The Art Deco movement "coalesced" at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industiels Modernes in Paris in 1925. Technically, it was a seven month World's Fair designed by the French Government to promote the new Style Moderne in the decorative arts: interior design, furniture and home furnishings, glass and metalwork, ceramics, carpets and textiles and any other form of decorative art which expressed Modernism (rather than historicism). 15,000 manufacturers from 20 different countries exhibited their creations and 16 million visitors walked the halls to view the latest in art and design.
Paris was well known for its periodic "salons" but these were traditionally restricted to the so-called "fine arts": painting and sculpture. The 1925 exposition was created to elevate the decorative and applied arts—which many people (myself included) consider just as important and beautiful as the "fine" arts.
The new, Modernist aesthetic was initially called "Le Style Moderne." In time, the movement was re-named "Art Deco," a reference to the name of the 1925 exposition.
The Art Deco movement was immediate and huge. Art Deco was the type of approachable Modernism which the general public understood. It was streamlined and forward-looking—suggesting optimism about a bold, new future. And Art Deco (unlike the Arts & Crafts or Art Nouveau Movements), lent itself to mass-production methods, thus lowering production costs and increasing accessibility for an ever-growing middle class. The Art Deco style worked itself into every aspect of design—from the sensational (like the Chrysler Building) to the mundane (like toaster plugs).
Art Deco "started" in 1925, grew throughout the 1930's, slowed-down a bit during World War II, and continued for another decade after the War (note the rocket-like tail fins on cars of the 1950's).
The 18 karat gold English Art Deco cufflinks, shown above, were hallmarked in Birmingham in 1928. This was a short three years after the Art Deco Exposition opened in 1925—and is an example of how quickly the movement spread throughout the world. Click on the photo above to learn more about these cufflinks.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248