Art Deco Interior Design: A Guide for Aspiring Interior Designers

Art Deco, a visual arts design style that emerged in the early 20th century, continues to influence modern interior design with its unmistakable glamour, luxury, and order. Widely embraced in the 1920s and 1930s, Art Deco combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is celebrated for its bold geometric patterns, rich colours, and luxurious materials, making it a vibrant source of inspiration for today’s interior designers.

art deco interior design style hotel

Image source: Pinterest

History of Art Deco

The Art Deco movement originated at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts held in Paris in 1925, which showcased new ideas in art and design. The style quickly spread across Europe and the United States, influencing architecture, furniture, jewelry, and fashion. Art Deco was seen as a symbol of modernity and sophistication, reflecting the era’s cultural and social aspirations, and an optimistic outlook towards technological advancement.

Key Characteristics of Art Deco

Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Art Deco is renowned for its emphasis on simple, streamlined forms and symmetrical designs. Geometric patterns including zigzags, triangles, and sunburst motifs are staples of the style, providing a sense of elegance and modernity.

Luxurious Materials

The use of high-end materials such as chrome, stainless steel, glass, lacquer, and exotic woods like ebony and mahogany, along with rich fabrics including silk and velvet, underscores the opulence that defines Art Deco interior design.

Bold Colours

The Art Deco palette is bold and vibrant, featuring deep yellows, reds, greens, blues, and pinks, often complemented by black and chrome to enhance the feeling of luxury and drama.

Elements of Art Deco Interior Design


Art Deco furniture pieces are characterised by their sleek, streamlined forms and often feature a combination of different materials such as wood, leather, and metal, with decorative inlays and finishes.


Lighting fixtures in the Art Deco style are not just functional but are often dramatic art pieces, featuring materials like glass and chrome and shapes that complement other geometric forms in the space.

Decorative Accents

Mirrors, lacquers, and inlays are common in Art Deco interiors, used to add a sense of depth, brightness, and luxury to a room.

art deco interior design elements and characteristics

Image source: Pinterest

Applying Art Deco Principles in Interior Design

Space Planning

When incorporating Art Deco design elements, consider how to balance richly decorative pieces with the functional layout of the room to maintain a sleek and uncluttered space.

Colour Schemes

Choosing the right colour scheme is crucial in Art Deco interiors. Bold and sophisticated colours should be balanced and strategically used to emphasise the luxurious aspects of the design.

Textures and Finishes

The texture and finish of surfaces can significantly impact the overall aesthetic of an Art Deco space. Polished wood, shiny lacquer, and satin-finished metals are ideal choices that reflect the era’s style.

Case Studies: Inspiring Art Deco Interiors

The Chrysler Building, New York City


The Chrysler Building stands as a pinnacle of Art Deco architecture, with its lobby embodying the luxurious and sophisticated design characteristic of the 1930s. This iconic space serves as an excellent case study in the use of materials and decorative arts typical of the period.

Key Elements and Techniques:

The lobby dazzles with African mahogany paneling and marble and onyx floors and walls, showcasing the era's preference for exotic and sumptuous materials. Above, a spectacular ceiling mural by Edward Trumbull displays abstract geometric patterns and ornamental motifs in silver and gold leaf, exemplifying Art Deco's lavishness and attention to detail. These design elements highlight the era's hallmark integration of art and architecture.

Palais de Chaillot, Paris


Constructed for the 1937 World's Fair, the Palais de Chaillot is a testament to French Art Deco architecture, reflecting the splendor and ambition of that era.

Key Elements and Techniques:

The grand halls feature symmetrical designs adorned with detailed marble inlays and expansive decorative panels with stylised motifs. Brass and chrome fixtures enhance the streamlined Art Deco aesthetic, creating a striking contrast with the luxurious materials. This setting serves as a profound educational example of how Art Deco leverages texture and symmetry to achieve elegance and visual impact.

Eltham Palace, London


Eltham Palace exemplifies the seamless integration of Art Deco design within an existing medieval structure, transformed during the 1930s renovations by the affluent Courtauld family into a sumptuous modern residence.

Key Elements and Techniques:

The interiors of Eltham Palace radiate Art Deco luxury with exotic burl wood paneling and bespoke furniture upholstered in lavish textiles. The entrance hall is particularly striking, featuring a circular design capped with an impressive glass dome that enhances the streamlined aesthetics typical of the era and showcases innovative use of materials. This case study underscores the adaptability of Art Deco design, blending traditional elements with modern luxuries.

art deco crystler building

Image source: Pinterest

Tips for Aspiring Interior Designers

To truly excel in Art Deco interior design, it's essential for aspiring designers to immerse themselves in the practice of blending historical elegance with modern functionality. Start by exploring the foundational elements of Art Deco—its bold geometric shapes, rich materials, and vibrant colour palettes. Experiment with these elements in your design projects to develop a feel for the balance between luxury and practicality that defines this style.

Enhance your understanding of Art Deco by utilising a variety of educational resources. Dive into historical reference books and partake in architectural tours to grasp the original context and application of Art Deco designs. Explore contemporary design magazines and websites to see how these timeless elements are adapted in modern interiors. Additionally, consider enrolling our specialised course and attending workshops. These learning opportunities are specifically tailored to provide practical experience and professional guidance, helping you master the art of Art Deco design and beyond.

Explore the Timeless Elegance of Art Deco Design with The Interior Design Institute

Art Deco remains a significant influence in interior design, offering a rich source of inspiration for designers aiming to infuse their projects with a sense of sophistication and historical richness. Its emphasis on luxury, boldness, and the interplay of traditional and modern elements makes it a timeless style to explore and adapt.

art deco mood board

Image source: #IDIstudent Hilary Jane from @hilaryjanehome

Explore the timeless elegance of Art Deco design with IDI and learn more about this period in Module 2 and Module 3 of our online interior design course. As part of one of your assignments, you'll get to be creative by making mood boards like the example above by graduated #IDIstudent Hilary Jane from @hilaryjanehome.

Are you ready to channel the sophistication and glamour of the 1920s into your design projects? Join our community of creative minds by enrolling in our comprehensive courses today. Dive into the world of Art Deco and beyond, and let us help you unlock your creative potential.

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