A guide to Art Deco

Posted On: 24 Aug 2023 by Stephan Welz to Art Deco

Art Deco refers to a specific movement in which architecture, furniture and artworks were created in a particular style. In this guide, we explain everything you need to know about Art Deco including the time period it covers, the stylistic features of Art Deco works and popular antiques and collectibles from this period.

A guide to Art Deco

What time period does Art Deco cover?

The Art Deco movement emerged in the early 20th century. It reached its peak in popularity during the 1920’s and 1930’s and is generally associated with the time period between World War I and World War II. The Art Deco style is said to have originated in Paris and the term ‘Art Deco’ is derived from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes held in Paris, where the style was first exhibited and gained significant attention. However, Art Deco influences can be seen prior to this time.

Art Deco was a prominent design style in various art forms including visual arts, architecture, interior design, fashion and jewellery. Art Deco design was derived from modernist influences such as Cubism, Futurism and Neoplasticism.

What are the stylistic qualities of the Art Deco period?

Art Deco is iconic and visually striking in nature. Art Deco works often incorporate geometric shapes such as triangles, zigzags, chevrons and sunbursts and these can be seen in both decorative and architectural elements. Art Deco works are often simple, streamlined and pleasing to the eye. There is a focus on symmetry and smooth clean lines which embraced a sense of modernity and progress.

Art Deco celebrated luxury and opulence. As such, works from this period often incorporate high-quality and expensive materials such as glass, marble, lacquered surfaces, exotic woods and polished metals like chrome and stainless steel.

Decorative motifs are characteristic of Art Deco and works from this period often feature abstract patterns, stylised flora and fauna and Egyptian inspired symbols like pyramids and sphinxes. Another defining feature of Art Deco is the use of bold and contrasting colours to make a statement. This includes emerald greens, deep blues, vibrant reds and golden yellows alongside contrasting black and white combinations.

Finally, Art Deco works often reference ancient cultures such as Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. Elements of these historical styles can be seen in Art Deco pieces but reinterpreted and with a modern twist.

Examples of popular Art Deco antiques and collectibles

Many Art Deco works were mass produced which means there are lots of surviving objects today. This means there is plenty for collectors to enjoy and many pieces are often surprisingly affordable. Popular items include:


Furniture from the Art Deco period is extremely popular. Defining features of Art Deco furniture include heavy lacquer which gives a shiny, reflective look, rounded edges giving a waterfall look, exotic woods like ebony, maple and ash, geometric design, reflective materials like chrome and steel and marble and jewelled inlays.


Art Deco lighting fixtures combine elegance and geometric design. Popular pieces include chandeliers with glass or chrome accents, table lamps with geometric shades, and floor lamps with sculptural bases.


Art Deco clocks are known for their striking designs. Mantel clocks with bold, geometric shapes and chrome accents, often featuring contrasting colours, are highly desirable amongst collectors.

Ceramics and pottery

Art Deco ceramics and pottery display vibrant colours and stylised designs. Popular items include vases, bowls and figurines from renowned Art Deco ceramicists like Clarice Cliff, Susie Cooper, and Rene Lalique.


Art Deco sculptures often depict stylised figures, dancers, animals, or abstract forms. Bronze sculptures with clean lines and dynamic poses are particularly desirable amongst collectors.


Art Deco jewellery is characterised by geometric shapes, colourful gemstones and intricate metalwork. Pieces like diamond encrusted brooches, geometric pendants, cocktail rings and long pendant necklaces are highly collectable.

Decorative objects

Various decorative objects were produced during the Art Deco period, which are now popular amongst collectors. These include decorative boxes, figurines, bookends, and vases crafted from materials like glass, chrome, and ivory.


Radios from the Art Deco era were often housed in stylish wooden cabinets with intricate inlays or sleek chrome details. They represent a blend of technology and design and are popular amongst collectors today.

If you are a budding Art Deco collector, there are plenty of pieces in our upcoming auctions.

Author: Della Bentham