The Art Deco period became synonymous with certain pieces of furniture. Examples of these were wardrobes, dressing tables, the three piece suite and the cocktail cabinet all of which particularly reflected the geometric and abstract designs of the Art Deco period. Although these pieces were not necessarily a product of Art Deco except that is for the cocktail cabinet, in terms of generally used furniture they came to represent it.
Art Deco draws its name from the Exposition des Art Décoratifs et Industrielles, which was held in Paris in 1925. Originally the exhibition was due to take place in 1915 as a forward looking event rather that the retrospective it became in 1925 but the onset of World War One prevented this.
Although it was the French who literally stole the show, the year following the exhibition, it was a German stand at the Salon d’Automne in Paris that began to step clear of the whiplash designs of the Art Nouveau to progressive modern styles more in line with neo-classicism. This prompted French designers to look again at neo-classicism but this time with a modernist and abstract eye and future furniture designs using abstract motifs began to reflect these new modernist ideas. It was fashion designers like Paul Poiret that took Art Deco forward. The most famous furniture designer of the period was Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann who came to dominate post WW1 French interior décor. He would use exotic woods and rare veneers for the geometric motifs that often decorated his furniture. However costs involved in manufacture meant that these pieces were only available to the very wealthy.
Mass production followed to satisfy a growing middle class market. Although designs by Ruhlmann are prohibitively expensive these days, it is possible to pick up reasonably priced Art Deco antique furniture through Preston and London antique dealers.
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