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Art Deco

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Art Deco, a flexible and decorative art that changed history.

The staple style during the 1920s and 1930s, with its geometrically futuristic linear design, Art Deco was applied in every field, including architecture, furniture, interior design, graphic design, fashion and typography. Its streamlined, simplistic, symmetric, fluid and futuristic design was easily managed and breathable, in contrast to the frilly Edwardian Art Nouveau designs.

It took the world by storm after the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (although some claimed that the movement started as early as 1910), influenced by works of Romain de Tirtoff (better known as Erté), historical arts like Aztec, Egyptian and Mesopotamian, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Neoclassical, Futurist, Cubist and other modernist style movements. And its forms went on to every World's Fair from the 20s and 30s, then spread to all over the world.


In the 1930s, a substyle emerged, which emphasizes straighter lines, refined geometric shapes, and mechanic motifs, called "Streamline Moderne".

Although the term Art Déco is commonly used, the term was actually coined in The '60s and The '70s during its resurgence after its popularity declined about World War II.

Often this style is found on Diesel Punk and mostly Raygun Gothic settings.

Examples that include the art form or is applied about Art Deco:

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    Comic Books 
  • The Little King comics use this aesthetic, and the animated cartoons based on the comic by Van Beuren Studios have some of their characters designed like this, in order to match the designs of the original comic. The backgrounds are still standard ink wash paintings, and many of the other characters still use the Van Beuren house style.
  • Tony Harris and his successors on Starman gave Opal City a markedly Deco look.

  • The film The Rocketeer had Art Deco leanings in it the design of the Rocketeer costume, and the promotional posters were done in this style.
  • The titles in most of the promotional materials for The Great Gatsby (2013) are stylized in Art Deco, as is, of course, most of the set and production design.
  • The "Ghostbusters building", as explicitly pointed out by Egon. In Real Life it's located at 55 Central Park West; however, the real building is shorter and doesn't have the spire at the top, where the climax takes place—the spire was made using a scale model.
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes is set in the 1920s and has some gorgeous sets, particularly the house interiors of the main characters.
  • In The Hobbit and its sequels, the dwarf kingdom of Erebor, under the Lonely Mountain, takes its design cues from Art Deco as well, with jagged, angular or sharply parallel elements in its sculptures and interior carvings. The design choice may evoke the Dwarves' connection to mining and precious stones, many of which naturally occur in regular, crystalline, geometric shapes.
  • The Hunger Games: In the movies, much of the architectural and graphic design style in the Capitol takes inspiration from this—the buildings emulate the Soviet/Stalinist Deco school, whilst the trains and sleeker skyscrapers are inspired by "utopian" Diesel Punk styles that would not look out of place in an Ayn Rand novel.
  • Forbidden Planet, most obviously in Morbias's home, but also seen in the C-57D and the Krell underground.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, being set in the New York-based American wizarding community in The Roaring '20s, naturally features a lot of Art Deco-inspired set pieces and furniture/prop design. It's easy to imagine the events of The Great Gatsby to be happening in Muggle New York, in parallel with the events of Fantastic Beasts.
  • The Black Cat features some amazing Art Deco sets and furniture.

  • Ayn Rand is widely associated with art deco, as the style's bold lines and dramatic ambitions fit nicely with Rand's soaring, grandiloquent style and view of human achievement.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular hotel in American Horror Story: Hotel was explicitly designed in an art deco style. It's most noticeable in the hotel's huge, grandiose lobby.
  • The design team admitted to basing the sandminer sets in The Robots of Death on Art Deco.
  • The opening titles of Poirot are absolutely pure Art Deco, using a mixture of animation and stage sets with live actors.
  • The design of the Second Dawn Bunker in The100 features Art Deco elements, like the posters on the walls and the design of their logo.
  • While the original book version of His Dark Materials is generally regarded as describing its heroine Lyra’s world as Gaslamp Fantasy in style, the BBC/HBO adaptation goes for a lot of art deco imagery, creating something of a Dieselpunk feel overall.

