Examining Art Deco Wallpaper and Its Retro Influence

Geometric shapes were popular Art Deco designs

Art Deco wallpaper can be found online. In addition to reproductions, a few stores have vintage wallpaper for sale.

Art Deco Wallpaper: Historical Examples

Historical samples of wallpaper from the Art Deco period can be found in many restored buildings as well as interior photographs taken from the 1920s through the 1940s.

Well-Known Art Deco Architecture:

  • Chrysler Building, New York, NY
  • Easter Columbia Building, Los Angeles, CA
  • Empire State Building, New York, NY
  • Fisher Building, Detroit, MI
  • Guardian Building, Detroit MI
  • Union Station, Omaha, NE

Art Deco Movement

The Art Deco movement was most popular during the mid to late 1920s, although it did continue until the mid-1940s. This eclectic style was unique because it was a mixture of several art styles. Unlike other artforms and movements, Art Deco wasn't the product of political or social change. It was strictly the result of the expression of art. Many of the art movements that influenced Art Deco, however, were the result of political changes.

  • Art Nouveau
  • Constructivism
  • Cubism
  • Futurism
  • Modernism
  • Neoclassical

The Society of the Decorator Artists

The inspiration for the birth of Art Deco has been attributed to the 1900 Universal Exposition, or more aptly, several French artists, who later formed The Society of the Decorator Artists. Paris quickly became the hub of Art Deco. Some of the society's members were well-known artists, who influenced and inspired the basic fundamentals and principles of Art Deco. Artists, architects, interior designers, furniture designers, and decorative artists were drawn to this new exciting artfrom. Many of the motifs and symbols these artists created were repeated in wallpaper designs.

  • Cartier, king of clocks and jewelry
  • Edgar Brandt, known metalwork, specifically wrought iron
  • Eileen Gray, specialized in screens
  • Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, renowned furniture designer
  • Eugène Graset, best known for his graphic art
  • Hector Guimard, metal ornamental entrances to Paris Metro Stations
  • Jean Dunand, excelled in lacquer art
  • Jean-Jacques Rateau, famous interior designer
  • Maurice Dufrene, chief designer at La Maison Moderne, designed wallpaper friezes
  • Maurice Marinot, unique glasswork, also paintings
  • Paul Follot, crafts designer and interior designer, silver, bronze jewelry and textiles
  • Raoul Lachenal, ceramics and stoneware
  • Rene Lalique, glass designer known for exquisite designs

Mechanics of Art Deco

To understand Art Deco you must first understand the world that helped form it. The 1920s was known as the Machine age and the emergence of modern technology. The burst of industry greatly influenced Art Deco that reflected the mathematical and geometric aspects of this new world through various shapes. To contrast with this high-technology, art styles dubbed as primitive artforms were often combined with the modern ones such as Aztec, Egyptian and African as well as motifs and ideas from other art movements. By joining contrasting artforms as a single design, dramatic art came to life.

Art Deco: Popular Wallpaper Motifs

Many of the popular motifs found in Art Deco were repeated in the period's wallpapers.

Some of these motifs included:

  • Chevrons
  • Egyptian symbols
  • Geometric shapes
  • Mixed shapes and sizes
  • Sunbursts
  • Trapezoid shapes
  • Zigzag designs

Importance of Color

As with all design, color is a driving component and was used to accent and enhance the various motifs, symbols and shapes of Art Deco. Color contrasts were used and repeated the theme of combining opposites or unexpected color pairs, much like the combining of design elements and materials.

Some Popular Dramatic Art Deco Colors Combinations:

  • Black and Blue
  • Black and Green
  • Black and Pink
  • Black and Red
  • Black and White
  • Black and Gray
  • Bronze and Blue
  • Gold and Red
  • Orange and Blue
  • Red and Green
  • Silver and Blue
  • Yellow and Purple

These are just a few of the often found color combinations, but there were many more. Bold and dramatic pieces were created in vibrant colors. Artists also played with monochromatic color schemes and this was often found in wallpapers of the period.

Textured Wallpaper

New techniques were applied to bring texture to wallpapers such a flocked and metallic. Animal prints were also popular choices mixed with unusual colors such as bright pink or mint green. Zebra and leopard prints were often found in fabrics and even wallpapers.

Locating Vintage and Reproduction Wallpapers

Surprisingly, there are several companies that sell authentic vintage wallpapers. You can also find reproductions mixed in with a wide variety of new and reproductions.

Vintage Wallpapers:

Reproduction Wallpapers:

Wallpapers in Art Deco Style

Using an Art Deco wallpaper in your home can tie your design together and give it a feeling of authenticity.

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Examining Art Deco Wallpaper and Its Retro Influence