Paris, in 1925, held a grand exhibition of arts & design. L’Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, or, The International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts….for short… displayed exhibits from across many fields of the applied arts & architecture from more than 15,000 exhibitors. Styles & motifs ranged from French Decorative Cubism, German Bauhaus, Italian Futurism, and Russian Constructivism to Ancient Egyptian art & Mayan art.
The term Art Deco was taken from the title of this exhibition & was popular in the 1920’s, 30’s, & 40’s, It was popularized in the 1960s by British art critic and historian, Bevis Hillier. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colours, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation, and moved away from the soft pastels & organic motifs of Art Nouveau.
Its popularity peaked in Europe during the Roaring Twenties and continued strongly in the United States through the 1930s. Although many design movements have political or philosophical roots or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative.
There are a lot of great examples of Art Deco remaining around the world made famous (though not necessarily obviously to us) by hollywood. Places such as the Empire State building & the Chrysler Building in New York.
Closer to home however there are quite a few little gems about the city. Architect Herbert Simms was appointed the roll of creating a housing solution for the greater Dublin area that would see the clearance of the slums of the inner city.
Despite the enormous pressure this roll entailed Mr. Simms spent his time between 1932 & 1948 creating some 17,000 dwellings around dublin, a lot of which influenced by Art Deco style, including the flats at Chancery Park, the Kiosk on the Adalade Road, the Bathing Shelters in Clontarf & my favorite of all….the flats at Pierce House in Dublin where my Mother lived before I was born. Nice.