Deco vs. -n-Crafts: How to tell apart your Arts

Art Deco and the Arts and Crafts movement were quite popular during the early part of the 20th century, with the Arts and Crafts movement lasting from approximately 1890 to 1915, and the Art Deco movement taking the stage from 1910 to 1939.

Both aesthetics are quite relevant to today's design sensiblity, but you don't want to confuse the two.

Here are some handy pointers to tell one from the other.


Deco vs. -n-Crafts: How to tell apart your Arts

ART DECO: Modern materials, clean lines, geometric shapes, machine made.

ARTS and CRAFTS:  Traditional materials, fluid lines, biomorphic and natural shapes, shows the mark of the hand-finisher.

DECO: Roots in Cubism, Modernism Art Nouveau 

A&C: Roots in roots


  Paul Manship (I walk by a copy of one of his statues almost every day on my walk through the 'hood)

 Grant Wood See those geometric shapes?

 Wiliam Van Alen, designer of the Chrysler Building and its creepy-cool gargoyles.


Gustav Stickley. His handmade furniture is still available!

 Frank Lloyd Wright 

Leeeeetle bit of a control freak. Designed everything in the house, down to the toliet paper holders. Just kidding. Any one of his buildings is a marvel of art and design. Living in one, would be like living in a museum. You can't just put up a velvet painting of dogs playing poker in a house designed by FLW.



IF YOU LIKE DECO: You'd like CB2, West Elm, and The Paris Apartment

IF YOU LIKE ARTS-n-CRAFTS: These companies..., Handmade paper from Paper Source, and this great British website


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beccajo on Dec 18, 2006:

Yes, G&G were a great example of A&C designers.

Both Mondiran and Rietveld were both part of the dutch movement De Stijl, which emphasized blocks of pure color and total abstraction. It wouldn't be classified as Art Deco, but they do both have their roots in the Cubist movement that swept Europe during the years around the WW's.

Whamodyne on Dec 15, 2006:

Don't forget Greene & Greene and their cloud lift motif.  I always liked that myself.  Where yould you place guys like Modrian and  Rietveld, two of my fav designers?  

bruno on Dec 13, 2006:

Great write-up!

VintageSwank on Dec 13, 2006:

Glad to see you pointed out Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a true pioneer way before his time. Most people think he was a 50s modern designer, but in fact he started some of his major pieces in the late 1800s. He actually despised the so called Modernists of the times. Crazy to think his greatest "modern" pieces were in the 20s and 30s. Just think what kind of architect he could have been with today’s modern materials and technology.

Nothing wrong with a little bit of design control :) We all have our visions of what a space should be.There is a great PBS special on him by Ken Burns of course; everyone should view if they have some free time. http://www.pbs.org/flw/buildings/

Vintage Swank

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