This was to be my first visit to Columbia Museum of Art and I was not disappointed. As a relatively new resident to Columbia and the USA I love to explore, it’s in my nature and I’m always seeking out new sights – it’s a habit I can’t shake after years of living in London. I started off my career as a print and graphic designer, after enjoying screen printing at university I always admired the work that goes into printmaking. So I have to say I geeked out over all the prints at the show.

I had no idea that Art Deco made its way over to Japan, I thought it was purely a western movement. I know the movement started in Europe and I am a big fan of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus. Modernism certainly made a big impact on my design thinking. I always like to ask myself as a designer, what can I take out? Is this needed? How much reduction of a design can I get away with? Now as an interactive designer this is even more important.

More About the Exhibition

This exhibition took up the ground floor of the museum, six connected rooms full of prints, statuettes, clothing, furniture, photography and paintings. In the words of the museum: ‘It tells a story of the innovation that results from a clash between the old and the new. Geisha becomes flappers and ancient origami cranes turn into sleek, gold statuettes’.

A Tiny Bit of History

Art Deco grew out of the principles of modernism, it illustrates the essence of modern living. It can be identified by decorative geometry, black, white and metallics. The Jazz age for Japan came between the world wars, with the international conflicts, global culture was encountered by Japan. Art Deco was a perfect mix for Japanese traditional style, old mixed with new effortlessly. Some artistic techniques may have stayed the same but the output was something very modern.

Art Deco: Timeless?

I’ve noticed that often this style is being used again in work today – I’ve done a quick Google search and spotted lovely superhero posters in an Art Deco style: It doesn’t end there either, some modern design is still influenced by this movement; fashion, architecture, art, furniture, etc. can display the style of Art Deco.

Recent Interpretations of Art Deco
Architechture, Wallpapers, Typefaces, More Typefaces, Packaging Design, Illustrations, Product Design, Lighting


Last Thoughts

If you enjoy the Art Deco style – I’m sure the Modernist Movement will be right up your street. Also, there is a more decorative style: Art Nouveau. Although it was replaced with Modernist styles, it is considered an important transition between the eclectic historic revival styles of the 19th century and Modernism. Art Nouveau posters in particular are great for color inspiration.