Art deco elements create a contemporary flap

Generally associated with the flapper style of the 1920s, art deco appeared as a reaction to the excitement of modern developments after World War I and flourished through the '30s and '40s. The art deco period was led by fashion; it was concerned less with functionality and more with creating a modern look that made the most of emerging industrial processes. Rich colors, zigzags and sharply angled and cubistic forms were commonly presented in high-gloss metals, black lacquer, exotic woods, leather and mirrors. Artistic and glamorous, art deco still influences contemporary geometric designs.

This painted door epitomizes art deco styling. It imitates the use of exotic woods and inlays common during the period; the rich colors and sharp angles were also popular then.

Zebra wood -- as seen in this angular kitchen -- was one of the rich new woods used during the art deco period, along with Macassar ebony.

Many of the materials and techniques used in this era led to high production costs, so art deco design was used more in public places, such as hotels, restaurants and even the famous luxury ocean liners of the day.

Stepped designs were also very popular, particularly in furniture; they mimicked the architecture of skyscrapers. This modern bathroom uses art deco inspiration by way of high gloss, the skyscraper design and the use of black. Beautiful!

Black and chrome were thought to reflect new technology, so the color combination was used often in art deco. This powder room displays all the glamour of the period.

Art Deco Borders

Art deco embraced its age of rapid industrialization. Strong zigzags emulated electricity and the sporadic nature of modern jazz. The zigzag and geometric designs of this era have been beautifully replicated in the borders shown here.

Geometric design has definitely enjoyed a revival. The rich colors and design of the flooring here would not have been out of place in the art deco age.

More geometric flooring in this eclectic room, in which high-gloss dark walls and leather chairs together with what looks like a tortoiseshell or veneer cabinet on the right. All very art deco.

A very modern take on art deco principles: clean, sharp angles, high-gloss metal and glass, and leather chairs.

And finally, a little tortoiseshell accessory that I adore. It gives the perfect glamorous art deco finishing touch.


Houzz is the leading online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish -- online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals around the world. Julie Pockett is a contributor to Houzz.

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