Color in the Art Deco Era

Art Deco colors covered the furnishings, interiors, and buildings of the Art Deco era. The Art Deco movement, which came into prominence during the early 1920’s, is a unique design period that emphasized bold patterns and design. In contrast to Art Nouveau, which preceded Art Deco and took most of its inspiration from the natural world, this style was driven by mass-production and technological advancement.

Whereas a typical Nouveau design features intricate floral patterns and organic shapes, those seen in Art Deco designs are comparatively rigid and slick. While a Nouveau designer may have used a bouquet of flowers or a field of poppy as their muse, the Deco designer would have been more impressed by the cool, mechanical surface of a skyscraper. As a result, the colors used in Deco designs tend to be more glossy and polished than those of the Nouveau era.

Art Deco Apartment in Manhattan by Robert Couturier

Today, nearly 100 years later, it appears that the style of the 20’s era is having a bit of a rebirth. Art deco furniture and art reproductions are finding a place in lives of today’s young homeowners. In order to properly decorate like a 1920’s fashionista, however, you need to make sure that you’re using color properly. Keeping these tips in mind as you pick out wallpaper and scour antique shops for furniture will have your home looking like Prohibition-era parlor in no time.


Starting Art Deco Colors: Gold and Silver are a Must

When we think about color in Art Deco, the first things that come to mind are gold and silver. These colors were relatively rare before the 1900’s, particularly for middle-class people.

If you want a true Art Deco-inspired home today, you can’t afford to overlook the value of metallics. Ideally, your walls would be patterned with wallpaper that looked like it belonged in the home of Gatsby himself. If that’s too much though, make sure to keep some shiny decorative trinkets or lamps on your shelves.


Creamy Colors Work Well, Too

Gold and silver not working for you? Afraid it will come across as chintzy? No worries! Beige and other creams make a fantastic (and more subdued) substitute. Furniture, lampshades, and throw pillows can all work together to create a nice, elegant theme.

The great thing about these colors is, like gold, they can be accompanied by nearly any other color. Dark blues like navy and muted greens like forest pair particularly well with beige and help to create a very Deco-esque environment.


Contrast, Contrast, Contrast

Speaking of beiges and navy blues, it’s important to note that contrasting colors are a key characteristic of this style. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an Art Deco room with monochrome walls. The people living during that time period loved patterns layered over patterns and colors that really popped.

The 1920’s and early 30’s, after all, were a period of vibrant celebration. People used Art Deco colors to celebrate wealth and good fortune. One way that they did this was by designing rooms in such a way that everything felt alive. If you want to jazz your home up like you’re living in the post-WWI world, then, make sure to use some contrasting colors.


Embrace Patterns

Art Deco colors aren't exactly the right style for minimalists. It requires contrasting colors, collected trinkets and layered patterns. And if you’re an Art Deco purist, layered patterns are crucial.

Most art deco patterns are two-toned, which makes layering them pretty easy and fun. So, if your couch fabric has a gold and blue motif, your carpet has a checkered pattern and your furniture has ornate trim, don’t worry. They may not seem like they go well together, but you’ll be surprised how well they actually do. Once you commit to the process of creating your Art Deco dream room, you’ll find that it comes together quite easily.

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