Beaten, battered and bruised from the past half-century’s turmoil, people went into the 60s clamouring to see a more positive vision for the future. The new millennium could not come any sooner. People looked beyond what they had in front of them, seeking to experiment and create new, positive things. They turned ‘The Future, Today!’ into a guiding mantra for everything from movies (2001: A Space Odyssey), music (The Beatles/Motown), culture (Love and Peace), science (Moon Landing) and architecture (Art Deco).
Today, the media is able to relive these pivotal 60s influences, all but one.
You may have encountered the term before, or stared in unexplainable nostalgia at one of its iconic buildings, but Art Deco remains one of the most obscure design movements between its formal definition and physical examples.
The eclectic Art Deco movement used smooth lines, geometric shapes, streamlined forms and bright, sometimes garish, colours. Mass produced materials such as chrome, plastics and Bakelite (think billiard ball) represented this opulent yet affordable reflection of the future.
Art Deco Down Under
From art to architecture, you can readily identify whether something is Art Deco: geometric shapes and sweeping curves, made of materials emulating a vibrant 60s idea of the future. Designers from GranDesignsWA.com.au say that Art Deco eliminated the bleak and boxy aesthetic of the early 20th century, retaining practical functionality as it circles the edges of avant-garde territory.
There are a handful of Art Deco buildings in Australia, like the Astor Theatre in Perth and the Mitchell House in Melbourne. All it took for these otherwise clean-cut traditional buildings to capture a feeling of futurism and nostalgia were symmetrical curved corners and numerous ‘wide-awake’ windows. The best thing is you can bring a bit of the 60s into your home as well, and just in time, as Art Deco is making a 2016 comeback.
Art Deco endured decades of war and fallout before it finally flourished, and now that people are seeking digital simplicity in everything they do, a throwback to the 20th century optimism school of design could not have come at a better time.