The Art Deco Architectural Style

I wrote an article recently that shared some of the basic history and characteristics of the most common styles of homes. It was such fun to research and write. In addition, I was flattered to find out that the interest in the topic spurred the GREEN folks to request write-ups on some additional styles of homes. I live in a smaller Midwest city, so of course that influences the types of architecture I see on a regular basis, but those of you who reside in large cities or small towns across the country might get the opportunity to see — or live in — many other styles of homes.

 

Poster for the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Elee46.

I decided to start with an architectural style with which I am very unfamiliar — Art Deco. I think this style is both striking and beautiful for many different reasons. However, we just don’t see these types of homes in my local region, so of course I was curious about them.

 

Let’s start with some background on the emergence of the Art Deco style home. This creative style has an influence in most American cities, not only on architecture, but fashion, art, and furniture design. While it has had a lasting impact, its heyday was short-lived, spanning from 1925-1940. The name Art Deco comes from an art show that was held in Paris in 1925 that was organized solely to display pieces that sparked inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Art Deco architecture in South Beach is one of the main tourist attractions in Miami, Florida.

While the popularity of Art Deco faded around 1940, it did have a pretty strong resurgence in the 1980s, primarily in Miami. South Beach hotels brought back a more colorful, vibrant version of Art Deco. Pastel-colored vacation homes and hotels popped up along the beautiful beaches of southern Florida, bringing with them a fancier version of Art Deco. They are just a bit softer in appearance than the originals and have been renovated and updated as the years have passed. Still, you can still see the strong Art Deco design and influence.

 

Now, what about its signature characteristics?

 

  • Bold exteriors: hard edges and lines, strong geometric shapes.
  • Patterns such as chevron, floral and sunrise are created with building materials.
  • Visible collaboration between architects, painters, and designers.
  • Typically features flat roof line and smooth walls.
  • A tower-like structure is positioned on a corner or at entrance of the home.
  • Built with stucco, concrete, stone, terracotta, steel, and aluminum.
  • Windows installed with decorative glass or glass blocks.
  • High gloss interiors that use a lot of black and white, chrome, concrete, mirrors, and neon.

 

It seems like this style of home would be quite costly to build or remodel, but I was surprised to learn that Art Deco actually lends itself to projects on a tight budget. The simple box design is efficient to build. Additionally, the front porch can be crafted very simply and then “jazzed up,” creating visual interest based on how bricks are laid or with the installation of canopies.

 

 

If you’d like to see a concentration of this style of home, look no further than our nation’s capital. Washington D.C. has a wealth of Art Deco buildings, over 400 actually, including residential, political/historical, and commercial.

 

The Empire State Building in Midtown, Manhattan, New York City.

The Chrysler Building in New York City.

Another city that has some iconic Art Deco buildings is New York City. Both the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building are considered Art Deco treasures. They are regarded as the most famous examples, of course. However, my Midwest friends don’t have to go that far, as the McGraw Hill Building in Chicago is another famous Art Deco structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will continue researching various architectural styles and include them in my posts. In the real estate industry, I think it is a tremendous asset to be knowledgeable about architecture and its history, especially if the market boasts these types of homes. Your clients will be impressed and appreciate the information. Until next time, have a great day!

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