Art Deco updates: A classic look reimagined by Adobe Stock

Credit: Adobe Stock / wacomka

One hundred years ago, Art Deco emerged as a major movement first in art, then architecture, design, and fashion, an aesthetic that would define the 1920s and ‘30s. Now, a century later, Art Deco is back in vogue – with some decidedly modern updates.

Nothing has staying power like classy and classic: The influence of Art Deco is everywhere, and many of its original standouts remain. Both the Chrysler and the Empire State buildings are heralded as pinnacles of Art Deco architecture — the former was constructed in 1933, the latter in 1930 — and these two structures helped put New York City’s iconic skyline on the map (so to speak). Deco, too, are the timeless designs from luxury jewelers Cartier, Tiffany, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Painter Tamara de Lempika, known for her richly detailed, lightly cubist portraits and nudes, worked in the Art Deco style, as did poster designer AM Cassandre.

Credit: Adobe Stock / alaver (a Cassandre-inspired illustration)

Now, visual artists are reimagining the look and feel of the old style, both in digital and physical renderings, with inventive, modern twists that inspired us here at Adobe Stock to name this design trend “Art Deco Updates.” (See all of our annual creative trends here). Deco has become a 3D designer’s playground; artists have turned Art Deco architecture’s marble forms and translucent surfaces into 3D shapes, using them as structural backdrops for other elements or as the main attraction in a still life. All the brushed brass textures, acetate blocks, chrome frames, and painstakingly precise object arrangements are a nod to Deco, too.

Credit: Adobe Stock / wacomka

Credit: Adobe Stock / Екатерина Птушко

Analog visual art is getting in on the resurgence as well. Two popular mediums, geode-inspired resin casting and acrylic pour or “flow” painting, borrow directly from Art Deco and its sleek, abstract designs, metallic accents, and careful attention to texture.

Decades of Deco

This new flavor of Art Deco leans heavily on the significant history behind it — a history within history, as the foundation for the Art Deco aesthetic came from French trends in fine art directly preceding it. “That period was very heavily influenced by the bold geometric forms of Cubism and bright colors of fauvism,” says Nami Berglund, curator for Behance. Fauvism, a style of art that involved a wild, unnatural use of color, is popular once again in photo app filters, Berglund also notes — a little nod to Deco in an unlikely place.

Credit: Adobe Stock / Polar Vectors

The “roaring ‘20s,” Berglund says, was when Art Deco truly came into its own, primarily in Europe and the United States. “It was considered to be the last renaissance in style, where people really got to enjoy fancy things: the costumes, [the] little hats with feathers, long pearl necklaces, dresses with beads, the elegant wallpaper.”

Credit: Adobe Stock / Vilmos

After World War II, however, everything changed. “They took off all the beautiful bits,” Berglund says. Gone were the grand marble slabs, the delicate brass inlay, the vivid colors. “[Design] became strictly functional,” says Berglund, “stripped down to a utilitarian style.”

But the Art Deco influence, despite lean times, war, and new movements both social and artistic, has enjoyed a rare longevity. A perfect example of this is Chanel’s ubiquitous perfume, “No. 5.” The blocky, cut-glass bottle has changed very little since its introduction in 1924, and No. 5 remains both wildly popular as a scent and instantly recognizable as a product design.

Art Deco’s new debut

As much as the recent resurgence of Art Deco work draws from the original style, the Art Deco Updates design trend also pays homage to a more recent past.

“You can see the remnants of the Art Deco period in Florida, for example,” Berglund says, noting the pastel colors, geometric patterns, and smooth roundness of swimming pools and archways the area became famous for in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The emerging new era of Art Deco-inspired work, which Berglund refers to as the “roaring 2020s,” sees creatives look across the decades for inspiration.

Credit: Adobe Stock / nitade

And there couldn’t be a better time for it; while we shelter in place, imagery of calm elegance is providing a much-needed visual break from the day-to-day sameness. “I think people are missing holidays and vacations,” Berglund says. “These usages of marbles, glass, arches — it’s a doorway, or a window. So, I think, mentally, people are imagining themselves going somewhere.”

For more inspiration, check out our curated Art Deco Updates gallery on Adobe Stock.