Deco styles making a strong comeback

April 19, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

I think it's curious that art deco should be making such a strong comeback in these recessionary times. After all, this 1920s style, despite its sparseness of line, has always been associated with luxury.

Today, deco in its original form is clearly a favorite of high-style interior designers. And we also see deco-type designs, with a few changes in proportion, emerging as a hybrid contemporary look.

Art deco could never be described as pretty, in my opinion, but like a good black dress, a properly executed deco piece can fit in almost anywhere. Art deco tables, cabinets and chairs are also showing up in some traditional settings, in keeping with the current preference for eclectic designs.

The use of art deco in a classical interior actually does not seem so novel or unorthodox. Even in the '20s, deco was linked with superior craftsmanship and elegant motifs, in contrast to the more austere Bauhaus international style, which was enthusiastically adopted by the modernist avant-garde.

Thanks to technological advances in the manufacturing and finishing of furniture, it is now possible to acquire excellent contemporary reproductions of deco originals. The photo shows one such example, a console produced by Mastercraft.

With its sculptural lines reminiscent of African design, this piece is readily recognizable as deco-derived. Artifacts from Africa were one of the many non-European sources of inspiration for the pioneers of art deco. The sharkskin-textured inset on this console, as well as its lacquered base, is likewise very much in the spirit of the original art deco movement. In the '20s, such materials and finishes would have been worked by an individual craftsman, but now they are shaped and applied in the course of a high-tech manufacturing process.

Even though their lines are relatively simple, deco pieces are obviously a lot more exotic than what's found in the local furniture store. And if this look intrigues you but is not entirely to your taste, a single deco piece can make a fine accent.

A table placed between two chairs would be one possibility, as would a deco-style coffee table. Colors can range from bleached woods to black lacquer. Add a metallic or faux finish, and an art deco accent piece can become a genuine show-stopper.

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