Architects, designers, craftsman and manufactures began a new style for designing things from building to consumer products in Europe around 1910. It became especially popular in France. This new style was called Art Deco and it became important in the United States in the 1920s and remained popular through the 1930s.
Common identifying features included angular, geometric shapes, stylized decorations and streamlined shapes. Frozen fountains and sunbursts are among the common and recurrent motifs. (A motif is a central theme in a concept design.) Acid-etching, chroming and lithography are also common with the Art Deco style.
Art Deco items for the consumer market were made from a wide range of materials such as plastics including Bakelite, ivory and mother-of-pearl, exotic woods, gilt-bronze mounts and other materials. It is still a popular collectible style today.
The Art Deco style seemed to first emerge in architecture and interior design. It then spread to industrial design in the form of gleaming appliances and plastic radios as well as in glass and metal furnishings.
Cartier of Paris and other famous makers produced smoking accessories made of enamel, gold and real materials such as agate and nephrite. Famous designers and firms also made items out of copper and silver in the Art Deco style. Jewelry was another category of items made in this style.
The furniture that was coming out of Grand Rapids, Mich., offered veneered furniture round miners and streamlined shapes, as well as the latest in plastic and metal hardware. Low, wide geometric patterns in fabric and inlay were also a distinguishing characteristic during these years.
The decorating studios from various department stores provided both commercial interiors and the domestic market with coordinating combinations of furniture, carpets, fabrics, lighting, sculptures and paintings and other decorating materials.
Perhaps you have seen some of the boldly colored geometric ceramics by Clarice Cliff, because the bold and brightly colored pieces almost jump out at you, so to speak.
Also, our readers who are glass collectors may have seen some of the glass items with repeated geometric motifs by Rene Lalique at some antique shows or at some upscale antiques shop. The old saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder also hold true here. Some people really like the Art Deco style and others say that it is rather ugly.
Marvin Mann, Plainville, is an accredited member of the International Society of Appraisers. Send questions to him in care of The Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays KS 67601.