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Q: 1930's art-deco decorating and furnishings ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: 1930's art-deco decorating and furnishings
Category: Arts and Entertainment
Asked by: decojoe-ga
List Price: $45.00
Posted: 13 Aug 2004 19:45 PDT
Expires: 12 Sep 2004 19:45 PDT
Question ID: 387641
I am decorating a room in a house and would like to do it in a "fat"
art-deco 1930's (American) style. (dark woods, velevts etc.
popularized in film) Am looking for reference photos and general info
(for inspiration, background info to keep authentic) for colors,
styles etc. and also information/links on where to buy furniture, wall
decorations, accessories, etc. Antique and reproductions both okay for
all pieces. The room has a small, black baby grand piano, which is
staying, and also staying in the room (formerly a living room) are 2
uphosltered, large-armed chairs and an antique radio from the period.
Will ultimately be a music room - hoping for lounge feel/flavor with
lighting around piano.
Subject: Re: 1930's art-deco decorating and furnishings
Answered By: scribe-ga on 28 Aug 2004 10:54 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Decojoe,
What I have tried to do in my answer is to give you both sources of
information (especially visual references, both online and books) AND
referrals to sellers/auctioneers of original Art Deco pieces (these
also serve as good places for studying the Art Deco style, of course.)
If buying original Art Deco pieces by well-known designers is beyond
your means, then it seems to me that once you know what you want (and
I hope my answer helps you firm that up), you can then set off on an
online and offline search for more affordable and mass-produced Art
Deco furnishings for your room).

Let?s start with an overview of Art Deco in the United States,
succinctly provided at:

From your question, it seems to me that the ?Hollywood Deco? phase
described at this site is the sub-subject that would interest you
most.  Here, Cedric Gibbon gets credit for kicking off the celluloid
Art Deco craze with a film called Our Dancing Daughters in 1928.
(Gibbon, by the way, is also the man who designed the Oscar statuette,
a purely art deco object if ever there was one.) gives you a complete list of the
hundreds of films Gibbon designed in his long long career.

This site
says of Our Dancing Daughters: ?every empty surface has an Art Deco
female nude figurine.? I am afraid I have come up empty-handed in
trying to find still shots of sets from this film (or from Gibbon?s
other films) online. But this film?-as well as these other
Gibbon-designed films with Art Deco-style interiors: Grand Hotel
(1931); Private Lives (1931) and The Thin Man (1934)?-are available
for purchase from:  (Private Lives is the Noel Coward
play, adapted for the screen; it should be replete with Art Deco
visual sophistication, as designed by Mr. Gibbon.)

In the spring of 2003, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London
sponsored an Art Deco film festival.
The V&A says the following of the Art Deco-izing of Hollywood:
?In films such as Our Dancing Daughters, Grand Hotel, 42nd Street and
the musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Hollywood spun a
magical web of luxury, youth, beauty, upward mobility, sexual
liberation and rampant consumerism.? 42nd Street and the
Astaire/Rogers films are also available from  By the
way, the V&A site is an excellent source of information about Art Deco
in general.

I recommend you also consult print references , such as the volume
mentioned by that first link I gave you: the amply illustrated "Screen
Deco" by Harold Mandelbaum and Eric Myers, available at
Additonally, in the book area, I came across this helpful reply online
to someone asking a question very much like yours:
?The web is great for some things, bad for others. Accuracy is pretty
much hit-or-miss. I've seen rooms labeled "art deco"--usually in the
publicity photos in bed & breakfast websites--that showed 1940s
furniture, 1970s deco revival posters, all done up in color schemes
that missed the 1920s by about six decades. People fluent in the style
just laugh at that kind of thing, but those who are just starting out
can be led down the garden path.
If you want to see a lot of good pictures--not tiny jpegs of bad
photos--you'll need books. The bad news is a lot of my favorites are
out of print. The good news is that the net is great for locating such
hard-to-find items. Here are a few excellent sources.
"The Nineteen Twenties Style" by Martin Battersby; "Bungalow Kitchens"
& "Bungalow Bathrooms" By Jane Powell & Linda Something; "Art Deco
Interiors" by Patricia Bayer; "Twentieth Century Interiors" by Stephen
Calloway". None of these are how-to books, but they all have really
good illustrations of actual rooms of the period, which are a lot more
useful than second-generation interpretations of the style. Why copy a
copy? ?

You have specified that you are interested in American Art Deco. Be
aware that Art Deco is not American in origin, but is rather a
European successor to Art Nouveau, a style of architecture and
decoration that became internationally dominant toward the end of the
19th century. Therefore, some of the greatest Art Deco buildings and
interior designs can be found in Europe. More relevantly to your
project, some of the most typical Art Deco furnishings may not be
strictly American, but rather European. For example, take the ?club
chair.? This wonderful design is usually referred to as the ?French
club chair.? It?s a wonderful instance of the ?fat style? that you
seek to install in your library. Good examples of club chairs can be
found in the last link in my answer,  below.By the way, club chair
"reproductions" are available from and
other online retailers.

Not surprisingly some of the top purveyors of authentic Art Deco
furnishings can be found in Europe. One good example is the Astoria
shop in Essex, UK.
Take a look at their excellent site for some good example of furniture
and accessories to add to your ?visuals? library as you plan this
room. (Many of the items in their ?lounge suites? category?the one
probably of most interest to you?seem to be already sold.)

Another good idea source could be a French site (in English) that is a
huge compendium of images. You must be a registered user, but that
takes just a moment. Once registered, enter ?art deco chairs? in the
search book and ?.VOILA!

