Art Deco Furniture

Art Deco Furniture - Designer Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

Art Deco Style Furniture

Furniture of the 1920's and 1930's was the epitome of sexy!

Glamorous mirrors, glossy woods, slick metal finishes, lush leathers, jewel tones and exotic embellishments are all characteristic of Art Deco style furniture.

Vintage furniture is making a huge comeback and Art Deco sofas, tables, armoires and chairs are in hot demand today.  Here are the most common Art Deco Furniture Characteristics.


Characteristics of Art Deco Furniture

Mirrored Furniture

Art Deco style was at its height during the Roaring Twenties.  The economy was flourishing and society started taking an interest in luxury goods.  One of the most luxurious and glamorous investment would be mirrored furniture.

Coffee tables, dressing and vanity tables, dressers and all types of other furniture were being manufactured out of mirrors.  If that isn't glamour, I don't know what is!

Mirrored Art Deco Credenza / Cabinet by Ello after Pierre Cardin or Paul Evans - Image courtesy: 1stdibs.com

Exotic Wood

Ruhlmann and other premiere furniture designers of the Art Deco era specialized in furniture made of rich, exotic woods. The rarer the wood, the better.

Violetwood, Ambonyna burl, Macassar ebony and mahogany were some of the most coveted of all.

Art Deco Macassar Ebony Sideboard - Image courtesy: Liveauctioneers.com

Lacquer

And for added glamour, the woods would be treated with a high-gloss lacquer finish.  This gave the pieces a very rich and sleek look.  This is typical of Art Deco style.

Less expensive woods were used as well - maple, oak and ash for example.  To give the woods that rich, slick look, several coats of lacquer would be slathered on top.

Rare French Art Deco Daybed - Highgloss Black Piano Lacquer - Image courtesy: 1stdibs.com

Wood Inlay

Wood inlay was a very popular furniture style during the Art Deco era.  This style can be seen in classic Art Deco sofas and armchairs.

 

Marquetry

Another popular style was marquetry, "the craft of covering a structural carcass with pieces of veneer forming decorative patterns, designs or pictures." (Wikipedia).  Dressers, armoires and dining tables would be embellished with this type of craft.

Typical Art Deco marquetry patterns were very geometric in shape - for example, zig-zags, sunbursts and chevrons.

Andre Leleu Art Deco Rosewood Marquetry Sideboard - Image courtesy: 1stdibs.com

Metal

The 1920's are commonly referred to as the Machine Age. This is when industry and manufacturing saw a huge boom.

Factories started pumping out products at lightning speed.  The rise of sophisticated machinery allowed for mass manufacturing of all types of goods...planes, trains, automobiles and a multitude of other common every-day products like radios, refrigerators, lamps, etc.

So it's only natural that furniture would also have a 'futuristic-machine' aesthetic. This was most easily achieved by using metal accents and finishes.

Art Deco Chrome and Wood Rolling Liquor Cabinet - Image courtesy: Artdecocollection.com

Leather

To keep with the theme of luxury and glamour, only the most buttery-soft, rich leathers were used for furniture.  Armchairs, sofas and ottomans were upholstered in the finest leathers.  Typical colours were black, brown and tan.

However, the leathers would also be dyed in super bold Art Deco colours like cherry red and tangerine orange. The Roaring 20's were a time of great prosperity and happiness, so sunny, bright colors came into fashion.  These colors reflected the overall cheerful spirit of the times.

Art Deco Swivel Leather Armchairs in the Taste of Paul Dupré-Lafon, circa 1930 - Image courtesy: 1stdibs.com

Luxurious embellishments

Another furniture trend that arose during the Art Deco era was luxury embellishment.

Art Deco furniture pieces would have added accents of luxurious stones, quartz and jewels.  Some of the more popular accents were onyx, jade, ivory and murano glass.

Interior accent pieces like lamps, chandelierswall clocks and radios would contain elements such as these as well.  All of the pieces together would create a very rich, modern and overall luxurious look.

Desk by French furniture designer Léon Jallot - Chinese lacquered solid oak with a shagreen mosaic desk top, ivory drawer pulls and feet clad in silver-toned bronze. Image courtesy: Objectsnotpaintings.com

Tips For Finding and Buying Art Deco Style Furniture

Auctions

The fastest and easiest way to find authentic Art Deco furniture from the 1920's is to do a search on online luxury furniture auction sites like 1stdibs, Sotheby's and Christie's.  Be prepared to pay a pretty penny though.  Genuine Art Deco furniture can be quite pricey.  This Eileen Gray Art Deco "Dragons" Chair sold for $28 million at an auction in 2009!!

Eileen Gray Art Deco "Dragons" Chair, 1919

Online Classifieds

Other good places to look would be sites like Ebay, Craigslist and Kijiji.  You never know what people might have in their storage rooms...and you know what they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure.  And the benefit of going this route is that you can usually bargain with the seller.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Kijiji.  I scored this 1920's Art Deco mirrored vanity for $100!  The lovely lady who sold it to me said it belonged to her great aunt who shipped it from England to Canada over 100 years ago.  With some craft supplies and a little elbow grease, my brother and I refinished it in an afternoon and I'm proud to say it gets a ton of compliments! ;)

Antique Stores

Once you've exhausted your online search, you could scour antique and vintage stores in your area.  Look up antique furniture dealers in your local directory and give them a call to see who might specialize in Art Deco furniture. These people are usually a wealth of information.

And even if they don't have what you're looking for, they'll at least be able to steer you in the right direction.

Furniture Retailers

If you're still at a loss, check local furniture stores in your city.  They may not be carrying authentic pieces, but Art Deco furniture reproductions are quite beautiful nevertheless.  And you may be able to achieve that high-end Deco look at a fraction of the price.

Hope that helps!

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