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Design History: Celebrating 100 Years of Art Deco Design

Art Deco is an iconic design style that showed up on the scene in the early 1900s. A bit over-the-top, it’s known for its use of luxurious materials and geometric patterns. This style originated in France (one more reason to love it), then spread throughout Europe and America in the 1920s. And that’s when this style became an icon.

art deco design

Art Deco combines modern styles with high-end craftsmanship and luxurious materials. It celebrates symmetry and rectilinear forms through vertical lines, streamlined surfaces, and stepped and jagged geometry. Much more than just an interior design style, Art Deco influenced the design of whole buildings, as well as automobiles, jewelry, fashion, and so much more. There are some beautiful and iconic examples of Art Deco architecture—including famous edifices like the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, and the Bullocks Wilshire building in LA.

The entrance to the Strand Palace Hotel, designed by Oliver P. Bernard in 1930.

What influenced the Art Deco design movement?

The 1920s was a decade of opulence and advancement. The United States economy was booming, technological advances were on the rise, and culture was in the throes of the jazz age. Art Deco reflected the luxury, wealth, and excess of the 1920s. (Think: The Great Gatsby.)

As America moved into the Great Depression after the market crash in 1929, the movement became a symbol of hope for the future. During this era, Hollywood films exemplified the Art Deco style and continued to strengthen its associations with wealth, luxury, and the prosperous future.

In the United States, Art Deco style was mostly used in civic and public buildings, as you can see from some of our favorites above. Meanwhile, residential land owners were slower to invest in new styles, so you won’t see this style as much in residential buildings.

Art Deco declined as a trend around the time of WWII, as Americans favored practicality and reserve over opulence and excess. And the postwar era continued to support more practical, everyday designs, which ultimately lead toward the Mid-Century Modern design movement.

Image source Architectural Digest

Art Deco in the 80s

The 1980s was another period of wealth in America, and Art Deco reemerged as a popular design style. During the 80s, there was a love for gold and luxurious (or at least luxurious-looking) materials, as well as the reinterpretation of Art Deco patterns. This showed up in architecture and interior design, but in 80s fashion and jewelry you can also see the geometric and angular designs of 1920s Art Deco.

Art Deco Today

Today, we continue to see our culture pulling from the past for design inspiration and mixing in different eras in an eclectic way. With that, we’re seeing another embrace of Art Deco-inspired geometric patterns. Because who doesn’t love a bit of glamour and luxury in their lives?? There’s also a rise in investing in higher-quality or more unique materials in furniture, like marble and burl wood—and gold accents are everywhere.

It seems fitting that Art Deco is a popular style once again, as we’re now passing the 100-year mark of its original debut. And, as we enter another decade, we can’t help but wonder if it will it be as roaring in the 2020s as it was in the 1920s? Who knows. But one thing is for sure: Art Deco style is here to stay.

iconic cristmas trees

5 Iconic Christmas Tree Moments That Changed The Holidays

holiday decor ideasChristmas is just around the corner and we’re already feeling the holiday spirit take over. Christmas trees, for many people, are a staple when it comes to holiday decor. Decorating the tree with ornaments and stringing it with lights is a tradition found in many homes. But how did it all come to be?

For a fun little jaunt down memory lane, we’re taking a look at how tree trimming turned into a celebrated moment all over the world. Additionally, we’ve also included some of our favorite tree moments in holiday history. Read on for 5 iconic Christmas trees that’s made a mark in history.

iconic Christmas treesImage Source

1. Queen Victoria’s Christmas Tree

If we’re going to talk about iconic Christmas trees and their best moments in holiday history, we’ve got to start from the beginning. While tree-decorating didn’t start with Queen Victoria, without her it wouldn’t be the same glittering holiday tradition.

The Backstory: Trees were a German tradition that her husband, Prince Albert, introduced to Victoria. In 1848 The London Illustrated News printed descriptions and sketches of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Christmas tree and those all around Windsor castle. It set in motion the now-global tradition of decorating Christmas trees within the home.

Why We Love This Moment: Because can you imagine if we never got a glimpse of the Queen’s over-the-top Christmas tree? And the frenzy that ensued? No, neither can we.

Charlie Brown Christmas TreeImage Source

2. Charlie Brown’s Tree

No one will argue that A Charlie Brown Christmas was and will always be a heartwarming holiday favorite for kids and adults alike. It speaks to the holiday spirit with its adorable, and lighthearted (okay, maybe not super lighthearted at first) holiday spirit.

