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“It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Art Deco movement was born out of a desire to break away from the traditional styles of the past and embrace a new, modern aesthetic. It is inspired by designs of previous movements such as Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus, Viennese Secessionism, Cubism, and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Earlier inspirations stem from Ancient Egypt, Aztec, and other ancient Central American art forms.

Although there was not just one singular point in time when Art Deco design was created, le style moderne spread globally after the Paris Exposition, L’exposition internationale des arts decoratifs et industiels modernes, in 1925. 

The term “Art Deco” did not officially appear until 1966 when Bevis Hillier coined the words to describe the design period from roughly 1919-1939,  “Art Deco” derives from a shortened version of the phrase art decoratifs. 

After the Paris Exposition, Art Deco made its way across the world, appearing in international events and fairs and integrating into society and culture as a movement. Because Art Deco design takes inspiration from industrialization and the new machine age, industrial designers were pivotal in developing the design into the 30s. 


Art Deco Paris Exposition Postcard
Courtesy of: SiefkinDR - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Sandwiched between two world wars, the Art Deco era was alive during a time when people looked forward to the future and embraced its optimism. The 1920s innovation, industrialization, and experimentation all added to this cultural ideology. Design, fashion, architecture, art,  music, and dance were moving fast and developed into unique forms during the Art Deco movement. Everything from buildings to home appliances exemplified the deco design: Geometric shapes, bold colors, and a focus on luxury and glamour. It manifested the speed of the 1920s and 1930s. 


The Kiss Movie Set Art Deco
Still from The Kiss, starring Greta Garbo (Set design: Cedric Gibbons, costume design: Adrian)

What Defines Art Deco?

“Modernism means style versus styles” -F. Paul Frankl


Art Deco is unapologetically modern. Even as it adapted and changed from the roaring 1920s through the 1930s, it maintained a sense of modernity and futurism. It is characterized by simplicity and symmetry – using streamlined shapes and movement. Historically, Art Deco design utilizes man-made materials and embraces the qualities of man-made objects and machinery. Art Deco in art and design is a celebration of modern advances and cultural optimism.


Art Deco In Phoenix, Arizona


A non-exhaustive list of Art Deco buildings in Phoenix. 

    • Luhrs Tower

    • Taliesin West

    • The Arizona Biltmore Hotel

    • Bacanora, formally the Bragg’s Pie Factory 

    • Hilton Garden Hotel, formally the Professional Building 

    • Old Phoenix City Hall

    • Arizona State Fair Grand Stand

    • Arizona State Fair WPA Building

    • ASU Gammage Theatre 

    • Phoenix Title and Trust – Orpheum Lofts

    • New Windsor Hotel

    • The General Motors Testing Laboratory 
    • Old Sky Harbor Control Tower
    • Hanny’s Bar (formally  Hanny’s Department Store in the International Style)

Art Deco In Arizona

A non-exhaustive list of Art Deco buildings in outside of the Phoenix area. 

    • Fox Theatre (Tucson) 

    • Fox Commercial Building (Tucson)

    • Stonecypher’s Bakery (Tucson)

    • Reilly Funeral Home (Tucson)
    • Southern Pacific Railroad Passenger Station
    • Hotel San Carlos (Yuma)

    • Masonic Temple (Yuma)
    • Cochise County Courthouse (Bisbee)
    • Phelps-Dodge Mercantile Company (Bisbee)

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The Phoenix Art Deco Society is a not-for-profit organization that is exempt from Federal Income Tax as an organization described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to Phoenix Art Deco Society are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Upcoming Events

Jun, 2024

Cocktails of the Deco Era: A Taste of Prohibition

Chandler June 23, 2024 15:00
Indulge in Art Deco’s liquid legacy with this cocktail-tasting experience. Enter a different time when skirts were shorter, jazz was hotter, the cocktails were stronger…and there were ostriches.  That’s right.…
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