How To Identify Art Deco Furniture

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When you think of elegance, impeccable finishing, and eclectic details, art deco is the style that encompasses them all.

Born in Paris during the early 20th century, Art Deco was a new style movement that aimed to represent a post-war society. It was meant to inspire positivity, playfulness, and hope for the future.

Any original Art Deco piece tells a story of some sort. You’ll find perfect symmetry, lots of mirrors, rare and expensive wood, and most of all, luxury. The beauty of Art Deco is the modern feel these pieces can convey without sacrificing the elegance of your space.

Nowadays, authentic Art Deco furniture can be difficult to spot, especially if you’re not very familiar with it. Many sellers will use the words to describe anything remotely similar to the real Art Deco, so you have to be very careful who you buy from.

Keep reading to discover how to spot real furniture pieces from this era and avoid scams and counterfeit goods.

Materials

The materials typical of Art Deco furnishing are wood, lacquer, marble, and metal. You may find some designer pieces with plastic details on them or bold animal skin, which was a sign of pure opulence. The point was to enjoy the geometric and bold colors, allowing their beauty to shine in your home or office.

If you look at any wooden Art Deco piece of furniture, you’ll notice it’s made of exotic wood. This is to further emphasize the hard work that was put into these designs, but also to guarantee their durability. If you see signs of plywood or chip board in the drawers, then you are not looking at a true Art Deco piece of furniture. Solid piece of exotic wood was used throughout the building process, so these pieces will stand out from contemporary wooden furniture that is made much more cheaply.

Polished metal and lacquer were used to created mirror-like surfaces, along with the glass. The glossy finish of the furniture is possibly the main feature of a true Art Deco design. If the piece lacks that glossy finish, it might not be a true Art Deco piece.

Types

Art Deco designed furniture came in the shape of chairs, cabinets, coffee tables, and beds. That meant these beautiful pieces could be found throughout an individual’s home, serving a variety of uses while contributing to the overall elegant design of the space. At the same time, Art Deco also brought a high level of quality to their pieces, meaning they were built to last, gracing homes and offices for years to come.

The cabinets were big and sturdy, often made of exotic wood, such as Macassar ebony, bird’s eye maple, or burled oak. At times, you could find a piece colored in metallic, like gold, copper or secondary colors.

Beds were oversized and commonly made of wood, with hints of metal. Depending on the designer, they could have detailed motifs from ancient Mayan, Aztec, and Egyptian cultures.

The most typical furniture piece of the Art Deco period is the cocktail table with a glass top and metallic legs. Clearly, this amazing example of Art Deco furniture would sit front and center, drawing the eye and sparking conversation about the overall design.

Authenticity

To avoid scams and fake items, you need to know how to distinguish a real Art Deco style of furniture from a fake one.

In general, because Art Deco pieces are not considered antiques, their value is on the high end and their prices reflect this. Instead, you need to look at the overall quality of the piece, as well as the unique aspects that would clearly mark them as Art Deco pieces.

Also, look for details, motifs, animal prints, and inlaid materials, like ivory and ebony, along with sleek, reflective surfaces. If you can, find out who the designer is and ask the seller for any documents related to the furniture to prove its origin. It can help you to determine when the piece was made, which can help you determine if it is a true Art Deco piece or an imposter. If you have any questions or concerns, then be willing to consider another piece instead of making a questionable purchase.

Finally, check the condition of the furniture. Look for chipping, damage, dents, or replacement parts. If you decide to buy an Art Deco piece of furniture, it should be in excellent condition. For instance, if you find significant damage on an original Art Deco piece, it might not be worth the investment to purchase the piece. Minor damage may be able to be repaired, so it is important to determine the amount of damage, if any, before you make your purchase.

Bottom Line

We hope our guidelines will help you to find your next favorite Art Deco item for your home or office. Our goal is that you enjoy your Art Deco pieces and bring a touch of that modern elegance into your space.

We invite you to look around our gallery and enjoy the beauty of another era.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Paul Stamati Gallery specializes in 20th Century decorative arts and is the world's leading source for Art Deco lighting by Lalique.