|La Maîtrise Pavillon for Galeries Lafayette, among the|
fantastical structures that introduced the public to Art Deco
at the Paris Exposition in 1925.
The Exposition was meant to showcase only the most modern European design, whether in architecture or consumer products, so no historically-based decoration was allowed. Instead one found a gaggle of fresh new motifs based on simple geometry: chevrons, flutes, zigzags and rays, as well as some highly stylized floral forms.
| William Van Alen's Chrysler|
Building of 1930, whose pinnacle
is perhaps the best known
Art Deco structure in America.
Art Deco remained a commercial style for the most part, yet residential architecture couldn’t help but be affected by it. For those architects and builders brave enough to break away from the traditional styles of the day, Art Deco brought a whole new look to housing. In many ways, it emulated Bauhaus design, with its flat roofs, curved walls, and bands of windows; yet true Bauhaus adherents would have been aghast at the further addition of strident colors and wild geometric motifs such as ziggurats, sunbursts, and lightning bolts.
|The lobby of the Oakland Paramount Theater, designed by|
Timothy Pfleuger and completed in 1931,
features the ultra-Deco "Fountain of Light".
|Raymond Loewy poses on the Pennsylvania Railroad's|
S1 locomotive of 1939, whose heavily speedlined cowling
gave it a look of motion even when standing still.
In years after World War II, a renewed sense of American pride led buyers back to the more home-grown look of Colonials and Ranchers, and the high-voltage era of Deco/Moderne quietly faded out like a dying battery. Since the style never really caught on with tract builders, Art Deco residences are quite rare, often appearing singly among the more popular bungalows and cottages of the era.
|A small Art Deco jewel in San Franciso, circa|
the late 1930s.
(Image courtesy of decopix.com)
But hey, a Deco jewel is worth a little trouble, oui?