“We know that art is subjective because everyone sees art differently,” she said. “Art can be a picture of a horse your child drew that is hanging on the refrigerator. We learned that a simple stick painting of a giraffe discovered on a cave wall in France is art and also learned it was a form of communication.
n Accessories. Vintage French deco clocks, vintage radios and phonographs, vintage ceramic vases, art deco posters and vintage framed art prints from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Paul Klee are great additions for this look. You might also include an elegant floral display.
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Willetts Design & Associates Dorothy Willetts chose to use whites and primary colors for the furnishings and accessories, so as to not fight with the accent wall color and this piece, “Entreaty,” by Damien Hirst.
Willetts Design & Associates The golden age of Hollywood included several design styles that shared similar traits, two of which were art deco and Hollywood regency. Both include highly lacquered and/or polished finishes, the use of exotic woods, geometric motifs, chrome and anything that created a feeling of richness.
Edward Steichen’s black and white photographs complement the overall design of the room.
And as a designer with deep roots in contemporary design, it just may be that art deco holds a special appeal to me because the style and modern design truly complement each other. Art deco lends a touch of sophistication to the simplicity that’s inherent in contemporary design with its emphasis on clean lines, minimalist furnishings and accessories, and generally simple color palettes with neutrals and earth tones being the most popular along with white or beige.
Should you be interested in incorporating an art deco theme in your home’s design, the following basics should be considered:
n Furniture. Again, sleek is the key word with highly lacquered finishes and elegant curves. Furniture should be comfortable and yet glamorous. Wood furniture should be of rosewood, walnut, maple, teak or zebra wood. Chrome, stainless steel, glass and vinyl can be combined with upscale upholstery such as leather or exotic zebra print. Finally, large scale pieces such as armoires, sideboards and oversized chairs, lounges and sofas are often used with this style.
Willetts is a strong believer in art education. At the same time that art is expressing the visual narrative of the homeowner, it is fostering creativity for the children in the home.
Yes, art deco truly is experiencing a resurgence. Perhaps because, as the newspaper article said, “a sense of uncertainty tends to drive people to seek structure and stability.” At the same time, period pieces and reproductions in this iconic style are becoming highly sought after.
Willetts, a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers, is based in Palm Springs, California. She said art can be everywhere in the home, including the bathroom.
Willetts is owner and principal of Willetts Design & Associates, an interior design company. She also is an art consultant.
COURTESY Art deco is a streamlined, geometric style that often includes furniture pieces with curved fronts, mirrors, clean lines, chrome hardware and glass
n Color. Be sure to include as many neutrals as possible in your color palette such as beige, tan, taupe, brown, black, gray, silver and white because of the minimalist nature of this design style. Use muted or bold colors sparingly such as green, red, maroon and blue.
Art deco will give you a look that is at once retro, simple and, yet, very up to date. It’s bold and innovative but also inviting and comfortable at the same time, which is exactly why its influence is still with us after all these years. And whether it’s a total art deco look you’re after or just elements to be blended with your existing contemporary home, I encourage you to go for it because there are no hard guidelines or rules to follow when it comes to this style and a great deal of room for interpretation.
A recent newspaper headline that read “Less lavish, more modern, art deco is returning” caught my attention and had me thinking back to a time growing up in New York City and the wonder and pride I felt (and still do) about the great art deco buildings such as the Chrysler, the Empire State and, of course, the fabulous Radio City Music Hall. The thrill I felt about visiting these world-class architectural wonders remains with me to this day. Such is the power of the art deco style.
n Mirrors. Mirrors and more mirrors, geometric or not, with or without shiny silver or chrome frames in addition to mirrored furniture, when possible. They’re a key element in the art deco design scheme along with lighting.
“I tell people to go to galleries, big and small, and to study and learn. Go to art shows and art fairs. Get to know the artist. Walk around and expose yourself to different styles and ideas and colors. It’s like going to a library. The more educated you become, the more comfortable you become, and you will soon discover what you like.”
“I encourage a different mood or environment for each room of the home,” she said. “The biggest misconception is that you can’t buy original art for $75. However, there is a great amount of ‘outsider’ art, sometimes referred to as street art. Struggling artists are creating beautiful and imaginative pieces in Las Vegas, and one day that struggling artist may become known. So the piece you bought for $75 today may become a very valuable original.
Willetts Design & Associates The French art deco lounge chair repeats the linear motif of the Sean Scully etchings with its striped Macassar ebony frame and adds a feminine silhouette to the room. The hand-cast bronze side table is both masculine and feminine in its lines and organic in design.
Willetts recalls when she was asked to redo an entry room. The focal point was a painting featuring a woman in a vibrant orange and red dress. She chose dark red to repaint the adjoining walls and added a modern cast bronze table with Steuben teardrop crystal candle holders that were framed by 19th-century antique side chairs. The overall effect created a dramatic and elegant entry.
“Last year I took on the challenge of transforming one room into 12 different looks in 24 hours,” she said. “I wanted to create different rooms using different design styles and influences such as art deco, art nouveau and Hollywood regency. And then I wanted to show that you can use any type of art in these different room settings.
