The Origins of Art Deco

Art Deco first appeared in France after WWI and flourished in popularity worldwide in the 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned post World War II. It is an influential, eclectic style which combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. Art Deco style is typically characterised by the use of rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

The Art Deco movement emerged during the Interwar period when rapid industrialisation was transforming culture and society throughout the world. It represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and faith in technological progress. Art Deco's technological influence clearly differentiates it from its predecessor Art Nouveau, which favoured organic motifs inspired by nature.

During its heyday Art Deco influenced the design of everything from automobiles and electronic items to textiles and jewellery. Art Deco jewellery was produced between 1915 and 1935 and is heavily characterised by geometric designs, abstract patterns and diverse combinations of bold colours. The jewellery of the era also took great influence from Cubism, as well as African, Oriental and Persian designs.

Many modern materials were introduced during the 1920s and 1930s including plastics and aluminium which were incorporated into jewellery designs. It was during the Art Deco period that Coco Chanel first introduced costume jewellery to complete a costume or outfit. This costume jewellery was characterised by harsh geometric lines and symmetry which replaced the free-flowing curves of Art Nouveau. Long pendants, bangles and cocktail rings were abundant, as were elaborate accessories like cigarette cases and holders.