda Czech geometric glassware, to
bronze and sculptures, ranging in price
from $100 to $8000.
Locally, Subiaco Antiques & Fine
Jewellery is extremely busy with people
seeking art deco jewellery. “It’s the
busiest we’ve ever been on this front,”
says owner Emma Gryg. “I think art deco
translates well for West Australians and
Australians who aren’t too prissy. The style
is quite modern, strong, bold,
streamlined and clean compared
with the Victorian period, which
was more flowery and gentle.
“Art deco marks a lovely period
of time, during which there were
a lot of changes, including the
introduction of electricity and the car,
and society was no longer necessarily
doing things to please Queen Victoria
[who had died in 1901]. But it was
a short period,” says Emma.
“Another war came and talented
comes of age
Links Archive Scoop Homes and Art 42 Scoop Homes and Art 40 Navigation Previous Page Next Page