Around the house: Art Deco design still delights

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There was a lot going on last year, so you can be forgiven if you didn’t notice that it was more of less the 100th anniversary of Art Deco, the exuberantly modern design style that emerged in the 1920s. But if you have any interest in design, it’s still worth pausing to look at one of the defining influences on decorative art, architecture, and fashion in the last century.


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Instantly recognizable by its sharp geometry and sleek symmetrical lines, Deco design also favoured bright, hot colours, and often accented with metals. There were also big, bold strokes of black and white—especially in interior design. New materials, including resins and plastics, not only expanded options for décor accessories, but made them more accessible and affordable for regular folk.

In an excellent piece in The Washington Post, Michelle Brunner notes that Deco influences seem to resurface in times of social transition or turmoil, citing 1950s diner aesthetic, space-agey 1960s’ design, and the Memphis movement of the 1980s.

The clean lines of Art Deco have enduring appeal.
The clean lines of Art Deco have enduring appeal. Photo by Supplied

A century later, Art Deco is still being celebrated, including in the recently-launched DXV Belshire bath collection, a suite of fittings, fixtures, and furniture that the luxury kitchen and bath brand says marries the optimism and elegance of the era with contemporary convenience and technology.


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Developed over three years, the line was inspired by the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, as well as the Stella Tower, the iconic structure designed in 1927 by Ralph Walker, a famous Art Deco designer who is credited with shaping the skyline of New York City during the Roaring Twenties.

Jewelry-like fittings are customizable, with a choice of lever, cross or cushion handles on low or high-spout faucets, and are available in satin brass, platinum nickel, brushed nickel, or chrome.

Cabinets and consoles are handcrafted in oak, walnut, and Carrara marble by Portuguese craftspeople. Wall-hung toilets and freestanding soaking tubs anchor the collection, which is available at showrooms across Canada.

Another deco design element we’re likely to see more of is ribbed surfaces, which was a common treatment for Art Deco ceramics. Over the last few years, it began re-appearing in soft furnishing. I recently saw the effect on Elmwood’s new Bregenz 20 cabinets—sleek, Shaker-style cabinetry with ribbed, cane-like inserts.


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Deco’s penchant for black stone is reflected in the rise of the dark palettes in both kitchen and bath. One of the moodiest comes from Italian stone company Antolini, in the form of Black Cosmic, a deep-space shade of granite that can’t help but add drama to a space. Its veined white quartz and mica clusters stand out against the intense backdrop, giving it depth and personality.

From Caesarstone’s new Dark Collection there’s Oxidian, an inky black with a rust-like effect, and Tempal, a charcoal base with warm white hues.

Gemma metal work bath accessories are pretty and practical.
Gemma metal work bath accessories are pretty and practical. Photo by Photo Bed Bath and Beyond

Graphic floor and wall tiles are another way to get the look. Mass merchants like Home Depot have ceramic tiles with scalloped, herringbone, chevron and mosaic patterns—common Deco motifs—for floor, wall, and backsplash. Prices start at an accessible $7 per square foot.


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Even the simplest accessories can nod to the grace and beauty of Art Deco.

Wild Sage—Bed Bath & Beyond’s in-house bedding, bath and accessories line—brings it into the bathroom with handsome, clean-lined wire accessories. Gemma baskets and three-tiered bath towers, for example, have the pleasing angularity of Deco design and come in chic black, gold, and silver. Prices for the line start at $7, so refreshing a bathroom won’t bust the budget.

Another smaller-scale, affordable option—a jazzy Ponti shower curtain or towel from Arren Williams’ line for The Bay. And to tie the topic together nicely, Williams’ pattern is inspired by Gio Ponti, the revered Italian architect who participated in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, from which Art Deco got its name, proving once again that everything old is—eventually—new again.



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