Art Deco, also called Moderne or Modernistic, is the first style in the United States to break away from traditional revivalist and period houses. The style is inspired by the machine age of the late 1920s and refuses to reinvent past styles in favor of the future – designing forward, if you will.
As expected from a style inspired by machines, Art Deco motifs and ornamentation are often geometric and match the transportation and new appliances of the day. Floral motifs are updated with a highly-stylized design that gives them a more modern and futuristic look. Metals, smooth-faced stone, concrete and glass are characteristic materials of the style.
Many historians look to New York for examples of Art Deco – the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center are both replete with Art Deco ornaments and material choices. Can homes have Art Deco flair as well? Absolutely. Take a look at some examples below.
The Melrose Theatre building and retail shopping center were originally built in 1940. As much of the original building as possible was saved during this movie theater turned multifamily housing adaptive reuse project.
The Shed at Midtown, a community facility in Colorado, bears some resemblance to Art Deco as well. Vertical metal elements are reminiscent of machines of the 1920s and 1930s, and glass and metal material choices lend the building to what would have been futuristic at the height of the style.
Alexandra Isham is the Design Program Manager at NAHB.