By Isabel Clift
These ten examples of Art Deco brilliance around the world make me want to throw on three sets of pearls, a fur stole (it’s ok, it’s a very good fake) and dance like it’s 1929. I came out of Baz Luhrman’s visually epic Great Gatsby hungering to see some more real-life examples of ’20s and ’30s archictectural design – and I expect you did too. Scroll down to feast your eyes…
1. Fisher Building, Detroit
Called “Detroit’s largest art object”, the 30-story Fisher Building was completed in 1928 and sits slap bang in the centre of town. The lobby (pictured) is the jewel in its crown, devised by Hungarian artist Géza Maróti using over 40 kinds of marble.
2. Union Station, Los Angeles
LA’s main rail transit hub Union Station is a gorgeous example of the late Deco-era Streamline Moderne architectural style (born of Depression cutbacks and aeronautical design). It opened in 1939.
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3. Diner, Morro Bay California
This abandoned diner in California’s Morro Bay looks like a giant jukebox. Its use of stainless steel, aluminium, high-contrast colours and curved geometric decoration are all hallmarks of Art Deco design.
4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Called the ‘world’s most beautiful bridge’ by many a design nerd, Joseph Stauss’s 1937 elegant burnt-orange structure includes clean-lined geometric decorations on the towers as well as Deco-style streetlights, railings and walkways.
5. Art Deco, Miami
Stacked together like retro building blocks, this is one of the many examples of super-colourful Art Deco design in Miami. I wasn’t able to find out this building’s name – can anyone tell me in the comments?
6. Chrystler Building, New York City
The Chrystler Building is Art Deco for many. Its sunburst-style tower is still one of the jam-packed New York skyline’s biggest eye-grabbers, with a stainless steel coating giving it extra sparkle in sunlight. William Van Alan was head designer, and the building completed in 1931.
7. Le Grand Rex Cinema, Paris
Le Grand Rex owns Europe’s largest cinema screen, and is the largest cinema, theatre and music venue in Paris with 2800 seats. It’s seen as the city’s landmark of Art Deco archictecure, opening in 1932 with a distinctive tower on the roof and an “atmospheric theatre” interior, meaning the indoor ceiling is painted to look like a dome of outdoor night sky.
8. The Carbide & Carbon Building, Chicago
Legend has it Daniel and Hubert Burnham designed this 1929 Chicago landmark to look like a dark green Champagne bottle with gold foil wrapped around the top – could it be more symbolic of the Roaring Twenties? Originally office space, the building was re-opened as a Hard Rock Hotel in 2004. Its body is made from black granite, while its tower is dark green terra cotta with gold leaf bringing the dazzle.
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9. The Chanin Building, New York
New York’s 1927 Chanin Building has its best Art Deco design details at street level. Belgian black marble wraps around the base, with a bronze frieze illustrating evolution running along the storefronts and a terra cotta frieze above that depicting curling leaves, stalks and flowers. The bronze theme continues in the lobby, with eight Rene Paul Chambellan-designed reliefs placed above ornately decorated radiator grilles and decorative details on the floor, elevator doors and mailboxes.
10. Michelin House, London
Michelin employee François Espinasse designed the bizarre and beautiful Michelin House, which opened as company offices in 1911 in Chelsea, London. Three stained glass windows show Michelin man Bibendum in scenes from adverts at the time, and tiles at street level depict contemporary racing cars that used Michelin tyres. Two cupolas are designed to look like piles of tyres, and a mosaic on the lobby floor shows Bibendum with the caption “Nunc Est Bibendum” (Latin for: “Now is the time to drink”). Delightful.
Are there any we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments…
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Hero image c. Warner Bros. Thanks to Fisher Building Facebook, szeke, Puliarf, paraflyer, Roberto_ventre, coloros, dalbera, Dave Lindblom, stu_spivack, Teleyinex, colros, cogito ergo imago, swanksalot, swanksalot, cogito ergo imago, Liftam for the images. Please note, all images were held under the Creative Commons licence at the time of publication.