What distinguishes MCM from Art Deco design?

The difference between MCM and Art Deco lies in the approach they take to geometric shapes and lines. Mid-century modern design is characterized by sharp and clean lines that are used to form objects, while Art Deco uses these shapes and lines as decorative elements throughout the design. Here are some specific differences between the two styles:
  • Geometric patterns: Art Deco makes use of a wide variety of geometric patterns, including sunbursts, chevrons, and zigzags. These patterns are often used as decorative elements on walls, floors, and even ceilings.
  • Repetition: Art Deco often uses repetition of lines and shapes to create a sense of rhythm and movement. This can be seen in furniture, with repeated geometric shapes forming the legs or handles.
  • Clean lines: In contrast to Art Deco, MCM design tends to use clean, sharp lines to create simple and elegant objects. This can be seen in the straight edges and simple forms of MCM furniture.
  • Natural materials: MCM design often makes use of natural materials such as wood, leather, and metal. In contrast, Art Deco was more likely to use materials such as chrome, mirrored glass, and Bakelite.
  • Colors: Art Deco design often makes use of bright colors and bold contrasts. In contrast, MCM design tends to use more muted colors and earth tones.
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By understanding the differences between MCM and Art Deco design, you can make more informed choices about your home decor and create a style that suits your personal preferences.

The Definition of MCM and Art Deco Styles

The mid-century modern (MCM) style is a design movement that emerged in the 1940s, 50s and 60s and is characterized by clean, streamlined geometric forms and minimal ornamentation. It is a style that emphasizes functionality, simplicity, and the use of natural materials. On the other hand, Art Deco is a decorative style that originated in the 1920s and 30s, and it is characterized by ornate details, luxurious materials, and intricate geometric designs. Art Deco is all about opulence, glamour, and sophistication. Although both styles share an appreciation for geometry, they are fundamentally different in their approach to design.

Shapes and Lines in MCM and Art Deco

In MCM style, sharp and angular lines are the defining characteristic of designs. From furniture to architecture, MCM makes use of straight lines that intersect at perfect angles. The features of MCM style are clean, simple, and functional, often emphasizing the beauty of natural materials like wood, leather, and metal. Art Deco, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Art Deco is characterized by the use of curves, waves, zigzags, and sunburst shapes to create ornamental details in every aspect of design. It is all about creating a sense of luxury through extravagant details that create an air of grandeur.

Geometric Patterns in MCM and Art Deco

Both MCM and Art Deco rely heavily on geometric patterns to create visual interest. However, the way they use these patterns is quite different. MCM style tends to use geometric patterns in restrained ways. For example, a simple diamond pattern might be employed on a textile or wallpaper, but the same pattern is unlikely to be repeated excessively throughout the room. In contrast, for Art Deco designers, geometric patterns are a central element of the aesthetic. Sunbursts and chevrons are just two of the numerous geometric patterns that are often used in Art Deco design. The patterns are so important that they are often repeated over and over again in various forms throughout a space.
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Line Repetition in Art Deco Design

Line repetition is another hallmark of Art Deco design. It can be seen in furniture as well as other decorative objects. The repetition of lines is used to create a sense of rhythm and movement that is visually engaging. In addition to line repetition, Art Deco designers also use symmetry to create harmony in designs. Symmetry is often achieved by repeating patterns on opposite sides of a design or element. This repetition creates a sense of balance.

Furniture Examples of MCM and Art Deco

MCM furniture is characterized by clean lines, elegant curves and a minimalist aesthetic. Some of the most iconic MCM furniture pieces include the Eames Lounge Chair, the Noguchi Coffee Table and the Barcelona Chair. Art Deco furniture, on the other hand, is characterized by the use of bold materials like mirrored surfaces, exotic woods, and artisanal glass. Examples of Art Deco furniture include the Lalique glass desk, which is made up of intricate glass panels and the Ziggurat table, which features stepped layers made out of highly polished marble.

Decorative Objects of MCM and Art Deco

In addition to furniture, both styles are characterized by decorative objects that exude their respective aesthetics. For MCM decorative objects, functionality is paramount. Objects like lampshades, vases, and clocks play with geometric shapes and use natural materials like wood, glass, and metal. Art Deco decorative objects, on the other hand, are all about embellishment and luxury. Examples include bespoke light fixtures made out of precious metals and gemstones, carved marble statues, and intricate stained glass windows.
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In conclusion, the primary difference between MCM and Art Deco styles is how they approach design. MCM emphasizes functionality and minimalism, while Art Deco favors luxury and opulence. While both styles use geometric shapes and patterns, MCM employs clean lines and small amounts of patterning, whereas Art Deco is all about elaborate patterns and repetition of lines and shapes. The next time you encounter these styles, you will be able to recognize the key differences between them.

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