Art Deco is a style that became popular in the 1920s and 30s and continued evolving after WWII. It has remained a symbol of hope and prosperity even after its reigning era.
From NYC’s Empire State Building to South Beach’s pastel “Deco delights” and London’s futuristic nautical buildings, cities across the globe have developed their own unique, regional interpretation of the style.
Here are 10 examples of Art Deco architecture worldwide and some key landmarks that define the style for each city.
The windy city is one of the best examples of North American deco.
Landmarks like the black and gold Carbide and Carbon Building, the Century Tower, and the Merchandise Mart are all great examples of the city’s blunt and sharp approach to Art Deco, a nod to modernism and industrialization.
Local Art Deco Society: Chicago Art Deco Society
Known as the “Art Deco Capital of the World,” Napier was rebuilt in the style following a devastating earthquake in 1931.
The city’s approach carries a sense of lightness and optimism, as seen in the quaint Masonic Hotel and the cream and pastel-pink National Tobacco Company Building.
Local Art Deco Society: Art Deco Trust, Napier
Mumbai’s approach to Art Deco is married to its cultural heritage and past ties to the British Empire. The deco buildings here feature ornate details and use colors like green, red, and gold for a style all of its own.
The city is home to the second-largest concentration of Art Deco buildings, following only behind Miami Beach.
Local Art Deco Society: Art Deco Mumbai
Miami Beach, FL
Miami Beach is home to the Historic Art Deco District, which adorns the city’s streets with its tropical, pastel flair.
Nowhere is this more notable than on Ocean Drive, the city’s promenade and heart of the deco district, which lights up the streets in neon at night.
Local Art Deco Society: Miami Design Preservation League
Tulsa’s deco buildings were built following an oil boom along the Arkansas River. Its deco style is mainly functional and was used in churches, high schools, and commercial office buildings.
Take, for example, Boston United Methodist Church, with its use of terracotta and ornamentation adorning its facade.
Local Art Deco Society: Tulsa Preservation Commission.
Beyond Miami, Havana is also a great example of tropical deco with a twist. Its style of deco is married to its colonial past and is a response to a time when the nation was flooded with American products and media.
The Bacardi Building is perhaps the most distinctive of the Cuban Deco style. When it was completed, it was the city’s first skyscraper and remains one of its prominent landmarks.
Local Art Deco Society: Habana Deco
Shanghai’s version of Art Deco dates back to the 1920s – 1940s when the city began embracing and merging Eastern and Western ideals in design and architecture.
The result brought traditional Chinese motifs, patterns, and materials — like ivory, wood, and silk. Many of the Western-inspired Deco buildings also have pagoda-like roofs.
Local Art Deco Society: Shanghai Art Deco
Art Deco became popular in London shortly after its introduction to the masses in Paris. The style helped build its status as a hub for business and culture.
The style can be found in factories, power stations, and newspaper buildings, such as the nautical former Daily Express Building.
Local Art Deco Society: Art Deco Society UK
Durban, South Africa
This coastal city in South Africa is another example of deco that made the most of color, with plenty of pastel deco buildings adorning the city.
Buildings like the Althea Court feature Aztec-influenced decorations. The style in South Africa was also widely influenced by British and American architecture.
Local Art Deco Society: Durban Art Deco Society.
New York, NY
New York Art Deco is modern and futuristic, nodding to the machine age.
Some of the city’s most iconic views are of deco buildings, like the Chrysler Building with its crown of spires and the sleek Empire State Building.
Here, the style is sharp and refined to match the beaming pace of the city that never sleeps.
Local Art Deco Society: Art Deco Society of New York.