Art Deco is almost a hundred years old, and its modern revival now dates back almost 15 years – but it's still going strong and going in new directions, as Giles Kime explains.
In 2003, under the stewardship of the brilliant Sir Mark Jones, the V&A staged an exhibition that succeeded in rehabilitating Art Deco, a style that had, for too long, been associated with bingo halls, junk shops and tired south-coast resorts.
Almost overnight, the stately Claridge’s, which had previously laboured under a reputation as the grand dame of West End hotels, became rather cool.
Within a couple of years, Urban Splash, an achingly trendy Manchester property developer, breathed new life into the Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Oliver Hill’s Art Deco masterpiece that – to bastardise a phrase from a former editor of Saga magazine – had for many years been ‘more hip replacement than hip’.
The Art Deco era offered a deep new well of inspiration for designers working across a wide range of areas, from tableware and furniture to interiors and architecture. This was no stylistic flash in the pan; the effect of the show was more about dusting off Art Deco and welcoming it back into the mainstream than precipitating any breathless ‘Art Deco is the new Georgian’ vacuity.
Fifteen years later, the influence of the exhibition is still responsible for simple, beautiful variations on a theme that combine the modern affection for clean lines and crisp details.
It has also impacted on kitchen design, notably in ranges by Smallbone, such as Macassar, and also by Martin Moore, which this autumn launches the New Deco kitchen inspired by the luxurious look of the 1930s.
Moore’s take (above) features marble finishes as well as metallic and ceramic detailing – plus the option of discreet banquet seating that wouldn’t look out of place in one of the great classic cruise liners of the era.
Another kitchen brand, Chiselwood – whose design is featured at the top of this page – has recently completed a project that’s yet another exciting variation on a pleasing theme.
Almost a century on, Art Deco is the stylistic revival that just keeps on giving.
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