A supplier in the United States you might want to check out is
Architectural Emporium in Canonsburg, PA. Their original art deco light fixtures
for example, available from their online store, are again an excellent
visual reference for you even if you do not chose to buy (these
lighting fixtures do not come cheap).

I found Architectural Emporium as well as other useful supplier sites,
at this web page:

Another possible place for information and inspiration is, including listings of current Art Deco exhibitions.
There are two major Art deco exhibitions now ongoing in the United
States. One is at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City: ?Ruhlman:
Genius  of Art Deco?, closes Sept. 5 (Ruhlman was French):  The other exhibtion is in Boston at the Museum of
Fine Arts: ?Art Deco: 1910-1939?, through Jan. 9. (get your free Art Deco screensaver here!)

Finally I wanted to refer you to information about perhaps the premier
American Art Deco designer, Donald Deskey, the designer of the
interior of the that great temple of Art Deco, Radio City Music Hall
in New York City (as well as the furnishings therein.)

There?s a good brief bio of Deskey at this webpage:

And there is an excellent representative showing of his designs at the
website of a New York City auction house that specializes in collector
pieces by foremost modern designers:
Click on DESIGNER, then on D, then on DESKEY.
I am afraid you are too late to buy the original Deskey leather sofa
with a chromed tubular frame and lacquered arm rests, which sold for
$23,900. (Last item in second row.)

Finally, finally: a few other links to some other purveyors of Art
Deco furniture. There is in Philadelphia a leading dealer of ?French
Art Deco.? For more information about the Moderne Gallery, go to

And at the following wonderful resource, check out a gorgeous Art Deco bookcase:
I am certain you will want to spend some time browsing the great Art
Deco Collection website, which offers some splendid pieces of both
American and European origin. Prices are not given. But you are
invited to send them an email to get the price and further information
about any piece that catches your eye. And even if you don?t want to
buy here, once again it's a great resource for ideas as you strive for
period authenticity.

I think perhaps I had better stop here before I overwhelm you with too
much information.
I hope all of this is genuinely helpful.

Have fun in creating your own Art Deco space.
All the best,

Request for Answer Clarification by decojoe-ga on 30 Aug 2004 06:26 PDT
Thanks for the informed answer - but as I mentioned in the original
question, I was looking for a starting point for reproduction pieces
(in addition to originals) - "antique and reproductions both okay for
all pieces." Could you perhaps provide just a few links to sites
selling reproduction pieces? Although your research is excellent, I
too had more luck coming up with links to historical books and
reference materials, while coming up fairly empty handed on sites that
sell repro pieces. If you could possibly provide this info, I believe
you will have completed this research project! Thank you in advance
for your nice work.

Clarification of Answer by scribe-ga on 30 Aug 2004 10:07 PDT
I understand where my answer perhaps fell short, and I will do my best
to rectify that. Stand by, please!

Clarification of Answer by scribe-ga on 31 Aug 2004 08:25 PDT
Hello again Decojoe,
I guess I have run into the same problem that you have: There does not
seem to be a wealth of not-terribly-expensive Art Deco furniture
reproductions available, at least not online.  I would repeat my
recommendation of Restoration Hardware. They have some terrific
leather club chairs (and under ?home office,? the Harrison Filing
Cabinet is a nifty ?retro? design.) Pottery Barn and other stores of
that ilk may be worth checking out too.

If your budget allows, however, I have found one source for MANY very
handsome, first-quality Art Deco reproductions:

This California company offers a tremendous line of sofas and chairs
faithful to the originals, as well as ?European accessories,? some
terrific tables and some lighting (which looks more Art Nouveau to
me). I suspect all of this is fairly high-priced. You will note they
call their line ?French Art  Deco,? but as I suggested before Art Deco
was a truly international style, so buying ?French? will not make your
room look ?non-American,? in my opinion.

I can also recommend to you:
Here you will find some of those sinuous Art Deco-style figurines (a
la the Oscar statuette) that might add nice authentic little touches
for you room.

This site too may be of interest to you:
Note the title, ?Affordable Art Deco.? It seems to me that purchasing
a few guides, like this one, to collecting Art Deco (perhaps you
already have some) would be a good first step in heading out to flea
markets and antique malls in search of original Art deco.

Lastly, I found this page:
This is a compendium of Art Deco shopping websites. But having checked
most of them out, I can?t say there is much of great interest here.
But you might want to quickly scan this list yourself.

I hope this rounds out my answer for you.
All the best,
decojoe-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Excellent, solid research on what I found to be a difficult topic,
especially shopping resources. Pleasant, responsive, and looking
forward to the next question!

Subject: Re: 1930's art-deco decorating and furnishings
From: loadingdock-ga on 09 Mar 2005 06:45 PST
Art Deco iron beds and lamps can be found at this location.
Subject: Re: 1930's art-deco decorating and furnishings
From: devans00-ga on 30 May 2005 14:53 PDT
First off, awesome response scribe-ga.  Lots of great links.

I'd like to recommend another Hollywood movie that was crammed full of
Art Deco samples: furniture, architure, cars, clothes, knick-knacks,
etc.   Vogues of 1938  is a veritable Art Deco extravaganza.  I saw it
earlier this month on Turner Classic Movies and Netflix carries it. 
I'd definitely recommend the movie to anyone looking for ideas of how
Art Deco in context.  That is, when it was still a dominant pop
culture style.  I also write a short posting about the movie in my


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