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Art Deco industrial design revival

Modern electronic devices with classic character
  (+25, -4)(+25, -4)(+25, -4)
(+25, -4)
  [vote for,

A lot of modern electronic devices (from component stereos to PDAs) tend to look rather uninspiring. Most seem to subscribe to a techno-minimalist aesthetic, and thus look like flat plastic boxes with buttons and displays and the odd logo. A minority look more imaginative, but most of those tend towards tackiness (such as much of the translucent iMac-knockoff design of recent history, which, more often than not, just tends to look cheap and tarted-up).

I was looking at my Pilot one day and started thinking that someone should resurrect the Art Deco style for modern electronic devices. And not by making slavish knockoffs of old wireless sets which look like radios but play MP3s, but rather by using the features of Art Deco in contemporary designs. Rather than flattish boxes with buttons and displays, you could have the buttons and displays framed with recessed layers. At various points, details (such as ridges or low reliefs) could be added, making for a more interesting look, and one with more classic character. The space above a mobile phone or PDA's screen could be adorned, for example, with a semicircular or triangular panel with a geometric motif such as a sunburst. And so on.

Art Deco would be a perfect movement to resurrect, as it combines futurism with classicism, and thus offers classic style without automatically being pretentious. One could also get away with using contemporary materials (titanium or modern plastics, for example) without it seeming anachronistic or tacky (as, say, a neo-Victorian steampunk MP3 player would look unless it was made of real brass and ivory).

acb, Jun 12 2001

IMDB - Metropolis http://us.imdb.com/Title?0017136
The film that started it all (the use of Art Deco in the futuristic setting, that is..) [goff]

Rennie Mackintosh http://www.rennie-m...sh.co.uk/catalogue/
Check out the style here [goff, Jun 12 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Rennie Mackintosh http://www.rennie-m...sh.co.uk/catalogue/
Check out the style here [gil, Jun 12 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Art and stuff http://www.tate.org.uk/modern/
You have no idea of the scale of this thing until you're in it. [lewisgirl, Jun 12 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Deco fans will love this stuff. http://www.argylehotel.com/
[angel, Jun 12 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Interiors from 'Angel' TV series. http://members.nbci...geljournal/sets.htm
[angel, Jun 12 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]

The Future We Were Promised http://www.palaceof....org/radebaugh.html
Arthur Radebaugh's art will be familiar to many as a kind of "baseline" art deco style. This link relates to an exhibition of his work open from July 19 to October 22, 2004, in Detroit at the National Automotive History Collection. [alhazred, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       I rather like this, as Deco/industrial is one of my favourite looks. Rather than imitating existing Deco pieces, the designer/stylist should consider how the project would have been approached in the period.
angel, Jun 12 2001

       A strong personal favourite; gets my vote!
Spidergoat, Jun 12 2001

       When I first saw the idea name, I had been thinking it would end up more along the lines of the radio/mp3 example. But as stated, it sounds like a great idea.
PotatoStew, Jun 12 2001

       Art Deco is my all time favourite. Just gotta love that Chrysler Building.
Have to say that there is a bit of a revival in this kind of style in european kitchen appliances, in the chrome 30's look. Not quite the full on rockerfeller centre, empire state, brass lamp of a naked woman, ghostbuster apartment style art deco, but definitely of the era. More 'Moderne' probably (a la Frank Lloyd Wright et al)...
Would probably say that Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' has to be the original futuristic Art Deco rendition (just check out even the movie poster on IMDb - it's great), and Queen's rip off of it in their video for Radio Ga-ga was pretty good too...
Come to think of it, I saw a TV version of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that was also of the genre - and who can forget 'Flash Gordon'?
goff, Jun 12 2001

       Some of the interiors in the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'Angel' TV series are worth a look. (I've been trying unsuccessfully to find a link for non-addicts.)
angel, Jun 13 2001

       How about 'Rennie Mackintosh' style (see link) motifs etc. on your PDA?
gil, Jun 13 2001

