Design Under the Influence: Art Deco

Hello again, it’s Erika from small shop, here to cover a bit about Art Deco influences and motifs. I had honestly been avoiding tackling this massive topic simply because the vast amount of deco influences seen in today’s design world is overwhelming! To streamline my efforts, I’m going to talk about the historical context, the main motifs, and those seen in modern day examples in decor and fashion.


The Art Deco movement of the late 1920’s to the early 1940’s included all principles of design, from architecture to interiors, to product and textile design, to art and literature. You could sum up the factors that most influenced the birth of the movement into three:

#1: Post-WWI/Depression Era From the horrors of war grew a need for a sense of progress, practicality and sophistication, and a recall of a past glamour lost.

#2: Archaeological Finds of the 1920’s The unearthing of Pompeii, Tut’s Tomb, Troy, and Mesoamerican sites created an excitement for all things Roman, Egyptian and Aztec/Mayan.

#3: The Machine Age Later, with the invention of modern aviation, cinema, large ocean liners and electric lighting came man-made materials like aluminum, stainless steel, chrome and plastics. Out grew a simplicity in form and construction, and an aerodynamic aesthetic.


When you consider the above, it’s no wonder that geometric patterning and mathematical shapes reigned supreme, such as these major motifs:


While the countless examples of Art Deco motifs in decor and products can be found, I was particularly struck by the quite literal interpretations seen on the S/S 12 runways:

But we definitely have seen a resurgence of late in interiors and product design!

Mary McDonald

Osborne & Little "Minaret"

Jeff Andrews for Khloe Kardashian

Kelly Wearstler "Grand Ziggurat"

House of Harlow 1960

Maison 21 for Joss & Main

via Design*Sponge

Mark Chamberlain via Lonny

Charles Hollis Jones


Christian Louboutin

Osborne & Little "Volte" and "Minaret" Arts & Crafts UK "Manhattan" / "Shand Kydd"

Mary McDonald

Atmosphere Interior Design


Molly Luetkemeyer

I looked around my home, and didn’t realize how many Art Deco-inspired pieces I’ve incorporated as well! Take a look around, you may be surprised too.

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. Art Deco has always been my favorite period and inspires every single thing I do – even if you can’t see it, a hint of it is there. Thanks for this amazing post, Erika!
    xoxo -e (modern24seven)

  2. I never realized how much art deco has inspired the current trends in interior design. As much as I love the patterns, do I dare say some of them are becoming trending?

  3. My favorite series, I love how Erika combines all my lifestyle loves and I learn something everytime! I’m a huge fan of art deco and this was by far my fav lesson. It’s safe to say I want to live a life in this post, wearing those shoes!! xoxo