Art Deco vs Mid Century Modern (What’s The Difference)

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Art Deco vs Mid Century Modern

Both Art Deco and Mid Century celebrate contemporary luxury, innovative new materials, and distinctive design characteristics.

Mid-century design is a sleek minimalist style that focuses more on practicality while art decor design has a more elaborate style with extravagant and intricate details.

First introduced at an exhibit in Paris in 1925, Art Deco quickly gained popularity. Its influence is seen in everything from fashion and furnishings to buildings, transportation, and artwork. Art Deco was a contemporary style until about 1940.

Although the design elements are distinctly different, there is some overlap in the period that both styles were in vogue. The Mid Century style began in the 1930s and ran through the 1960s.


9 Differences Between Art Deco vs Mid Century Modern

The mid-century modern design style emerged in America during the Great Depression and continued through the 1960s. The movement was inspired by the Bauhaus design style, which focused on clean lines, simplistic forms, and functionality.

In contrast to this approach, Art Deco emphasized opulence, glamour, and luxury. Like Mid-Century Modern, Art Deco stressed clean lines but often included bold geometric patterns executed in precious materials such as ebony and ivory.

Let’s look at some of the major differences between the two styles:

  1. Art Deco is an eclectic style, incorporating a variety of materials, textures, and shapes. Mid Century Modern is a clean, minimalist style with more of a focus on natural materials and the absence of clutter.
  2. Art Deco reflects the fast pace of modern life with its geometric motifs and ornamentation while Mid Century Modern focuses on functionality and practicality.
  3. Art Deco has an opulent feel with its use of gold and silver inlays, chrome, mirrors, and glass while the Mid Century Modern look is more casual and relaxed with a focus on comfort rather than a luxury.
  4. Art Deco furniture is generally low-slung with rounded arms, angular legs, and straight lines while Mid Century furniture is tall and narrow with sculpted legs or tapered legs.
  5. Art Deco uses bolder colors like black, white, silver, red, or blue while Mid Century Modern has soft earth tones like olive green, browns, tans, and oranges.
  6. Mid Century Modern features more geometric patterns and shapes than Art Deco. MCM is also more symmetrical than Art Deco which tends to be asymmetrical.
  7. Mid Century Modern uses materials like plastic laminate for furniture and metal for cabinetry, while Art Deco uses mahogany, metal, and glass.
  8. Mid Century Modern (1940-1970) is the time after World War II when the economy was booming and there was a need for homes and buildings to be built quickly and cheaply. Since there were fewer workers to build them, a lot of prefabricated systems were used and homes were often built on smaller lots than in previous decades.
  9. Art Deco (1920-1939) is the time between the two world wars when America became more prosperous as a result of mass production techniques that were developed during WWI. It was also an era of very exciting new inventions such as aviation, electricity, motion pictures, and automobiles which fueled creative design concepts for art deco structures and furnishings.

Art Deco Design Also Incorporates Geometric Designs

 

These tend to be more elaborate designs such as chevron and zigzag. This style emphasizes vertical lines and is more elaborately enhanced than Mid Century.

Furnishings made in the Art Deco style often use exotic woods such as ebony, mahogany, and zebrawood on surfaces and as accents. Intricate inlays and veneers highlight the distinctive design lines and add to the feel of modern luxury, which is the basis of this design’s concept.

Materials like chrome, aluminum, and bakelite, along with highly polished and smooth surfaces, emphasized the new and modern feel created by Art Deco design. Upholstery also displayed unusual elements such as exotic furs, and sharkskin or ray skin (shagreen). Leather was also often used.


Mid Century Design Is A Minimalist Style In Which Form Follows Function

 

Its geometric and organic shapes with clean, sleek lines and often contrasting textures, materials, and colors helped to identify it.

Mid Century furniture design embraced new materials such as plastic, plywood, vinyl, glass, Lucite, and Plexiglas for their distinctive characteristics. Designers often took advantage of the artificial qualities juxtaposed against the sleek organic look of wood.


Art Deco Chair Vs. Mid Century – What Is The Difference?

While the two styles are distinctly different, they have often shared the same space. Art Deco has seen some level of revival every decade since the 1950s. Mid Century has never really gone away.

Even today, you can purchase brand-new furnishings in either style. Vintage pieces from both disciplines are widely available and sought after.

  1. Chairs designed in Mid Century style will typically be lower profile and incorporate sweeping lines with tapered legs. These chairs will also utilize more man-made materials and laminated wood structures. The color palette can range from bold, stark contrast to warm earth tones.
  2. The Art Deco chair will have a more intricate and detailed design in an upright habit. Typically a higher gloss, these furnishings will sometimes have a lacquered finish. They display a distinctly geometric and symmetrical structure in their design. While the Mid Century chair sports a sleek low-profile, Art Deco chairs will have a more traditional proportion and straight legs.

 

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Both Design Methods Incorporate The Modern Materials Of Their Time

The materials themselves are distinct features of each style. Depending on preferences and the overall design of the space, one may be just as appropriate as the other.

Each is attractive and graceful in its own right, and you may find that combining the two in some fashion will create the look you are seeking.

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