       [gil]: I hope you don't mean what I think you mean, namely, 'take a 21st century item and stick Art Deco motifs onto it.' As I suggested in my first annotation, surely it's better to design a piece how (you think) Mackintosh would have designed it, so the styling is *part of the piece* not just glued on afterwards.
angel, Jun 13 2001

       [goff], the design of Metropolis embodies Art Deco, but saying that it "started it all" is silly. If you must mark a single point, the Paris Exhibition of 1925 that gave the movement its name is a good start.
jutta, Jun 13 2001

       Sorry Jutta, I meant started it all purely in the sense of Art Deco as futuristic style, not Art Deco itself. As for that, well I agree the Paris Exhibition is probably a good start, but it really marked the end of a transformation from Art Nouveau to Art Deco which started with Charles Rennie mackintosh and Josef Hoffman and their reaction to that style in the early 1900's. Add in the Bauhaus movement, cubism, and Paul Poiret's fashion in the early 20's and you see a culmination of this at the 1925 Paris show.
This 'Art Deco' is still quite decorative though, and is exemplified by the sculpture of Chiparus and Preiss, and Lalique's glass. A lot of what we now call Art Deco, really marks the transition to the 'Moderne' style, with it's clearer, cleaner style and cubist influenced right angles and straight lines, epitomised by buildings such as the Empire State and the Rockerfeller centre. It has become a bit of a catch all - but it's a moot point. I love all of it!
goff, Jun 14 2001

       One of my favourite views in London is the window of the Lalique shop on Sloane Street. Wow. Was going to get my parents' silver anniversary present there, but realised that the last two zeros were actually *before* the decimal point. I'm no art fanatic, and those prices just kill me. See also the Tate Modern, the building itself I mean. Link coming up...
lewisgirl, Jun 14 2001

       This would get my 'yes yes yes!' vote...I like Art Deco and it's various spinoffs, lots of zoomy streamlining...
StarChaser, Jun 14 2001

       Related ideas:   

       Why does every 3d intensive "organic" thing have to look slimy & geigeresque? Bio engineered & precision machined "natural" items could turn into Arts & Craft and /or Deco style flourishes.   

       Soviet Realist devices, combining the Deco elements with the soon to be popular soviet kitch theme. My mp3 player will have the deco recessed layers & Enver Hoxa or Fidel Castro calling out the ID3 track names.
tenhand, Jun 18 2001

       Because then they don't look 'organic'.
StarChaser, Jun 18 2001

       Sorry Angel, I agree the PDA & releated items should be designed as pieces in their own right. For real OTT stuff how about a Faberge jewel encrusted item.
gil, Jun 25 2001

       Great idea, and let's have more bauhaus style furniture too! Ok, so it's not art deco, but it's always seemed strange to me that a lot of that kind of stuff designed in the 30s is more "modern" than anythign that's been developed since... I mean, does it get any better than a barcelona chair?
BertieWooster, Aug 16 2001

       I love the idea of more Bauhaus stuff (on a similar note ever heard of a guy with the last name off Hundertwasser?). I also love deco stuff. Its very pleasing to the eye.
kaz, Oct 04 2001

       I really did like the old fashioned time machines, with all of the fancy rotating wheels and gizmos on the outside, in contrast to the post-modern sleek...   

       ...oops, what year is this?

pluterday, Jan 15 2003

       [UnaBubba] I hope you aren't mocking the glass stucco mini houses that I love so much. Please say it isn't so!
thecat, Jun 16 2003

       See: many case modding sites and forums.
Face, May 27 2004

       There's a big difference between art nouveau and art deco people. I vote for any difference in designs of today; they are so bland, it's pathetic. Judging by the amount of people case-modding computers, and the wealth of retro car designs coming out, we're not the only ones looking for individuality.
connieconnie, Jul 07 2004

       [+] Oh yes! This will hopefully become baked.
Acme, Jul 15 2005

       This is a great idea, but the few attempts at retro versions of past designs have typically used cheesy looking plastic injection molding. Those great designs don't look good when they're cheaply made. If it was done with real chrome, quality wood etc I'd buy it.
doctorremulac3, Jul 17 2005


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