Buying Art Deco

By Chrissie Masters of The Design Gallery

  • Art Deco furniture is great value for money and often beautifully constructed with rare veneers such as Bird’s Eye Maple and Burr Walnut. “This was the last great age of cabinet making” says John Masters. The original furniture from the 1920s and 1930s is often much cheaper than modern reproductions.
  • Look out for skyscraper-style cocktail cabinets which light up when you open them, console tables with contrasting woods, and ‘Cloud’ dining and lounge suites which have curvaceous backs and sides. ‘Tank’ suites are also highly sought-after for their geometric shapes. Manufacturers to invest in include Epstein, Hille, Maurice Adams and Betty Joel.
  • Bronze, spelter, ceramic and terracotta sculpture makes a striking focal point in any contemporary interior scheme. Flapper girls, exotic dancers and leaping gazelles were just some of the subjects explored by Art Deco sculptors.
  • Art Deco was design for a modern world. The streamlined shapes were inspired by speed and travel and the styling was linear and graphic. Ceramics of the Jazz Age embody the Art Deco spirit perfectly, from Clarice Cliff’s vividly coloured tea services to Carlton Ware and Wedgwood’s gleaming glazes. Seek out John Skeaping’s animal sculptures, and the floral patterns of the Carter, Stabler & Adams factory which later became Poole Pottery.
  • Rene Lalique is hailed as the greatest glassmaker of the 20th century. His glowing, white and blue opalescent pieces were made with a secret recipe. Prices range from several hundred pounds to many thousands of pounds.
  • Art Deco clocks exemplify the look of the period, with Mayan temple shapes in a mixture of exquisite marbles. Egyptian Revival was a major influence following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. Leading names include Cartier, Boucheron and Dunhill, while many affordable clocks by makes such as Elliott and Atto can still be found. French clocks often incorporate female or animal sculpture, with onyx or marble bases.
  • Women were enjoying their new-found freedom and danced the Charleston wearing long necklaces called ‘sautoirs’, armfuls of bracelets and bangles, and glittering headbands on their bobbed hair. Art Deco paste brooches and dress clips can be found for as little as £20, while glass necklaces range from £30 to £100. Bakelite and Galalith jewellery with modernist chrome elements was made in France, Germany and the USA and pieces by the German factory Jakob Bengal are highly collected.