  • The music videos for "Take Me Out" and "This Fire" from Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand make use of this style a lot, albeit in a very kitsch manner.
  • The artwork for Florence + the Machine' Ceremonials invokes Art Deco, along with the music video for "Spectrum".

    Tabletop Games 
  • The design of many of the Martian buildings, rocket cars and covers of the adventure booklets in Rocket Age are drawn in an Art Deco style. After all, the setting does takes place in the 1930s.

    Video Games 
  • A lot of the architecture in BioShock's Rapture is of Art Deco design, drawing a lot of inspiration from 1930s and '40s American architectural styles. The game's pause menu also has a heavy Art Deco influence. The Ayn Rand connection is heavily played up, as Rapture's founder, Andrew Ryan, is basically a parody of one of Rand's heroes, and Rapture is founded on objectivist principles. The game itself is an exploration of why those principles wouldn't actually work as the basis for a society.
  • The indie fighting game Skullgirls borrows a lot influences of the Art Deco style (stylized as "Dark Deco") and the Golden Age of Hollywood. The music, composed by Michiru Yamane of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night fame, incorporates jazz-styled music of the 1940s to go along with the game's art direction.
  • The Sierra Madre Casino in the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money is designed in art deco style (as is quite a bit of the rest of the Fallout universe to varying extents).
  • The loading screens in Dragon Age II have significant art deco design influences, filtered through a more medieval illuminated manuscript style.
  • The fifth instalment of Civilization has some influences in Art Deco, particularly in the user interface.
  • Cloudbank in Transistor has some obvious art deco influences, mixed in TRON-like aesthetics in a Midgar-esque cyberpunk setting.
  • The Sims 3 has Bridgeport with Art Deco motifs on certain penthouses and houses, and Roaring Heights, a city filled to the brim with 1930s Art Deco aesthetics.
  • A computer game called The Chessmaster 2000 had Art Deco as its default style for the chess pieces.
  • Much like BioShock, Prey (2017) has this style as a strong influence for the design of the Talos I station. Most obviously, places such as the Lobby of the station display a strong influence, while the shape of the station itself looks like it walked straight out of the page image.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, the eponymous retreat, the Penrose Hotel, is built in this style, from architecture to fonts and even the clothing of the staff.
  • Much of the architecture in Batman: Arkham Knight is Art Deco, in keeping with the traditional Batman aesthetic. The Gotham City of ''Knight" is basically a collection of Art Deco skyscrapers and Gothic cathedrals.
  • Closetothe Sun the ship is heavily inspired by Art Deco despite the fact that the design would not appear until 20 years after the game's setting.
  • The Outer Worlds takes various design cues from Art Deco in its world aa well as the interface and fonts.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The art style of Batman: The Animated Series, from the buildings, to the shading, to the character designs, is heavily based on this, combined with Film Noir elements. Bruce Timm and his crew even named the animation style as Dark Deco.
  • The Title Cards of My Life as a Teenage Robot are based on the Art Deco style. The overall animation style also has strong Deco elements.
  • Looney Tunes
    • Director Frank Tashlin loved Art Deco and incorporated into his character and background designs. A notable example is Porky's Romance, where Petunia Pig lives in a Streamline Deco house.
    • Page Miss Glory has a Dream Sequence done in the Art Deco style.

