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  • Writer's pictureNHC

How 1920’s And 1930’s Design Has Influenced Design Today

Constantly being inspired by the past, many of our recent and indeed current projects at draw inspiration from 1920’s and 1930’s design. But why have these decades had such a lasting influence Interior Design?

Design in the 1920s and 1930s was primarily decorative, with a tendency for minimalism towards the end, a development that comes after the start of the 20th century, and continues to evolve after World War I.

It manifested itself through an onslaught of details, but design eras and trends in this time manage to maintain clean lines and a certain geometry to their designs. Like most novelty in the arts at the time, elements of design specific to the 20s and 30s first appeared in Paris, France.

The Lasting Influence Of Art Deco

While these decades saw several design trends and elements, including Spanish Revival, Mission Revival, Art Deco, Art Moderne (Streamline), International, and Minimal Traditional, Art Deco (Arts Décoratifs) is probably one of the biggest influences we witness in interior design, with its geometric patterns, unapologetically bold colours, and elegant shapes. It’s all about elegant juxtaposition – an overload of details and design elements, but in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the eye.

Careful Geometry In Furniture And Architecture

We can see echoes of Art Deco in the geometry that’s currently present in interior trends, like hexagonal mirrors, or carefully curated at-home gallery walls; don’t think for a second that the effect created by the black and white frames is accidental.

This geometry can also be seen in architecture; one of the most representative examples is the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées – the decorative elements can certainly be observed, but they enhance the design, instead of overwhelming it.

Mechanical Design Over Comfort

Another aspect we’ve “inherited” from 20s and 30s trends is the use of wrought iron and steel in furniture. Post-World War I, it became more and more present in the modern designs at the time, including pieces like the Wassily Chair, created by Marcel Breuer. The designer himself admitted it was his “most extreme work…the least artistic, the most logical, the least ‘cosy’ and the most mechanical.”

Minimalism Has Its Roots In The 20s

Predictably, after a period of over-embellishment followed one of no unnecessary decorative details. Minimalism started gaining traction among designers starting almost immediately after Art Deco, with Art Moderne. That trend followed and was augmented in the designs of International and Minimal Traditional.

We see the same tendency towards minimalism today, with clean lines, minimal to no embellishment, and no unnecessary space being utilised. It’s an elegant, almost utilitarian design, but that maintains a certain luxury given by the monochrome palette and reflects current values and our society’s movement towards a minimal lifestyle, with little excess.

For the team at Nigel Howard Creative, so many designs from almost a century ago are still inspiring to us and an essential resource. 1920’s and 1930’s design constantly finds a place in today’s interior design and architecture. On many projects we undertake, we continue to reinvent and improve upon the same basic concepts that inform our ideas today.

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