example of art deco building

What is the difference between Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern?

Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern Design

Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern are two design styles that are still popular today, but what are the differences between them?

Art Deco originated in France and was a truly International style that dominated architecture and design in the 1920s and 1930s, while Mid Century Modern developed mostly in Europe and in the United States in the 1940’s after World War II, and continued till the 1970s. Here is a look at the distinctions between each design style:

art deco example
Art deco example: Quack momument

1 Style:

    • Art Deco embodied the concept of a golden age through the use of metallic and glazed surfaces and opulent designs. Bold designs with linear style and symmetry in shapes were used to create a glamorous and sophisticated look here.
    • The Mid Century Modern style was more simplistic in nature, following the ethos of ‘form follows function’. Architecture, interiors and furniture in Mid Century Modern style were practical and made use of clean lines and curves. The aim of the designers were to create designs that are comfortable yet accessible to all.
art deco inspired pendant lamp - mulitple layers
Art deco example: Echelon Semi-Flushmount – CLICK PIC FOR LATEST PRICING

2 Materials:

  • The Art Deco style made use of modern materials like stainless steel, gold and chrome, with leather and reflective glass surfaces. Inlaid designs were made using exotic woods while expensive materials such as ivory and marbles were also used in interiors. Buildings in this style made use of concrete and polished natural stones as well as glass and steel.
  • In Mid Century Modern style, designers were able to be more experimental with new technologies and an increased access to many materials, creating furniture pieces using plywood, veneer, plastic and plexiglass. Bent plywood, laminates and moulded plastic were utilized to create fluid forms. The materials used were never finished up to appear as wood however, as the designers believed in being true to the material.
art deco style Outdoor LED Wall Sconce
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3 Colors and Patterns:

  • Art Deco used bold colors like yellows, reds and greens along with the metallic shades of gold and steel. Black and white were often paired in this style due to their strong contrast, with checkerboard tiles and wallpapers being highly popular. Geometric patterns like chevrons and sunbursts were seen often, as were abstract and gilded patterns inspired by plants and nature.

    art deco inspired brew cafetiere
    Tom Dixon: art deco inspired Brew Cafetiere
  • The variety of materials used in Mid Century Modern design allowed for a wide range of colors in this style. Interiors and furniture combined earthy and neutral shades with pops of bright colors. Glossy finishes and bold colors were used alongside natural shades and finishes. Patterns in this style mixed contrasting colors, and used themes that represented everything from bowls to flowers. Geometric and organic shapes dominated the patterns on fabrics and furniture.
Eltham palace interior in London UK
Art deco interior at Eltham palace in London, UK

4 Furniture:

  • Streamlined and grand furniture were characteristic of Art Deco. Exotic woods like ebony and mahogany were used with glossy lacquered finishes, as were wooden and metal furniture and pieces with mirrored finishes. Leather and plush fabrics like velvet were used for upholstery, with solid, geometric and occasional animal prints being favored.
  • Mid Century Modern style furniture used simple lines and new materials to create iconic designs. The furniture pieces were devoid of any embellishments, and focused on bringing out the qualities of the materials. Designs were made to be mass produced and available to all. Comfort and functionality reigned supreme in these designs, as seen in the Eames’ Lounge Chair and the Jacobsen’s Egg Chair.
mid-century modern example of chair
Mid-Century Modern example: mid-century modern example of chair >>Please click the pic above to see current offers and pricing<<

Find why this style still dominates the design world with a selection of timeless furniture and décor that defined an era.