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With the opening up of China by Europe, the flow of goods from China exploded. The late 1800's were filled with delight over Chinese goods and design. Their sparser decor and more geometric design made quite the contrast with the busy Victorian aesthetic.

The designers of the 1920's were well aware of these Oriental designs, because they wrestled with the same issue that Art Deco wrestled with: making shapes appealing to the eyes. There's only so many solutions to that problem, and beginning with existing solutions made sense.

Even a casual perusal of Chinese furniture and art will reveal many patterns and solutions that later appear in Art Deco. Wooden cabinets features simple triangular designs broken apart by circles. Grill work created geometric patterns. Tapestries broke apart rectangles with cascading designs and spirals. The entire vocabulary of Art Deco exists within the style.

In particular, the Art Deco home owes more to Orientalism than any other influence, an outgrowth of that earlier aesthetic.

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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