Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Getting Art Deco'd

Art Deco is one of my favorite stylistic periods. Popular in the 20s and 30s, it responded to the particular conditions of a modernizing world. Its geometric shapes, stepped forms and sweeping curves paralleled the forms found in cities, as the country - and the world - became increasingly urban.

The use of stainless steel, aluminum, inlaid wood and lacquer was influenced by the rise of modern technology, in particular the train. Art Deco also drew heavily on 'exotic' materials such as zebra skin, and on the aesthetic of ancient cultures like that of Egypt, Babylon and the Aztecs, a reflection of the popularity of archaeology during that period.

The opulence by which Art Deco is marked was the result of the end of WWI and the years of sacrifice it necessitated. Art Deco's strong lines always seem to push forward. It's no surprise, given the desire for exploration and progress during that age. After all, technology allowed people, for the first time, to travel the globe with some ease, and to construct buildings that reached the heavens (think invention of the elevator).

Art Deco is showy and bright and unapologetic, and I love it. It's also extremely ecclectic, a result, F. Scott Fitzgerald suggested, of all the nervous energy pent up during the war years. Art Deco made a resurgence in the 1960s, as I'm sure most of us know, if only from Mad Men mania (honestly, when does the next season start?!).

Lucky for me, Old Hollywood is just full of Art Deco inspired pieces.

Jene DeSpain's pieces are grouped by decade, like the Roaring 10s, and named in homage to different architectural landmarks - like these Chrysler Earrings. Handmade from all American materials right here in Brooklyn, these brass gems are adorned with a red carnelian and go for $72 (they also come in black and green onyx, garnet, hematite and blue quartz). I bought them myself and I've never gotten so many compliments on a piece of jewelry.
TomTom's jewelry has a more space age feel to it - that 60s interpretation of Art Deco, like this necklace, aptly named in honor of the blastoff, "4...3...2...1" Available in 18K gold plate ($325) and oxidized sterling silver ($315). It's next on my Old Hollywood shopping list.


We've also got Nissa, whose ecclectic line features some Deco-inspired pieces, rings especially. Par example, this double bar ring, seen in oxidized brass for $90 (also available in oxidized sterling silver, gunmetal and antiqued gold, but I'm a brass fan myself).

God, working at a place with such beautiful stuff is honestly dangerous. I can't even remember my last paycheck.