Art Deco Architecture: Buildings that Illuminate This Brilliant Style

Art Deco architecture flourished throughout the world between the years of the World Wars. Art Deco is one of the first true international styles. You can find prominent examples of Art Deco buildings from India to the United States.

Art Deco architecture stemmed from design ideas of the previous era, Art Nouveau, but it was also distinct from them. The views of the Art Deco era reflected a newfound hope for the future and the need to look forward and not back. The Art Deco style reflects confidence, vigor, and optimism with the innovative use of new materials and design techniques.

What is Art Deco Architecture?

What is Art Deco Architecture?

Art Deco architecture was the building design manifestation of the broader artistic movement of the same name. The beginnings of Art Deco architecture can be seen in the works of Josef Hoffman and Auguste Perret in the early 1900s in Vienna and Paris.

Art Deco, as a defined style, took shape in 1925 after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.

The Art Deco movement was a mix of different styles. These included the natural world motifs popular in the preceding Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles, the geometric forms popular in Cubism, and the bold colors of Fauvism. Above all, it was a celebration of modernity and machinery, both a sign of progress after the devastation of World War I.

Art Deco art forms made their way into designs at every level of human life, from fine art and architecture to industrial design and household objects.

Art Deco architecture, like other forms of applied Art Deco design, combines craftsmanship with gorgeous designs and materials. The combination was embraced by architects throughout the world. Also, like the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau, designers paid special attention to interior and exterior spaces. It was not just a “gallery” art form but a cohesive design style for textiles, metalwork, furniture, and wallpaper.

The End and Legacy of the Art Deco Movement

Art Deco was the dominant design style from 1925-1940. It became more streamlined during the 1930s and the Great Depression. The new type of Art Deco became known as Streamline Moderne. The Art Deco style fell out of fashion after the end of World War II.

Art historians understand that design themes are cyclical. According to some trend forecasters, Art Deco style is primed for a revival. It echoes themes of hope when the world seems gloomy. It signifies comfort and chic that is attractive in days of uncertainty.

Art Deco Architecture Elements

  • Geometric Ornamentation – Geometric detailing for ornate embellishment like repeating, vertical, and harmonious shapes and lines
  • Stylized Natural Motifs – The use of repeating motifs, including stylized flowers, plants, animals, and the female form but using more rectangular shapes.
  • Global Influences – Decorative elements taken from other traditions. These include Japanese woodcuts, Russian ballet, folk art, and ancient traditions like Egyptian and Mesopotamian.
  • Innovative Materials – Building material consistent with modernity, like stucco, glass, chrome, steel, plastics, and aluminum
  • Luxury Materials – Exotic natural materials such as rock crystal, obsidian, ivory, and jade used for decoration and furniture
  • Cohesive Spaces – Attention paid to the cohesion of interior and exterior spaces
  • Colors – Bold color to highlight contrast
  • Dramatic Architectural Features – Spires and parapets to increase the look of glamor and ascension

Global Examples of Art Deco Architecture

Art Deco is a style that takes on the characteristics of different locations based on their local design style. We have gathered some global Art Deco architecture examples. These buildings’ designs vary significantly based on their geographic location.

The Chrysler Building – New York City

The Chrysler Building - New York City

William Van Allen and William Reynolds designed the Chrysler Building, which builders completed in 1930. The building stands 1048 feet high.

The ornamentation includes the terraced crown top and stainless steel cladding. It also consists of a lush and colorful interior. The interior and exterior design make it one of the most famous examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.

New India Assurance Building – Mumbai, India

New India Assurance Building - Mumbai, India

Master, Sarhe, and Brute designed the New India Assurance Building. Builders completed construction in 1936.

The structure features reinforced concrete, a building material common in Art Deco design. The outer facade has strong vertical ribs with stylized classical and folk features. Experts have named these unique decorations and others like it “domestic art deco” or “Bombay deco.”

Fairmont Peace Hotel – Shanghai, China

Fairmont Peace Hotel - Shanghai, China

The Fairmont Peace Hotel, which used to go by the names the Cathay Hotel and the Peace Hotel, stands in the busy city of Shanghai. Victor Sassoon, a British businessman, commissioned the hotel. The building was completed in 1929.

The lobby features luxurious materials, decorative geometric shapes, and stained glass. These signify its glorious Art Deco roots.

Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building, New York

The Empire State Building is a skyscraper that decorates the New York City landscape, completed in 1931. At 1251 feet and with the addition of a 222-foot antenna in 1950, it remained the tallest building in the world until 1971.

The architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates designed this skyscraper as an Art Deco building. Many know the interior lobby for its Art Deco design.

Palais De Chaillot – Paris, France

Palais De Chaillot - Paris, France

The Palais de Chaillot is located in the Trocadero Gardens, just across the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Architects Louis-Hippolyte Boileau, Jacques Carlu, and Leon Azema designed the building for the 1937 International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques Applied to Modern Life.

The interior of the building houses the Theatre national de Chaillot and features gilded molding, geometric flooring, and colorful murals in keeping with the Art Deco style.