What is Art Deco Style? Everything You Need To Know

by Drew Henry

Whether you want to bring the pages of The Great Gatsby to life, re-create the bustling energy of South Beach, or travel back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Art Deco style of the roaring 1920s and 30s might be for you! Art Deco design is characterized by the perfect balance of glitz and glamor alongside geometric lines and vibrant color. (And you know we love some color around here.) So, want to make your home the “cat’s pajamas?” The LiLi Tile Team defines the style and answers all your questions. So sit down because it’s time for Art Deco Design 101. Class is in session! 

What is Art Deco Style?

Art Deco is a visual arts, architecture, and interior-design movement popularized in the 1920s and 30s. It came about during an age of new technology and the start of international travel. So, the look embraces modern metallics, glass, vibrant colors, geometric shapes, and futuristic designs paired with global cultural influences. Art Deco design is often associated with the Jazz Age and the Golden Age of Hollywood, evoking a sense of glitz and glamor. Our fixation with Hollywood stars has only increased, making the signature style of celebrities endure through the decades. Art Deco had a revitalization in the 80s, with a funkier take on the look to include glass block, neon, and vibrant pinks and blues. The exuberant nature of this style extends from architecture to interior furnishings, fashion to graphic design. Art Deco style architecture encompasses many key attributes.

Structures are often symmetrical with distinct geometric forms. Buildings may feature ziggurat (stepped) or pyramid shapes, rounded corners or edges, smooth wall surfaces devoid of ornamentation but peppered with brilliantly colored tiles or glass.
When experienced firsthand, these architectural marvels are reminiscent of a luxurious world that no longer exists but still captivates us due to its grandeur and extravagance. Turning our sights inward to the domestic sphere reveals how this glamorous aesthetic translates into interior spaces.
An art deco style house interior echoes the bold geometrical patterns found in its architectural counterpart—ideally suited for those who embrace their wild side when it comes to home decor choices. Bold black-and-white checkered floors may greet guests in the foyer while sunburst motifs radiate on ceilings and walls.
Unsurprisingly perhaps given its celebration of luxury and elegance, art deco has found a natural home in lavishly appointed bathrooms as well – creating what is known as an Art Deco-style bathroom isn’t as difficult as one might initially think. Fixtures typically boast polished chrome or nickel finishes while tile work features intricate geometric patterns inspired by nature itself—think shells spiraling out from a center point or waves cascading down walls.
Meanwhile residing at South Beach are some iconic exemplars where locals soak up the sun in buildings with a unique twist on art deco design style. The pastel shades and neon signs that are distinctive to Miami’s Art Deco Historic District—a tropical version of the movement—offer an alternative perspective on art deco, proving this style is not limited to bold colors and extravagant forms.
However, if you’re more inclined towards subtlety in your décor choices, the glitz and glamour of art deco can be dialed back to suit a more understated aesthetic. For instance, instead of going big and bold with color, you can soften the look by opting for muted hues in geometric patterns that offer a refresher course in geometry.
Implementing curves into your furniture pieces or architectural details also adds an element of surprise - welcoming twists and curves into this otherwise straight-lined style. Last but not least are lacquer finishes and sparkling accents – quintessential aspects of any well-executed Art Deco interior design style.
Fall in love with lacquer by incorporating high-gloss cabinetry or furniture into your décor; add a little sparkle sparkle by selecting light fixtures or decorative accents with glass beads or crystal elements. So whether you choose to stay glamorous with excessive embellishments or lean towards understated elegance, remember - the world of Art Deco truly is as versatile as it is captivating.

Field Trip: Where to Find Art Deco Style Inspiration

The advancements in trains, planes, and ships in the 1920s meant people could travel in style. So, why not take a cue from Gatsby himself and take a trip to discover your Art Deco design inspiration? New York, Los Angeles, and Miami have some of the best Art Deco architecture in the world. In Manhattan, you can take notes on the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. These skyscrapers feature futuristic metallic accents and highly geometric structures. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Eastern Columbia Building in downtown LA with its blue and gold exterior is a prime example of the Art Deco palette. Miami, however, has the highest concentration of Art Deco design in the world, making it a prime spot to discover inspiration. The historic Deco District is home to the Essex House Hotel, The Carlyle, and The Marlin — all featuring curvy, pastel Deco designs that make the style so iconic. 