    Real Life 
  • Romain "Erté" de Tirtoff's fashion illustrations.
  • Most of Tamara de Lempicka's paintings.
  • The French Fashion Magazine La Gazette Du Bon Ton that ran from late 1912 to 1925 is a forerunner of this, composing of at the time cutting edge fashion designs illustrated by artists like Georges Barbier, Pierre Brissaud, Paul Iribe and Erté.
  • Many skyscrapers of the period were built in this style. Some notable ones:
    • The most iconic are probably New York City's most famous 1920s-30s skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. Both are heavily built on Art Deco. The Chrysler is the more obviously Art Deco (what with the radiant steel decoration at the top), but the Empire State Building is also clearly of the style, and its mast (originally envisioned to be a port for airships) is almost parodically of the age. 30 Rockefeller Plaza is also famous, largely because of its major tenant, NBC.
    • Chicago has a number of Art Deco skyscrapers, the tallest of which is the Board of Trade Building, which still towers over the LaSalle Street canyon. However, its most notable Art Deco building is probably the Merchandise Mart, which is not really a skyscraper; although it is mostly an 18-story building, with a 25-story tower embedded in it, and therefore just about tall enough to be called a skyscraper, it is so wide (it was the largest building in the world for a while) and its use so unusual (it's mostly a warehouse/wholesale/retail venue rather than offices, residences, or a hotel) that calling it a skyscraper misses something.
    • Detroit has two landmark ones: the Fisher Building and the Guardian Building. The Guardian in particular is considered one of the finest examples of the highly decorated, ornate style of Art Deco that recalls nothing more than the most exuberant forms of Gothic architecture. The Fisher Building, for its part, is one of the major works of noted Art Deco architect Albert Kahn.
    • San Francisco's most famous Art Deco architecture is not a skyscraper, but the Golden Gate Bridge. In the skyscraper department, it boasts 450 Sutter Street, with its unique "Neo-Mayan" take on Art Deco.
  • Being a former American colony, Philippine architecture in the 1920s and 1930s fell in love with Art Deco. Most of the buildings were unfortunately destroyed during World War II.
  • Nowadays derisively-called Stalinist Architecture of the 1933-1955 period in the Soviet Union was a heavily politicized derivative of this and Post-Constructivist movements.
  • Rather funnily, an entire class of automotive design which emerged during The Great Depression and died hopelessly during The '50s, the "aerodynamic fastback" style. Most widely-known examples: Lincoln Zephyr and Cord 810 / 812. It relied on a specific set of conditions to be met: relatively low-powered engines were not quite the best for performance (original VW Bug had barely 24hp!), yet the roads were still sparsely-populated with cars, so designers went to aerodynamic body shapes to increase efficiency and speed like in advanced aircraft of the time, and also to break with the tradition of frilly, horse-carriage inspired earlier designs. Once the new high-compression engines came after the early 1950s, there was less interest in aerodynamics.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at the Disney Theme Parks in California Adventure and Disneyland Paris are built in this style. According to details around the attraction, the building was constructed in 1917 and the story of the ride takes place in 1939.
  • The archway entrance to the Universal Studios is done in this style. Several of the street facades at the parks are styled like this as well.
  • The fashion house/department store Biba was the poster child for Art Deco Revival that occurred during The '70s.
  • Many hotels and luxury establishments still use Deco or a modernised variant of this in their interior and visual design, as Art Deco is closely associated with prosperity and luxury even today.
  • The related Bauhaus movement in Germany was denounced as decadent and Jewish by the Nazis and officially discouraged.
  • San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, which was built in the 1930s.
  • Hoover Dam, also built in the 1930s, has some amazing Art Deco elements.
  • RMS Queen Mary, features a lot of Art Deco in the public spaces, but made a point to not go as all out with it as her main competitor the Normandie.
  • The Chrysler Airflow was a notable automotive example, being developed around the Streamline Moderne design language which was hailed as the future for motor vehicles. While it was ultimately deemed to be a commercial failure for Chrysler (not helping matters was The Great Depression which caused a slump in new car sales for one), not to mention a critical one as the public was alienated at what they saw as an "anonymous lump", it would later be Vindicated by History as a seminal car, inspiring the likes of Volvo's PV 36 Carioca and the Toyota AA, which was heavily derived from the DeSoto variant of the Airflow and ran on a straight-six engine copied from Chevrolet.


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