Trendspotting: Art deco makes a bold comeback

The simple, elegant style is taking on a lasting, timeless appeal.

The sleek black and gold One Fifth collection from Ralph Lauren Home has clear art deco influence. Courtesy of Vertis Communications
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Art deco - that eclectic style from the 1930s that we are all familiar with - has influenced all areas of design, from architecture and interiors to the visual arts and industrial design. And it seems to be enjoying a comeback.

The art deco movement began in Paris in the 1920s and continued to thrive throughout the 1930s and into the Second World War. Named after the 1925 exhibition Les Années 25, art deco drew its inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms, and came to represent elegance, glamour and functionality.

A significant departure from its predecessor, art nouveau, it embraced various styles from the early 20th century, including modernism and neoclassical. It is credited with influencing the pop art and Memphis movements, and it experienced a small resurgence after Bevis Hillier published the first book on the subject in 1968. Traces of art deco can even be seen in the graphic designs of the 1980s.

Today, the simple, elegant forms of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in New York still stand as the epitome of the movement. Here in the UAE, the style can be seen in Al Kazim Towers in Dubai Media City and in Neos Restaurant at The Address in Downtown Dubai. Decorative yet futuristic finishes in Neos include sliced columns and stainless steel surfaces.

The Ritz-Carlton in DIFC offers more subtle art deco features: linear geometric patterns in subdued pastel colours grace wallcoverings, soft furnishings and the detailing on side cabinets and tables. Accessories such as table lamps, vases and sculptures come with a suitably pared down art deco flourish.

The revival of art deco has spread to the high street, too. Ralph Lauren Home's Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, One Fifth, is named after an iconic apartment building in Manhattan. The line features a sleek black and warm gold palette with luxe leather and shagreen materials. My favourites include the Heaton Mesh throw pillow in black with mesh overlay gold stripes, and the Callia Diamond dessert plate with its notable Aztec influence.

Other highlights include the handsome 1920s styled Slipper chair with gilded brass feet and a silver plated brass Montgomery punch bowl. The clean lines and bold geometric patterns are typical of the striking deco movement and, coupled with modern textures and feminine edges, the collection is extravagant but majestic, in every way evocative of the glamorous New York jazz era of the 1920s.

Anthony Hughes is a trend spotter at Scarlet Opus. For more information visit and