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Art Deco’s timeless allure

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The style is hot property for those who enjoy opulence, glamour and a sense of fun and pizzazz

Art Deco, a movement established between two world wars, is almost 100 years old yet still retains its appeal. 

Collectors, architects, and decorators say they have seen a third wave of interest in the era that, in its time of the roaring 20s and 30s, influenced all forms of art. 

Holyrood apartment building in Cape Town. Picture: Supplied

Today pieces of Art Deco – whether it be in furniture, homeware accessories or costume jewellery and vintage clothing – are hot property among those who enjoy its opulence, boldness, glamour and sense of fun. 

Most antique dealers will have something from that period – whether it’s a classic drinks cabinet, a cocktail shaker or a decadent boudoir screen. Some go a step further by adding 1920s wedding dresses, costume jewellery and accessories to Art Deco lounge suites, lamps, mirrors and masks, bronzes and art nouveau boudoir accessories. 

This was an era of decadence, glamour and jazz. Picture: Supplied

Investment quality glass also came into its own in this era and can span a wide range of periods and styles – from the elegance of Galle, Daum, Lalique, Loetz and Tiffany to the more modern Italian Murano and the ever-popular Scandinavian glass. 

Art Deco “was the last great decorative movement”, believes architect Robert Silke, who has restored a number of spaces to their former Art Deco glory, including Holyrood and Waalburg buildings in Cape Town, and who lives in a restored Art Deco apartment in Holyrood. 

This was an era of decadence, glamour and jazz. Picture: Supplied

The era is known as functional and modern with its geometric and streamlined furniture and lovely curved fronts, mirrors, glass and clean lines. Graphic artwork also originated in the 20s and 30s meaning that typography became geometrical and modern and fitted in well with the style of Art Deco. 

Interior designers believe you can still have a modern theme in your home by mixing in some Art Deco pieces, such as glassware or ornaments, you can make an eclectic and interesting interior.

The Chrysler Building. Picture: Supplied

A brief history of the style 

The Roaring 20s: Architects and designers adopt the Art Deco style. 
The Great Depression of the early 1930s: The trend continues through the years leading up to World War II.
Late 1930s into the 1940s: Disappears as seen as too gaudy and ostentatious for wartime austerity. 
1960s: Pop Art sees a resurgence of Art Deco. 
1980s/90s: Second revival with graphic designers helping it reappear in jewellery and fashion ads. 
2015: Renaissance of the era among a younger generation.

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