Willetts Design & Associates Ceilings and soffits in custom-painted silver, gold and champagne tones add luminous shine, complemented by the large-scale Cambria floor tiles, all of which work together to reflect the desert light of this remodeled Indian Wells, California, home.
The artwork was sourced from a Los Angeles showroom.
A recent newspaper headline that read “Less lavish, more modern, art deco is returning” caught my attention and had me thinking back to a time growing up in New York City and the wonder and pride I felt (and still do) about the great art deco buildings such as the Chrysler, the Empire State and, of course, the fabulous Radio City Music Hall. The thrill I felt about visiting these world-class architectural wonders remains with me to this day. Such is the power of the art deco style. What exactly is it about art deco to have exerted such an influence and lasting impression on a designer like myself? To start with, it was the most fashionable international design movement in modern art from 1925 until the 1940s, and it embraced all types of art, including crafts and fine arts. It was applied to interior design, furniture, jewelry, textiles, fashion and industrial design, and architecture. Basically, art deco is a streamlined, geometric style that often includes furniture pieces with curved fronts, mirrors, clean lines, chrome hardware and glass — and it’s elegant in its use of angular, balanced geometric shapes.
n Lighting. Again, streamlined, ultra-modern, zig-zag and geometric designs are best for ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, table and floor lamps. Lamp bases are typically made of brass, nickel, bronze, aluminum, wrought iron, ceramic or chrome with glass shades in white, clear, frosted, etched or colored. Adding long fringe, tassels or even beads to lampshades is a great way to achieve this look.
It has been cognitively proven that art in the home helps develop a child’s mental and social skills. If children become interested in art, it can boost their ability to analyze and solve problems, improve motor skills and eventually make them feel good about themselves, because art boosts self-confidence.
Basically, art deco is a streamlined, geometric style that often includes furniture pieces with curved fronts, mirrors, clean lines, chrome hardware and glass — and it’s elegant in its use of angular, balanced geometric shapes.
Furniture and its many accessories are also art. A rug can be framed or mounted on a piece of linen, and it becomes a lovely tapestry. Chairs and lamps from different decades and countries are art and can complement the room and the items in it.
What exactly is it about art deco to have exerted such an influence and lasting impression on a designer like myself? To start with, it was the most fashionable international design movement in modern art from 1925 until the 1940s, and it embraced all types of art, including crafts and fine arts. It was applied to interior design, furniture, jewelry, textiles, fashion and industrial design, and architecture.
But, add to the mix eclectic influences coming from the primal arts of Aztec Mexico, Africa and Egypt executed with materials such as aluminum, inlaid wood, lacquer, shagreen, stainless steel and zebra skin in zigzagged and stepped patterns, sweeping curves and lines, chevron patterns and sunburst shapes and what designer’s heart wouldn’t be stirred? Certainly, all are characteristics of a design style appealing to my own aesthetic sensibilities and to countless aficionados around the world.
n Flooring. Sleek materials and colors are the way to go with flooring choices. Think black and white checkered tile, marble or glossy hardwood floors. You can complement the look with an art deco style area rug featuring geometric designs.
n Fabrics. Try to use luxurious fabrics such as silk and velvet (often with bold geometric designs) that will add texture and interest to your home, even though they may be similar colors of your overall palette. Be sure to avoid any kind of flowery or floral prints on upholstery and fabrics. Art deco-style furniture is generally characterized by solid color fabrics in neutral colors or patterns along with richly colored leather, vinyl, suede and mohair.
Willetts Design & Associates These three Pablo Picasso lithographs from the Fumeur Series were conceived around August of 1964. Oddly enough, the other artwork in this room, “Landscape (On the Way to New Lisbon, NY)” by artist Michael Goldberg, was also painted in 1964.
Goldberg’s use of the same color palette and the abstract expressionist style of this piece make it the perfect complement to Picasso’s pieces.
“I used antiques and reproductions, sculptural pieces, prints, paintings, photography, ceramics and styles such as modernism, abstract, expressionism and surrealism. I did this to show that art can influence the design of a room. But I also wanted to show that the design of the room, meaning the furniture, can also dictate the art. It works both ways.”
Stephen Leon is a licensed interior designer and president of Soleil Design (www.soleildezine.com); he has been designing and manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry for more than 25 years. He is past president of the Central California/Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers and is a certified professional in green residential design. Questions can be sent to [email protected]
“When you start to place art in the home, start with something familiar like realism or maybe familiar photography and then move to different genres. It has to be something you love — something that makes you happy or something that brings back a fond memory of your childhood or family. Most people know what they want, and I only listen and advise.”
n Window coverings. Be sure to keep them simple and understated.
The interior of a home conveys a visual narrative about the life and interests of its owners. Dorothy Willetts spoke these words at a panel discussion titled “Start With the Art” at the Winter 2018 Las Vegas Market, held Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at the World Market Center.
“My point is that, if you have a beautiful antique on display, make a reference to it by displaying it with a modern piece of art,” she said. “Let the color or style of furniture add to what is being shown. Display large format art on large walls for more impact and feel free to move pieces around from one room to another. Change them out. But always remember that, whatever you do, it must meet your criteria of what you enjoy.”
When Willetts meets a new client, her conversation eventually leads to one main question: What is the feeling you want in your home and from your home?