The name Art Deco is an abbreviation of the international exhibition "L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriëls Modernes" which was held in Paris in 1925. This is where the new visual language was first shown to an international audience. While the style originated in Paris, the Art Deco movement existed all around the world. It peaked in the 1920s and 1930s (this period is also called the 'Roaring Twenties') and the movement can be divided into two separate varieties.
Firstly, there are the valuable, smooth designs which were made from natural, sometimes exotic, materials. It can also be called traditional Art Deco because the designers prefered details and techniques from the past.
The second movement is usually called modern Art Deco, even though its products are often seen as part of steel (pipe) furniture, the Bauhaus and the Style movement. This is because 'modernists' rejected all shapes and techniques from the past. The smooth simple furniture is generally made from modern materials such as steel pipes, chromed steel or laminated wood. Famous architects, such as the Scottish C.R. Mackintosh and the American architect F.L. Wright, formed the basis of Art Deco with their visual language. However, there is also a clear influence of African art and cubist paintings. The stylized and often geometrical motifs find their origin in the previously mentioned art movements.
The vivid colours of the Art Deco style might have been based on the decors and costumes that were used in the Russian ballet. The latter was a true sensation in Paris from 1909 onwards. Artistic leader Serge Diaghilev only wanted to use bright primary colours that would contrast one another such as red, black, gold, silver, green, orange or turquoise. An absolute highlight in the Art Deco period was the 1928 Chrysler building in New York. Even its interior decoration was designed to match the same style and this creates an ensemble where everything matches; even the tiniest details.
Famous Furniture Designers:
The most gifted French Art Deco designer was Jacques Emile Rühlemann (1879-1933). The furniture that made Rühlemann famous characterises itself by the incorporation of expensive materials such as ivory, pearl and exotic kinds of wood. It is clear that only wealthy people could afford this furniture. The Irish Eileen Gray (1878-1976) is also a noteworthy designer who is mostly known for her steel pipe furniture nowadays.
Art Deco in the Netherlands:
Even the Dutch version of Art Deco had two seperate movements. The 'decorative' movement is called "Amsterdam School" by people in the architectural and furniture art industry. The term also covers the fanciful architecture that originated in Amsterdam and that quickly had many followers. Even outside of Amsterdam. The functional businesslike movement is usually called "Hague School".
The Amsterdam school movement sets itself apart by displaying an excess of shapes that often features the parabola and the trapezium. A good example of an Art Deco interior is the Tuschinski theatre in Amsterdam and the Scheepvaarthuis. The most representative furniture of the Amsterdam School movement was designed by the triple-K trio, namely, Michel de Klerk (1884-1923), Piet Kramer (1881-1961) and Hildo Knop (1884-1970). The furniture was big, exclusive and eccentric; it was meant for the wealthy elite. 't Woonhuys was a famous studio in Amsterdam where the most extravagant pieces of furniture could be purchased.
The Hague School is the name of a group of designers that generally lived and worked in The Hague. They mostly busied themselves with interior and furniture designs and they represented the businesslike, functional side of Art Deco. Many considered their furniture and interiors to be very modern. The designers of Hague School thought that the practical side of furniture was more important than its shape. This is why their furniture sets itself apart by simple, firm contours and straight lines. The pieces are usually made of indigenous kinds of wood such as oak, ash and elm that have been finished, stained or painted in a clear colour. The most important representatives of this movement are Cornelis Louis Alons (1892-1967), Frits Spanjaard (1889-1978), Cornelis van der Sluys (1881-1944) and Hendrik Wouda (1885-1946).