Echoes of Deco: 'Gatsby' film renews interest in art deco period

Echoes of Deco: 'Gatsby' film renews interest in art deco period

May 18th, 2013 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

A scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures, drama 'THE GREAT GATSBY.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Art deco is making a comeback.

Art deco is making a comeback.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Art deco in Chattanooga

* Joel Solomon Federal Building: Next time you drop off a letter at the downtown post office by Miller Plaza, check the linear lines, the stylized eagles flanking its concrete steps at entrance doors or the interior motifs that are natural waves but still very controlled in their design.

* Hickey-Freeman Building: This architectural beauty at 809 Market St. once housed Hardie & Caudle men's clothing store and is the new home of Blacksmith's Bistro. Its exterior is art deco in the design of the windows and patterned tiles inset in the brick near the roofline.

* 11th Street Police Station: It exterior sign is pure art deco.

Source: Rodney Simmons, Internet sites


Here's how to bring a touch of art deco into your home:

* The Skyscraper design: Tiered or "stepped" vertical lines; it's common in mirrors and tables.

* Geometric patterns: Textiles woven with stripes, zigzags, chevrons, interlocking patterns.

* Rich woods: Rosewood, burled wood, tiger's eye maple.

* Shine: Black lacquer, mirrors, chrome.

* Bold color: Vermilion green, cobalt blue, red, gold, black.

In the 1920s, the art deco period emerged as a reflection of the nation's rapid industrialization. The Machine Age was changing America's culture, and art deco's style captured the luxury, elegance and exuberance of the Roaring '20s.

"Art deco was kind of a counternote to Victorianism, which was a look that was really overwrought," says Rodney Simmons, principal designer at Revival Studio in Warehouse Row. "That whole Jazz Age, everything was the opposite of Victorianism. People were looking to movies out of Hollywood for the first time to inform them about design and fashion."

More than 90 years later, merchandising still takes its cue from Hollywood.

Baz Luhrmann's depiction of the Roaring '20s in "Gatsby," which stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel "The Great Gatsby," is renewing interest in the fashion and art deco design of that period.

Tiffany & Co., which designed the film's jewelry, has created a Ziegfield Collection and The Great Gatsby Collection. Brooks Brothers and Prada have debuted clothing lines based on the period. Kohl's department store has released fashions and a home-accent collection influenced by art deco, according to Kohl's publicist Sarah Schmidt.

"It's exciting that more glamour and romanticism characterized by the art deco movement is coming into vogue for home design," says Cindy Tidwell of Southern Accessories and Accents in Dalton, Ga. "We have been in a period where we are living

more casually with more rustic interiors and casual finishes."

The easiest way to incorporate the art deco look into your home's current design is a few key accessories, Tidwell suggests.

"We would focus on incorporating the more timeless aspects of the period, the glamorous finishes and decidedly modern lines," she advises.

Simmons says the classic example of art deco is New York City's Chrysler Building. Its iconic stairstepped exterior with terraced crown was the inspiration for art deco's vertical tiers -- often described as the skyscraper design. Consumers can find that look in today's market in mirrors whose frames are stepped to a point or in stepped side tables, he says.

"I've done a lot of art deco rooms in the past year," says Hank Matheny, owner of Haskell's Interiors in Cleveland, Tenn. "Art deco furniture and accessories have a lot of clean lines, are very architectural in style. The period is a great style to choose if you are looking for that transitional look between contemporary and traditional."

Matheny, who's certified by the American Society of Interior Designers, says art deco immediately brings to mind elegant and rich woods: rosewood, burled wood, tiger's eye maple.

"There is no fussiness to art deco," he says. "It is bold, clean and simple."

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfree or 423-757-6284.