Is Art Deco the Next Mid-Century Modern?
The style is making a huge comeback.
Published Sep 18, 2017 4:00 PM
Visionary designers are reimagining Art Deco for the digital era—whether a nod to 1980s excess, the simple desire for beauty in these trying times, or (one suspects) the maximal look seen on the runways, the Gilded Era has never felt as relevant as it does right now.
“It’s been heading here for a while, but the wave has crested. This year, form and function took a backseat to decoration,” says David Alhadeff, founder of The Future Perfect, who sells work byDimore Studio
and other high-profile champions of the aesthetic through his New York store.
That’s not to say that handmade or craft-based work has fallen out of vogue: Designers are still employing traditional methods as they always have, but their point of reference—glamorous details, jewel-toned palettes, and luxe-looking materials like marble and brass—has notably shifted to Deco. From daybeds and pendants to lamp shades and chairs, these pieces are all about evoking a mood—the sense of attainable luxury.
Some may credit Dimore Studio, with its Instagram-friendly installations and remarkable use of color, for launching the trend. However, it’s evident elsewhere as well— in the bold, streamlined shapes designers are melding with Deco motifs, Paris’ dramatic, 45-room Nolinski hotel designed by Jean-Louis Deniot, and the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 Cabriolet concept car, unveiled by the German manufacturer in August. With so many inspiring designs to choose from, here’s your guide to the best and brightest.
“My design shows who I am as a collage of my experience and affinities,” says Los Angeles designer Shin Okuda. “My Japanese values, a sense of home, a curiosity in architecture, and a wide appreciation for many moments of design.” One of those designs? Art Deco.
Each piece from his recent Waka Waka project of handmade wood furniture has the sleek, symmetrical quality typical of Art Deco. The cylinder back arm chair, in particular, feels like a distant relative of the club chair.
Cylinder Back Arm Chair, available at WAKA WAKA.
For Spanish designer Ana Hernández, Art Deco has proven to be a “big source of inspiration”—particularly in 2015, when her Valencia consultancy, Masquespacio, was tasked with reinventing four pendants for the Barcelona lighting brand Raco. A nod to Mediterranean light, her Shade lamp employs marble and brass, along with raffia and leather—two surprising materials in overhead lights—for an updated take on Streamline Moderne.
Shade lamp, available at Masquespacio.
No collection by Francis Sultana would be complete without a daybed—“It is a key shape from the Art Deco period,” explains the London interior designer—and it’s a reference he turns to constantly. So, while reimagining an Armand-Albert Rateau banquette (made in the 1920s for a Spanish aristocrat) for his Narmina collection launching this fall, he made sure to include two leisurely chaises—Victoire, “in a sumptuous amber mohair velvet,” and Narmina, with a sea-green tweed inspired by Coco Chanel.
Victoire & Narmina Daybeds, available at Francis Sultana.
Chain, Chain, Chain
Gatsby flappers spurred Montreal designer Audrée Larose to create her Otero Chandelier. A true work of art, it radiates light from two copper rings, which stream through the chains to “create a magical atmosphere.” The handcrafted copper chains are so delicate, they tremble like feathers whenever they’re touched.
Otero Chandelier, available at Larose Guyon.
“Geometry, symmetry, glamour, and luxury”—all of which conjure visions of Art Deco furnishings—were at the forefront of Gloria Cortina’s mind when she conceived her Synergy bench. She tells Domino, “For me, design is all about simplifying form, streamlining it, and fitting it to suit function—lines and slick curves, that’s all I see.” Like an exquisite strand of jewelry, the brass-and-nickel bench is a showstopper.
Synergy, available at Cristina Grajales.
While it may look like a modern version of a historical lamp, designer Oliver Pelle makes sure to note that’s not what the Silver Veil is: “It looks to the present, as well as the past,” he says.
Jewelry maker Russell Whitmore of Brooklyn antiques dealer Erie Basin lent his expertise, while Pelle approached the design from a “modern sensibility”—selecting materials for their associations. From the green dimmer dial to the dazzling beaded chain, Pelle says, “We were very aware of the Art Deco feel” by the end of the process.
Silver Veil Lamp, available at Pelle Designs.