The music was loud, Champagne was overflowing and fringed dresses were floating around the dance floor. The 1920s were the height of care-free fun and exuberant excess. This was also the beginning of a revolutionary design period known as art deco. With its streamlined shapes and high-end materials, art deco exemplified luxury in a way that was sophisticated yet far from formal. People were living their best life. Unfortunately, you can’t travel back in time to experience the fervor firsthand, but you can recreate those roaring ’20s in your 21st-century home. No, we’re not talking about a Gatsby-themed party. This is something much more lasting: art deco lighting.
Not only do these fancy fixtures define your space with light, but they add that touch of glamour your space may be missing.
What is Art Deco Design?
You can better appreciate art deco lighting when you know how this decorative trend began. Art deco was an international design movement that took place between the 1920s and 1940s. World War I had just ended, so people were ripe for change. They were tired of the flowery Art Nouveau style and saw opportunity in something more streamlined.
As a result, artists and architects across the globe adopted this modern style. They were heavily influenced by the geometric shapes of cubism and bold colors of Parisian fauvism. These elements were creatively mixed with hints of Egyptian art and splashes of nature motifs – especially in home interiors.
Before the Great Depression hit, art deco designers used a lot of rich materials, including ivory, jade, crystal and lacquer. Surprisingly, the shift in wealth wasn’t the end of art deco. Instead, it took on a less-expensive façade through the 1930s with help from chrome and plastic. While the overall look and feel of art deco didn’t change, these cheaper materials made it easier for the middle class to carry the trend into the next decade.
Characteristics of art deco design:
- Streamlined forms
- Geometric shapes
- Bold, intense colors
- Man-made materials
- Exotic décor accessories
How to Spot Modern Art Deco Lighting
Traditional art deco lighting mirrors the interior design elements of the time. These are the oversized chandeliers featuring zig-zag or chevron patterns on repeat. They are also the vertical wall sconces with glass shades that are shaped like a fan and framed by a shiny metal finish. The glass shades are usually etched, sandblasted or enameled. And the color schemes never stray too far from beige, black and brown.
If you’re looking for something more modern, expect to find fixtures that are less bulky and better suited for a variety of design styles. They tend to have thinner lines and daintier accents than the art deco fixtures of years past. Geometry and patterns still apply, but they’re more subtle and less edgy. The materials are more in line with 2019 lighting trends as well. Brass, clear glass, marble and stainless steel are all popular choices.
7 Modern Art Deco Lighting Fixtures
Still not sure what defines modern art deco lighting? These shining examples of contemporary chandeliers and pendants will give you an idea of how far the design has come since the ’20s. Don’t be fooled. The era is forever evident in the shape and tone of each piece, but thanks to a few key upgrades these high-glam fixtures fit right into your modern home.
This is exactly how you pair art-deco glamour with mid-century modern simplicity. You’ll notice that the linear matrix of metal arms rise up like a 20th-century skyscraper. But true to the visual airiness of mid-century modern design, the rods are finger-thin. Even the incandescent light bulbs are streamlined, so as not to interrupt the flow of this lightweight chandelier.
Remember those classic art-deco zig-zags? This contemporary fixture echoes that pattern with its offset arms. When one globe points up, another faces down. But that’s not all. You also get the allure of opal-etched glass, which screams retro Hollywood. This conversation piece definitely deserves a spot above your dining room table, where there might be a set of armless plastic chairs to round out the look.
The six-pointed star that’s traditional art deco has taken on a slightly new form. It’s now a sputnik-style pendant, where dozens of prongs shoot out from the center of a metallic orb. It’s quirky and whimsical without a lot of fuss, which is exactly why it works in so many different settings. Try it at the foot of your bed, welcoming guests in your foyer or where luxury living is at its best – in your private dressing room.
Looking at this chandelier you can picture the free-flowing fringe on those flapper dresses. There’s no arguing that the cake-like layers and hand-rubbed brass finish are nods to vintage art deco fixtures. Not to mention, this piece has a long, vertical silhouette that is quintessential art deco. But what gives the Mia a modern flair are its delicate glass tubes. They’re made of clear glass – not sandblasted, etched or enameled – so the light remains pure and bright when it shines through.
Another fashion-inspired fixture, the Regis embodies elegant strands of pearls hanging from those plunging necklines. The only difference is these strands are made of a beaded metal chain and are paired with a classic candelabra. In the center of the pendant sit six soft bulbs that can effectively set the mood for an intimate dinner party. If you’re bold enough, hang two side-by-side over your kitchen island. Art deco kitchen lighting never looked so glitzy.
At first glance you might see a true mashup of crystal chandelier and contemporary art. But upon closer examination, you’ll notice the descending tiers of glass-and-crystal tubes, which are clearly influenced by 20th-century architecture. Not to mention the beigey silver finish is classic art deco décor. This fixture is nothing short of a statement piece, and it deserves to be treated as such in your entryway or main living space.
Is it the spirit of the ’20s that inspire you most? Infuse that same level of energy into your home with this starburst pendant. The pointed glass edges are not only a subtle geometric feature, but they add an extra dose of panache. In fact, the design is so bold that it can hold its own in a neutral color scheme. Let it shine in an all-white kitchen or above your white modular dinner table.
Deck Out in Art Deco
As you can see, modern art deco fixtures are a different breed of lighting. They defy design styles to bring you 20th-century glam in the most sophisticated way. From chandeliers that flow like flapper dresses to chrome pendants with an edgy shape, you can count on art deco ceiling lights to instantly upgrade your space. And if you aren’t ready to outfit your entire home, that’s okay. Dressing a single room in art deco lighting speaks volumes.