What is Art Deco? It’s really a style of decoration which specialises in bright cheerful imagery, often looking like a flat, if snazzy, addition to a building’s exterior walls or the walls of a room. If it looks a bit ‘showy’, well it’s meant to; if it looks a bit ‘tacked on’, that is also intended. There’s usually an interplay between the solidity of the basic structure behind the decoration and the light playfulness of the decoration itself; though oddly at the same time it’s often the same materials (brick, concrete, plaster) which make up both the background and the decoration.
If this sounds a bit obvious, contrast it with Victorian and Edwardian buildings of earlier times, where the brick or stone was set up to be the decoration itself – a heavy, ponderous way of introducing decoration – or the brutalist concrete of the 1960s onwards where decoration was dumped completely in favour of the ‘honest’ of raw concrete and pure ‘form’.