Art Deco Architecture

Loved by Masses, Hated by Critics

Architecture was first and foremost considered to be decorative - ornamental and beautifying.

Buildings, hotels, cinemas, railway stations, etc. were all embellished with quintessential Deco patterns like zigzags, sunbursts, Egyptian motifs and similar geometric patterns all in the name of beauty.

  The Chrysler Building, New York - O ne of the most famous examples of Art Deco Architecture - Photo source:  tishmanspeyer.com

The Chrysler Building, New York - One of the most famous examples of Art Deco Architecture - Photo source: tishmanspeyer.com

Post-war society very quickly fell in love with the style, as it was a representation of all that was modern, luxurious and beautiful. The 1920s were a time of joy and hopefulness and the masses embraced this new look with open arms. It was symbolic of the strong economy and it inspired hope for a prosperous future.

Unfortunately, architectural purists and critics absolutely hated it! They "sneered at the...'modernistic' application of Art Deco ornament, which they saw as 'commercial.'" ( Benton, 2003) In essence they felt it was too much glitz and not enough substance.

 Art Deco Building Facade in Mumbai, Photo source: Aakriti Chandervanshi

Art Deco Building Facade in Mumbai, Photo source: Aakriti Chandervanshi

"More recently, however, architects and d critics have begun to re-evaluate the importance of the decorative in architecture, seeing it not only as a popular reflection of rapidly changing conditions but as a rich and profound expression of human feelings." (Benton, 2003) (I'm glad they have finally come to their senses!)

Architecture Characteristics

  • Streamlined, modern design
  • Angular, geometric patterns inlaid into facades:
    • Zigzags
    • Sunbursts
    • Chevrons
    • Sweeping curves
    • Egyptian motifs
    • Floral motifs
    • Bird motifs
    • Ziggurats (staggered or tiered pyramids)
  • Symmetrical, repeating patterns
  • Use of bold colours - specifically green, yellow, turquoise and ruby
  • Metallic accents - gold and silver
  • Inlaid stained glass - bold colouring
  • Liberal use of sleek-looking materials - stainless steel, aluminum, marble, glass
 Turquoise Bird Motif on Art Deco Building

Turquoise Bird Motif on Art Deco Building

Art Deco Buildings & Architecture Websites

If you would like more info on this topic, you must check out the following two blogs.  The guys who run them live and breath Art Deco Architecture!  They are the definitive go-to sources on Art Deco buildings and architecture on the web....

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