Perhaps it is the mesmerising endurance of iconic structures such as London’s Senate House Library, New York’s quirky General Electric Building and the imposing Chrysler Building. Or perhaps it’s the fact that the materials that originally made the trend so evocative – ebony, jade, onyx, and marble – have never lost their exquisite appeal. Whatever it is, Arts Décoratifs, more commonly known as Art Deco, continues to be one of the most sought after design trends. But what does it really take to create the iconic look? Unsurprisingly, stone and porcelain play a prominent role.
Although Art Deco is really a group of many different approaches, one common feature is the celebration of ornamental geometry. In order to escape the aesthetic indulgence that modernists felt had plagued the late nineteenth century, Deco typically embraces only the purest compositional elements: squares, triangles, lines. This type of design was frequently set into stone walls, floors, and furniture.
Figure 1: An example of Art Deco geometry https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk
Everything about this approach makes a bold statement, and the trend for recreating the effect in porcelain is now very popular. Careful choice of colouring and positioning can enable the geometric purity of the Deco style without excessive use of gold and rare stones.
Although Art Deco design was simple compared to Art Nuevo and other decorative trends, the style indulged in other ways. This was particularly so in the use of materials that were – for the time – highly extravagant. Rare coloured marbles, such as Verde Guatemala (‘Indian Green’), were used everywhere from doorways, to fireplaces, to staircases.
Figure 2: A Kinorigo Project: Marble Bianco Lilac polished and Grigio Carnico polished residential bathroom.
This Deco approach can be easily applied by 21st century designers. Contrasting vivid marbles with clean, white spaces results in an aesthetic that is less ostentatious but no less striking. This can be done with the original stone, or with porcelain equivalents.
Figure 3: www.maisonvalentina.net
The Art Deco style often relies on a careful use of lighting. With its emergence at a time when gas lamps and sparse electricity were the primary methods of illumination, the interplay of shadow and colour commanded a crucial role.
Lighting is used to create smoky, sultry tones that allow rare stones to gleam with an atmospheric darkness, as the image below shows.
Figure 4: Art Deco lighting used to create atmospheric darkness: http://lighttalk.via-verlag.com/
In our halogen world, intrepid designers have taken this theme one step further. Dramatic backlit onyx is an Art Deco dream that shows the innate beauty of the stone through a brooding glow.
Figure 5: www.houzz.com
It is unsurprising that 21st century architects are taking this remarkable combination of rare stone and safe LED lighting along its natural trajectory. When backlit, labradorite, quartz, and malachite all have a visual intensity that would have made Deco pioneers swoon.
Few design movements have embraced stone in quite the way that Art Deco has done. That this most timeless of materials is so closely associated with one of the most elegant and beloved styles is no coincidence. Statements of quality, luxury, and clean design will never grow old. If you would like to see Kinorigo’s range of outstanding stone and porcelain, please make an appointment to visit our London showroom. Call 024 7642 2580 to find out more.