Discover Art Deco : A Graphic Design Style

May 14, 2024

Art Deco’s artwork appeared after World War I. It gained more popularity from 1920 till the 1940s. Art Deco represents world modernization, luxury, extravagance, glamour, glory, consumerism, and velocity.

This art influenced everything from the fashion industry to architecture. The graphic design uses geometric shapes, streamline, relative simplicity, and graphic elements.


A Short History of Art Deco Graphic Design

Art Deco is characterized by firm lines, reflecting masculinity. The Industrial Revolution in England, which happened at the end of the 19th century, affected it. 

At first, this art movement was called Moderne Style. It is soon adopted by various artworks such as statues, furniture, accessories, jewelry, posters, and other high value art.

You can tell that Paris is the center of its design, by looking at furniture models crafted by the best designer named Jacques Emile Ruhlmann. At that time, designers are free to interpret modern values to their designs. 

Apart from architecture, this spirit of freedom also inspires various elements of life. People really adore the designs, yet it lost its popularity after World War II.

Today’s artists experimented on Art Deco using new techniques or materials, such as glass, bakelite and plastics.

Those new techniques and materials created a modern creation such as lamps or ornaments. Art Deco often showcases strong color and abstract shapes domination such as triangle, open circle and ladder.

The strong and brave color selection is often paired or mingled with silver, chrome or shining black. While bright yellow, red, green, blue and pink were everyone’s favorite colors at that time.


Shape and Pattern Development in Art Deco Graphic Design 

Regardless of the time, Art Deco is still relevant to recent artwork and building. Even Bandung, Indonesia, was awarded as the 9th City of Art Deco in the world.

The people of Bandung still show their interest to this design by adopting it to their city images, pushing the growth and tourism attraction. It is seen on old buildings revitalizations, mainly endorsing Deco themes.  

This art design can be found as well in graphic designs. Particularly in geometric decorative elements which appear firm and solid. This is illustrated by straight, curve and cylinder lines. 

Every bold, liquid, and symmetrical Art Deco patterns and themes are reflecting the development of technology in every sector. Starting from trains to architecture which lead to changes in developing countries.

The distinguishing features of Art Deco are geometry, linearity and angle. They serve a strong, bold and non romantic look. Some furnitures, accessories or graphic designs often show below patterns:

  1. Floral Deco, creating a curved line using flower carving elements.
  2. Streamline Deco, creating a leaning curved line and highlighting long horizontal solid lines at once. Focusing on glossy and modern material use and replacing the old geometry detail patterns. 
  3. Zig Zag Deco, creating a pattern with sharp and firm lines then being repeated to harmonious zig zag pattern.

Apart from three patterns above, this design also showcases such patterns; chevron, trapezium, triangle, ziggurat, curve, and sunray even a wild animal pose.

Another element to add is sensual points (sometimes abstract or nude female figures). Don’t forget to place jagged and pointy drawings, inspired by the skyscrapers, on the edge.


Art Deco in Graphic Designs and Typography 

Originally, Art Deco was commonly expressed through graphic design models. From illustration, photo to elegant cover adopts this concept for famous magazine headlines.

Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar and La Gazette du Bon Ton are getting more popular, thanks to the concept. Vanity Fair’s graphic design in 1919 endorsed so many Art Deco elements for its cover.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s was advertising prime time. There were many Art Deco themed posters looking sleek and simple, with a monochromatic background. One of them is a Moulin Rounge poster.

That poster design used famous dancers or singers at that time. It also included other common patterns such as smoking women, steamers and airplanes.

The rapid development in technology and editing applications makes Art Deco posters get the spotlight they deserve. You can see it from making geometry elements as the main feature and more empty rooms in the poster.

Art Deco applies uppercase lettering only in typography and mostly uses for title or branding. While more elegant fonts are used for wedding invitations, magazine covers or luxury packaging.

Formerly, people wanted to have both luxury interiors and daily things around them. Applying Deco typography on a cake box or tea chest would change them into a fine art.

Typography is rapidly growing today. Some popular fonts are Brilon, Hazel Deco and London. A lot of experiments were done using those fonts, creating simpler and geometrical fonts.


Art Deco on Logo and Packaging Designs

For packaging design, Art Deco is easily noticed from the selected font and pattern usage. It only comes with two or three colors.

One color is for the background, the other one or two colors are for the fonts and display elements. Sometimes, it also adds a gold hue to emphasize the luxurious feel. 

The patterns are mainly clear, linier, and luxurious but not too much.  It also uses flower elements which possibly create free-style shapes. For example, Balsam of Wild Cherry packaging from Wistar.

In the early 20th century, dark color dominated the packaging and designers added more ornaments. Compared to  today’s digital era, Art Deco’s color is more lively and highly contrasted.

Take a look at Lebu Copi packaging for an Art Deco approach or Swizz Chez Christophe chocolate for showcasing an elegant vibe. 

Typography is a crucial element in Art Deco packaging. Only, some graphic designs show it differently. Such as the premium chocolate packaging of Ricardo Olivera, uses minimalism font approach.

Le Tavolette Classiche, a Feletti work, uses decorative fonts. Next, we have Caitlin Workman’s wedding invitation which endorses modest font and wedding gown pattern.

From its characteristics, Graphic design style is huge. Deco was intentionally designed to highlight contrast, luxurious and complicated vibes, for more attractive work to see.

Eventhough its classic style is nearly found 100 years ago, but this artwork look is relatively modern. Clean with a few ornaments on graphic design makes Art Deco look appealing and minimalist.

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