Welcome to RIBApix!
You have no items in your basket.
Close
Filters
Search

Art Deco Style Guide

Bold, brash and elegant. The Art Deco style encompassed furniture, textiles, ceramics, jewellery, sculpture and architecture.

Originally known as ‘Arts Decoratifs’ after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriel Modernes (International Exhibition of Modern and Industrial Decorative Arts) held in Paris in 1925, the term Art Deco was not coined until the 1960s.

Although the style lent itself well to interior decoration, architecturally there was a strong crossover with Modernism. This can be seen in the use of clean lines and minimal ornamentation, although married with simplified geometric shapes expressed in the form of zig-zags, chevrons and lightning bolts. An elegant style it became associated with glamour seen in buildings such as, hotels, bars, cinemas and luxury apartments. The colour and boldness of Art Deco also epitomised the lifestyle of the raffish set of socialites known as the ‘Bright Young Things’ depicted in Evelyn Waugh’s novel ‘Vile Bodies’.

In Europe, from the late 1920s the stricter tenets of the Modern Movement espoused by Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius begin to take hold and dominate the architecture. Moreover, the association with luxury and exclusivity became a frequent criticism amongst Modernists. They argued that excellent design should reach everyone and not be the preserve of the rich. Art Deco’s decorative nature was its undoing and the world events of 1939 were in keeping with a new sober reality, the party was over.

What to look for in a Art Deco building:

  • Streamlining
  • Bold shapes
  • Colour
  • Geometric designs
  • Decoration

Explore these galleries from the RIBA Collections illustrating the main features of Art Deco.

View as Grid List
Sort by

Design for patisserie kiosk, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925

RIBA4593
Chevalier, Georges
SOURCE: J. Mayor. Kiosques & pavillons urbains destines a l'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Paris, 1925), pl. 10

Design for a kiosk comprising a taxi telephone and a fountain, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925

RIBA6125
Andre, Pierre
SOURCE: J. Mayor. Kiosques & pavillons urbains destines a l'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Paris, 1925), pl. 19

North House, North Street, London: bathroom

RIBA15658
Hill, Oliver (1887-1968)

Gayfere House, Smith Square, London: bedroom

RIBA15659
Hill, Oliver (1887-1968)

Design for refreshments kiosk, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925

RIBA16397
Weiler, Edouard
SOURCE: J. Mayor. Kiosques & pavillons urbains destines a l'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (Paris, 1925), pl. 15

Jean Luce ceramics shop, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925

RIBA16399
Sezille, L. P.
SOURCE: L.-P. Sezille. Devantures de boutiques (Paris, 1927), pl. 3

Bedroom for a young girl, Ambassade Francaise, Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris 1925

RIBA16457
Gabriel, Rene
SOURCE: Une Ambassade Francaise (Paris, 1925), pl. XXVI NOTES: The Ambassade Francaise was organised by the Societe des Artistes Decorateurs and consisted of twenty-five rooms arranged around a three-sided court.

Daily Express Building, 120-129 Fleet Street, City of London: preliminary sketch for the interior decoration of the entrance hall

RIBA20368
Atkinson, Robert (1883-1952)
NOTES: Atkinson's scheme for the interior decoration of the entrance hall incorporates plaster reliefs of 'Industry' by the sculptor Eric Aumonier.

Stair carpet design for a housing scheme, Berlin-Lankwitz: orange colourway

RIBA21454
Herrmann, Frederick Henry (1898-1983)
NOTES: This design dates from 1928-1931.

Savoy Hotel, Strand, London: detail of the electric fireplace and mantelpiece of two toned mirrors with bracket supporting 'Kaspar the Cat' in the Pinafore Room

RIBA23740
Ionides, Basil (1884-1950)
NOTES: This was the ladies' reading room and redecoration by Ionides incorporated electric lighting from pink-tinted bowls and silver and steel furniture contrasting with the pinkish hue of the floor and ceiling.
Close
)
CLOSE