By the mid 1920’s, with the horrors of The War in the past, the world was ready for a new, fashionable “look.” Streamlined, modern, forward-looking, Art Deco was perfectly-suited to industrial mass production. And it was very popular. Everything from skyscrapers to toasters to automobiles were designed in the new, “machine age” fashion.
Whereas Arts & Crafts looked-backward, Art Deco looked straight ahead. And Deco enjoyed a nice, long run—from the mid-Twenties into the Sixties. Because Art Deco could easily be made by machine, it could be produced quickly, in large quantities, and affordably. Every home—upper-class, middle-class, working-class—probably had Art Deco-inspired objects within it. This explains why it’s so much easier to find period Art Deco than it is Arts & Crafts.
This does not mean that Art Deco was always inexpensive. Indeed, the best designers and artisans worked in the Art Deco aesthetic—Lalique, Cartier, Frank Lloyd Wright. And their prices were commensurate with their names. While handcraft could still play a part in the equation, luckily for the majority of folks, it didn’t have to. The Art Deco aesthetic could be produced in modern, industrial ways. This had the effect of “bringing good style to the masses.” An object as mundane as a steam iron could now be executed in a beautiful, Art Deco manner. Even its bakelite plug might have a handsome Art Deco motif on it.
The Art Deco period coincided with the inter-war building boom of skyscrapers, train stations, and other large, public spaces. Art Deco frieze work, lighting, and other decorative appointments brought a great sense of style and optimism to the public who worked in or traveled through these places.
In America—and specifically in Detroit—the shiny, hopeful Art Deco style was exploited to great effect. Think of the post WWII auto boom and all of those gigantic cars cruising down the street, their exaggerated tail fins slicing through the night air.
The mirror, pictured above, is French Art Deco.