Art Deco and the Spirit of an Age

A design style popular in the 1920’s, it originated in France. It comes from the words Arts Decoratifs.Its bold futuristic vision as an architectural style and its streamlined forms symbolised the spirit of the Jazz Age, the automobiles, industrialisation and the aftermath ofWorld War I.It was a dazzling reaction to the austerity imposed by the war.Characterized by geometric and angular forms, exotic materials, and linear decoration , Art Deco came between two world wars and bridged the traditional and the avant garde. The look is strong and bold  with recurring motifs like leaves, branches, trapezoids, chevrons, zigzags, sunbursts, jagged, pointed edges inspired by tall skyscrapers. Inspired by non Western motifs it was characterised by Egyptian and Aztec art forms, Art Deco favored materials were : wrought iron, stainless steel, mirrors, chrome, glass, lacquer, and inlaid exotic hardwoods.  The tiles used in Herald Suites Polaris, as well as the wrought iron hand railings in its hallways were especially designed following Art Deco shapes and motifs.

Art Deco permeated every aspect of the design world from architecture and interior design to sculpture, painting, graphic and industrial design . It was elegant and very decorative.In the Philippines young architects who came back from their studies in Europe like Luis M. Araneta,  Andres Luna de San Pedro, Pablo Antonio, Fernando Ocampo, Juan F. Nakpil, and Juan M. Arellano spurred a decadent new style in the late 1920’s. The craze for Art Deco coincided with the popularity of moviegoing as a national pastime.  Movie houses became cinema palaces and showcases of decorative style and Hollywood glamor : Capitol Theatre, Ideal Theatre,  Life Theatre, Avenue Theatre, and Scala Theatre; today all sadly demolished.  A few extant Art Deco buildings  remain to this day, like the First United Building in Escolta, The Quezon Institute, Rizal Memorial Stadium, Metropolitan Theatre, and ancestral houses in Bulacan,  Pampanga, Laguna, Bacolod and Iloilo.Art Deco Philippines founder Ivan Man Dy formed the Art Deco Philippines Facebook group to share Art Deco news with other enthusiasts. Tours are also held  from time to time.

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