During the heady flapper and Prohibition gin-infused days of the Roaring Twenties and into the 1930s, Art Deco style was all the rage. One can look no further to the history books or the great classic films to see how wildly popular the style was.
Famed Hollywood Art Director Cedric Gibbons (who introduced Art Deco in American cinema) was struck by and succumbed to the style's streamlined and symmetrical designs, which he first saw at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs retrospective of the 1925 Paris Exposition.
Inspired and, now a devotee, Gibbons brought Art Deco to millions of moviegoers via his Busby Berkeley musicals and dramatic Greta Garbo films. The sensual and geometric interiors of the style became a national hit as it formed the perfect backdrop for the rich at play.
In contrast were the starker, minimal styles of Art Nouveau. As RubyLUX dealer Marjolein van der Slikke of the Antwerp, Belgium-based gallery—Deconamic—which specializes in exclusive bronzes, sculptures, paintings and objects from both the Deco and Nouveau periods, explains, "Art Nouveau is the style period that originated and became most popular between 1890 and 1910 when the architects and designers found their inspiration in nature. Decorations of whiplash curves and motifs like plants, feathers and leaves were used to create unique sculptures, objects and furniture."
Many of Deconamic's Art Deco items embody the best of the style with their sublime lines, exotic motifs and elegant straight lines. And as Van der Slikke points out, "The human body was depicted in a stylized, idealistic way—women with short hair are depicted dancing, juggling and balancing while male athletes are javelin throwers and archers."
Much like the trends of the 1920s and 1930s, today's interiors are rarely Art Deco and Art Noveau from floor to ceiling (unless you are Barbra Streisand whose Malibu guesthouse pays complete homage to the styles). Says van der Slikke, "Personally, I love to mix contemporary paintings with Art Deco sculptures, and place Art Deco bookends on an antique table as the days of the 'total look' are over."
In terms of trends, van der Slikke notes, "Art Deco bronzes and bookends are very popular at the moment. They are easy to mingle in a modern, eclectic interior as well as in a more traditional decoration." And the designs immediately elevate a room to another level, pedigree wise.
If you are a collector or an aficionado, van der Slikke advises to "buy with the eye, as the best investment is one you enjoy every day." She also recommends good quality bronzes that are signed and in perfect condition along with the works of well-known French artists such as Bouraine, Le Faguays, Deschamps, Becquerel, Prost and Kelety whose pieces are highly collectible. And look for items made of ivory, gilt, silvered bronze and marble.
Whatever style or accessory you choose, Art Nouveau and Art Deco will always add glamour, elegance and a touch of modern to any décor.