Ultra-Cool Art Deco

Art Deco. That glamorous, sensuous, luxurious style of décor which first Europe, then America, fell in love with during the two decades that bracketed world wars I and II.

If the turn-of-the-century Arts and Crafts movement was all about the virtues of simplicity, nature, and handicraft, then Art Deco represented the rapturous embrace of all things sleekly industrial, gorgeously streamlined, and fiercely polished. There are as many opinions on Art Deco as there are plot twists in a soap opera.

All agree that the style, born in France, was showcased to a fare-thee-well at the 1925 Paris World’s Fair, but some then say that Art Deco elevated form over function to a foolish degree. Some say that the style’s inspiration derived instead from the 1922 opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb and the ensuing worldwide fascination with the Egyptian treasures found inside. And some say that, in America, the craze blossomed first in Miami, not New York.

However, many now say that Art Deco was not only the first modern expression of style for the 20th century, but an iconic standard for the 21st. Here in Wichita, one of the best collections of all things Art Deco can be found at Eclectiques.

Or, if browsing is your pleasure, take in the current exhibition, American Art Deco, Designing for the People 1918–1939, at Wichita Art Museum, now through May.—By Kat Schneider