Art Deco - Mumbai to Miami


 Art Deco was a design style that gained popularity between the 1920’s and the 1940’s. This movement is characterised by strong, geometric lines and shapes, rich, vibrant colours and ornamentation derived from Egyptian & Assyrian motifs. Deco’s influence permeated throughout the world, transcending the visual landscape from architecture and furniture to posters, product, fashion and jewellery. (Except in Antarctica, but we are sure somebody must've built a Deco igloo by now, aren’t you?)

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Mumbai’s movie cinemas were the jewels of its Deco crown: Charles Stevens' Regal was the first air-conditioned theatre in India. Shorabji Bhedwars Eros with its glowing cut-shape sign, Liberty, (New) Empire, and even Metro Cinema were all dressed for the part, making going to the movies just as glamorous as the films themselves. “Of course, without television and smartphones, films were the primary source of entertainment, and these Art Deco “Halls of Light” are where the city went to enjoy themselves.” – Viraat Kasliwal

All the wild abandon of Mumbai's often-forgotten jazz obsession of the 30s and 40s is built into the facades of its theatres, office buildings and Zoroastrian fire temples.


Only Miami has more Art Deco buildings than Mumbai. (Although this claim is contentious, says Viraat. “If you were to actually go through Mumbai and pick out every Art Deco building you see, there's a good chance Mumbai will have more than even Miami.”) Visitors to the city are treated to rows of pastel-coloured hotels, where porthole windows and ship-like railings look out onto the seas. Tours, walks, and festivals are held often to celebrate Miami's Deco heritage, lest people forget how valuable those buildings really are. The easy panache of Art Deco feels perfectly at home in Miami.

11 Art Deco Bottom_pics_new.jpgImage Courtesy furniture:; Image Courtesy poster (L-R): and 

Discern Style Guide to Art Deco Interiors: Take a cue from the Great Gatsby and  bring the glamorous Deco style into your home with intricate geometric metal screens or wallpapers with chevrons and bold, symmetric patterns. Large rugs that reference the Cubist movement can  add a sumptuous layer to your floor space.

Art Deco furniture derives its form from the architecture. Identifiable by monolithic volumes and definite yet multiple compositions of simple geometric forms such as triangles, squares, and circles and decorated with highly ornamental plaques. Look for strong, streamlined shapes in single pieces rather than suites. Metal, glass, rosewood, and ebony can be accented by malachite, gold, ivory, and mother-of-pearl inlay to highlight and embellish the distinctive lines and curves.

To adorn your walls with artwork, look for posters by A. M. Cassandre for chunky lines that form the imposing shapes of ships and planes. Art Deco artefacts fetch high prices at auctions, a reflection of the appreciation it still has among many who can’t get enough of the clean, simple yet regal shapes. This style resonates perfectly with a no-nonsense yet highly sophisticated and discerning personality.

Andrew DeSouza is a final year student of Sociology at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. He is a freelance writer and an aspiring musician.