Suffice to say, art deco always grabbed attention and made heads turn. Completed in 1931, the classic Empire State Building in New York was preceded by the iconic Chrysler Building with its bejewelled crown of terraced arches. Both were watershed moments in the history of art deco and skyscrapers. Deco entered the stage like a bold woman who revelled in showing off her finery, never bashful.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” as Dickens wrote in the memorable beginning of the Tale of two cities. It was all that and the tale of several cities. It was 1925 Paris, when the term Art deco was first coined at the Paris Exposition. Deco comes from the word decoration. The 1920s movement symbolizes an era where the romance with the machine age gave forth to a luxurious celebration of ornamentation, never sparse, openly opulent.
Art Deco was born during a transitory phase that heralded many new beginnings – flights, movies, ships and excavations. With Charles Lindbergh’s historic transatlantic flight in 1926 and Tutankhamen’s tomb discovered in 1922, excitement fluttered worldwide about Egypt, Africa, the Far East and travel to exotic places. Deco hit the silver screen with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in 1927. It sailed across the seas on the Normandie, a vast ocean liner designed in sumptuous art deco style in 1933. From India, rich noblemen and royalty who returned from their travels to London and Paris commissioned their own versions of deco in then Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Jaipur. Bombay Deco emerged with Indian deities, tropical and floral motifs with a blend of Bauhaus and Cubism, nautical-inspired elements and ziggurats. In India, Deco lasted longer than the rest of the world, almost into the 1960s. No wonder then, Mumbai rivals Miami, second in the world with over 200 buildings in Art Deco.
The glamour and flamboyance of the movement lingers a century later. We gasped with delight at the posters of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby of 2013 in which superstar Amitabh Bachchan appears in a special role. We were wowed by the glittering Empire State Building lobby mural. Deco fonts used in buildings were inspiring for how typography and architecture can compliment. Our Deco statement for Arvind and Vrinda began right from the playful geometry of the A imposed over the V. The contrast of black and gold in The Great Gatsby spelt luxury but black being a no for Indian weddings, we chose deep rich shades of blue and brown. The Indian translation of deco led us to fuse its aerodynamic geometry into classical Indian shapes like arches and jaalis woven with florals. This intricate customized filigree pattern was laser-cut on the card bringing technology and ornamentation together as art deco once did. The style’s lavish use of materials gave ample space for imagination to flower. It inspired our ornately embossed boxes for gifts inscribed with the date of the wedding. The special metallic sheen with texturing gave the inserts in peach and lilac subtle lushness. The beauty of Art Deco is that we had the freedom to marry styles from East and West, an amalgamation that was foremost in our minds as our Indian-origin clients were based in London. Lots of chocolates to eat tossed with Indian flavours in our specially packaged boxes! For this small intimate wedding, we made personalized wax seals for guests with their initials etched in. Lovingly, we left behind an indelible Deco imprint.