Art Deco Architecture .................. Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Furniture - Art Deco in Buffalo, NY
1925-1940

Proportions Small to medium.

Essential elements Bold geometric shapes based on traditional forms. Simplified geometric ornament.

Materials Pine or maple for less expensive lacquered or painted pieces; mahogany, walnut, or more exotic woods for finer examples. Sometimes metal or glass.

Notable forms Overstuffed armchair, sofa, and ottoman. Dining-room and kitchen sets. Side, coffee, and end tables. Beds. Other distinctive forms.

- Marvin D. Schwartz, American Furniture: Tables, Chairs, Sofas and Beds. 2000

The modern movement in furniture design began in the late 19th century with the emergence of the Arts and Crafts movement in England and Art Nouveau in France. During the 1920s, two important decorative styles evolved, Bauhaus and Art Deco, which reflect, in part, radical innovations in painting and sculpture.

Though it spread to other countries, Art Deco was a distinctively French response to the postwar demand for luxurious objects and fine craftsmanship. French designers utilized lavish materials and such rich, traditional decorative techniques as inlay and veneer on streamlined geometric forms.

The most advanced and inventive American Art Deco designs were developed by leading architects, interior decorators, and industrial designers. Large manufacturers and department stores helped acquaint the public with this streamlined style,which persisted in America well into the 1940s and was used for everything from overstuffed armchairs and sofas to kitchen and bedroom furnishings.

During the 1920s an 1930s large department stores, particularly in France (Au Printemps, Galerie Lafayete, Louvre and Au Bon Marche) and in America (R. H. Macy & Co. and Lord & Taylor), actively promoted and supported the Art Deco movement.

The other important trend in 20th-century decorative arts derived from the Bauhaus, a school of art and design founded in Germany in 1919.

Coffee, or cocktail, table: One new form, the coffee, or cocktail, table, was usually lacquered or topped by blue mirrored glass, a distinctively American type of decoration.

Art Moderne

Sometimes classified as the later phase of Art Deco.

Art Moderne is a horizontal design, emphasizing movement and sleekness; Art Deco emphasizes verticality and stylized, geometric ornamentation.

The style had a strong impact in America during the 1930s, but in a popularized version using less elegant materials and more dramatic forms. These designs often combined the sleek geometric shapes of French Art Deco with functional innovations and new materials such as the tubular steel that was an important part of Bauhaus design; such later variations are sometimes called Art Moderne.

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:


Photos and their arrangement © 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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