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Art Deco 101 - Architectural Rhythm

What is Architectural Rhythm? Basically (and this is very basic), it's the way that all the pieces of architecture work together, which means the way that a bunch of squares and rectangles, lines and curves, work together. As your eye is part of architecture, architectural rhythm involves you. The architect has thought about the way that your eye reacts, where your attention goes first, and where it goes later, so although the house doesn't move, the observer does. Thus, the rhythm establishes a relationship between the observer and the observed.

I'm sure that there are great books on this subject, but I haven't read any of them.

As Art Deco buildings are designed by architects, and architects use the principals of architectural rhythm in their designs, we can safely say that Art Deco is designed using the principals of architectural rhythm. Indeed, the subject matter of architectural rhythm, the geometric shapes of human construction, are the same basic shapes as those found in Art Deco.

This means that Art Deco interacts with the viewer, with the design focusing the viewer onto certain details. This rhythm should be pleasing to the eye. This rhythm should begin the eye at one point and then draw it to other points.

This also means that the elements of Art Deco do not exist in isolation, but exist as part of a rhythmic system. The elements are fundamentally related. Although they may contain different designs, the floors, wall, and ceiling are demonstrable parts of the same composition.

If you want to create Art Deco, you'll want to learn the basics of architectural rhythm, just not from me.

Return to: Art Deco 101

Douglas Milewski is a fantasy writer who liked drafting class too much. In his recent artistic struggles to produce art deco for his own covers, he found no internet sites dedicated to the technical underpinnings of the art. Seeing a niche that needed filling, he has documented his hard learned experiences. He doesn't claim that he's right, and would very much appreciate it if someone more competent would save him from his own folly.

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