10 Ways to Add Art Deco Style to Your Home

Now that you know a little bit more about Art Deco design, it’s time to re-create the look for yourself. Here are 10 ways to add Art Deco style to your home. 

1. Welcome Some Twists and Curves 

The road to an Art Deco inspired interior is one with a few twists and curves — but in the best possible way! Art Deco design favors rounded corners and curvy designs, which you can see in the ornamentation on top of the Chrysler Building. Bring the curves in through rounded furniture pieces, curved patterns, and trendy accessories like a blob mirror. Many of the tile designs in our new Tomma Bloom x LiLi Tile collection feature curved patterns in classic Art Deco colors, allowing you to bring the look to bathrooms, kitchen backsplashes, and fireplace surrounds.  

2. Add a Little Sparkle Sparkle 

In the 20s and 30s, consumers embraced new technologies and futuristic trends. So, there was an affinity toward metallics, mirrors, acrylic, glass, crystal, and anything else with a bit of sparkle. Add some shimmer to your home with mirror accents, crystal chandeliers, and acrylic furniture. Additionally, you can bring in some sparkle with metal insert cement tiles and our Raffia Mother of Pearl Terrazzo tile featuring a geometric Art Deco pattern that twinkles in the light.  

3. Search for Global Inspiration 

Travel boomed in the 1920s thanks to faster trains, bigger ships, and the brand-new airplane. So, the Art Deco style took on global inspiration from Africa, the Middle East, Greece, and Asia. Consider displaying collections from your travels to enhance your space or look for patterns inspired by other cultures. For example, our Athena tile mimics the patterns of ancient Greek pottery, making it the perfect fit for an Art Deco space. 

4. Or Look No Further Than South Beach 

Take a trip to Florida to soak up the sun and all things Art Deco. South Beach, Miami, is one of the world's most famous Art Deco travel destinations because it’s home to one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco architecture. Miami offers a lighter, beachier twist on the style with pastel colors, palm tree prints, and a casual coastal look that feels less formal and more inviting.

5. Go Big and Bold with Color 

The Art Deco movement valued bold colors, including deep yellows, pinks, greens, and blues. Our Deco inspired Valentina tile combines all the top Art Deco colors in one bold, geometric pattern. This cement tile will instantly transform your space into a Deco haven. 

6. Take a Refresher Course in Geometry 

This Design 101 course requires a prerequisite in geometry. Don’t worry. We won’t make you memorize the Pythagorean theorem. However, you will want to learn how to incorporate geometric patterns, including triangles, into your Art Deco home. Our Cairo triangle tile delivers bold lines, accentuated by some glamorous brass accents — perfect for a Deco backsplash.  

7. Fall in Love with Laquer 

Get ready to embrace even more shine. We told you this style is all about the glitz! Shiny lacquered wood furniture is a popular element in Art Deco interiors. Pair antique lacquered wood pieces alongside metal, acrylic, and high-gloss paint furnishings to give your space a contemporary edge.


8. Embrace Your Wild Side 

Embrace your wild side with some animal print, and don’t be afraid of clashing. More is more when it comes to Art Deco. So, feel free to bring in zebra, cheetah, and any other animal motif you can think of. We think peacocks make a great addition to a Deco room, and our Peacock tile by Adam Trest is the perfect whimsical accent. 

9. Soak Up the Sun 

Sunbursts are another popular pattern in Art Deco design. As a bonus, they also channel that beautiful Miami sunset. You can bring starburst patterns through wallpaper, fabric, light fixtures, and even tiles. Our Sunny and Rise mini hexagon tiles feature two radiant sunburst patterns perfect for any Art Deco room. 

10. Stay Glamorous 

When in doubt, channel your inner Hollywood star. The Art Deco style is all about the glamorous lifestyle of the roaring 20s and 30s. So stay glamorous and never hold back. 

Create an Art Deco Work of Art  

Now that you know the basics, you can create your own Art Deco work of art. Remember, the Art Deco style is curated and flexible. So, you can either lean into a regal Gatsby motif or have fun with a laidback Miami approach. Stick to glamorous finishes, and you’ll be well on your way to a roaring design! 

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