The Backstory: First aired in 1965, the animated TV special by Charles M. Schulz, based on his comic strip Peanuts, was at once a charming celebration of Christmas and a commentary on the commercialization of the holiday. Charlie Brown, who’s at the center of many of Schulz’s stories, picks a seemingly ugly tree to decorate. In the end, instead of bemoaning the sad state of the tree, Charlie Brown sends the message of optimism and hope by emphasizing it’s not the presents under the tree, but what’s around each Christmas tree (family, friends, love, the holiday spirit) that truly matters.

Why We Love This Moment: Since 1965, Charlie Brown has inspired naturalists everywhere to find beauty in all Christmas trees, even if they seem sparse and sad.

iconic cristmas treesImage Source

3. The Silver Tinsel Tree

In the late 1950s the aluminum faux Christmas tree was born and gained popularity into the 1960s. An icon of the mid-century, the chrome-like trees symbolized the newness of the mid-century era and the ability to use materials, which were previously rationed during wartime, at will.

The Backstory: All the way up until 1965, the first year A Charlie Brown Christmas aired, aluminum trees were painted as symbols of the commercialization of the holiday. But their popularity waned in the following years. Although more recently we’ve seen a resurgence of these silver trees accompanying the revival of all things Mid-Century Modern in the 21st century.

Why We Love This Moment: Even though there’s no beating the look and smell of a real Christmas tree, who doesn’t love seeing these faux versions out in city streets and front lawns every year?

Image Source

4. The Rockefeller Center Tree

One of the most viewed Christmas trees in the U.S., the Rockefeller Center began its tree display tradition in 1931. A Norway spruce, this tree type is probably one of the most iconic and classic evergreens used for Christmas trees.

The Backstory: The first tree in 1931 was a small one. The workers at Rockefeller Center pooled their money to buy a tree as a symbol of hope during the Depression Era. Two years later, the tree lighting ceremony became an annual tradition, and it has progressively grown taller and grander over the years.

Why We Love This Moment: It’s an 80-foot-tall tree that’s fully lit and decked out and it’s viewed by over 125 million people during the holidays each year. It’s probably the most notable worldwide symbol of Christmas we can think of!

5. The Whoville Christmas Tree

From the ever beloved Dr. Seuss classic, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, the tree in this holiday staple is often depicted as sagging with a drooping top. One of our favorite iconic Christmas trees, is shows a little wear and tear from being burglarized by Mr. Grinch and driven up a mountain before its eventual return to Whoville.

The Backstory: This holiday classic has a traditional feel-good story arc that’s stood the test of time. There have been multiple motion picture re-makes and a killer soundtrack, so there’s no denying the Grinch is a true holiday classic. Plus, it’s always whimsical, fun, and oh-so colorful!

Why We Love This Story: This is another timeless tale full of moral lessons—it’s not about the gifts, it’s about the holiday spirit!

A Design Historian’s Perspective: The Trend is “Collector”

By Alessandra Wood, Ph.D., Modsy Director of Style

Over the past decade, we’ve been seeing an influx of mid-century styles all across the design world. It goes without saying that interior design is heavily influenced by not only lifestyle, but also the way people incorporate design into even the smallest details of their daily lives.

What’s trending now is a more personalized styling that incorporates mid-century pieces into a more “lived in” vibe.

We’re seeing a contemporization of a mid-century aesthetic that fits a modern audience valuing timeless design, comfort, and subtle accent detailing. This modernization can be summed into a term we like to refer to as “The Collector.”

The aesthetic of the Mid-Century has been adapted to fit a modern call for comfort and personalization. The Collector has revolutionized how we see opportunities for new uses of space.

  • We’re seeing end chairs being used as side tables for lamps and collections of beautiful books.
  • Coffee tables are being replaced by smaller, mismatched tables that are juxtaposed together to create a more dynamic unit of diverse shapes, forms and materials.
  • The centerpiece of a living room is no longer the TV; instead, focus has shifted to collections of artwork, bookshelves that house books and collected objects, large indoor plants of all varieties, and rugs that function as statement pieces themselves.
  • We’re also seeing a call for smaller, artisanal goods that have been sourced locally as opposed to mass produced commercial products.

The Collector embodies the essence of a style that was born in the Mid-Century, yet has been completely redefined into a modern comfortable style that can easily be translated to your personal design taste.