The striking lines of Art Deco are easily distinguishable. First appearing in France before WWI, this futuristic design influenced both building architecture and everyday objects like radios and light fixtures. Notably, this era was all about luxurious materials. Many objects from this era were made with high-quality glass, steel, chrome, or polished bronze.
After the natural lines of Art Nouveau from the late 1800s, Art Deco had a more structural approach, represented in buildings like the Chrysler or Empire State Building. If you’re looking for Art Deco in Seattle, the Asian Art Museum (built in 1933) showcases this design period in all its glory.
At Earthwise, we love Art Deco, specifically in our lighting section. When you’re at all of our locations, look upward. You’ll likely see many Art Deco light shades straight from the 1920s and 30s.
Here are some of the most popular art deco light designs that we sell regularly:
Slip, or slipper shades were popular in Art Deco, not just because of their beauty, but because of their versatility. A single slip shade could be used in a sconce, or put together to form a chandelier. Coming right after Art Nouveau, you can see some subtle influences of organic and structured line work throughout Art Deco.
Diana, our Lighting Lady at our Seattle store of 15+ years, had this to say about the unique glass of this era,
“You’ll often see this period of glass in the depression era come in three different materials: custard, vaseline, or uranium. Custard, like the name suggests, has a soft yellow hue but can glow green due to hints of uranium, while vaseline and uranium are often (but not always) a greenish color.”
The art deco movement prided itself on futuristic, geometric designs. During this time, artisans were showcasing the progress being made in technology and modernism, especially within cities. Many art deco lights were featured with intentionally shiny metals, dramatic geometric shapes, and elongated lines.
THE ICONIC WEDDING CAKE
One of the most iconic Art Deco structures is the light shade called the wedding cake! Turn this light shade upside down, and you see the layers the look remarkably like the classic tiered cake. This shape is not only seen in indoor lighting, but you’ll also see it in a variety of outdoor building lighting as well, like the art deco copper chandelier with copper base, likely on the side of an era building:
Wedding cake lights can also be described as skyscraper lights. You can see a skyscraper building shape through the line work, like this antique skyscraper light with milk glass.
Art Deco continues to be an incredibly popular design era. Due to being in demand, there are many reproductions of art deco lighting, highlighting this recognizable design to this day.
Diana, our Lighting Lady, continues,
“There are a couple of good reproduction companies out there, but I might be biased in saying original is best! Art Deco light fixtures are a great statement piece in entry and dining rooms alike, and add a lot of character to any space.”