What is Art Deco?

From Mummies to Miami Vice

Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

When I arrived in Miami, the term art deco was something of a mystery to me. Of course, it had something to do with buildings in bright pastel colors... Miami Vice had taught me that much. But to pinpoint art deco and appreciate its ancient origins took me a little time. The name art deco itself comes from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes held in Paris in 1925, which promoted art deco architecture in Europe.

Although art deco looks ultra-modern, it dates back to the days of Egyptian tombs. Specifically, the discovery of King Tut's tomb in the 1920's opened the door to this enticing style. The stark lines, bold colors and zig-zag architectural features were added to objects placed in the tomb to entertain and enlighten the sleeping kings. This style greatly appealed to Americans, who were going through the "roaring 20's" and loved the eclectic look. They saw it as a symbol of decadence and extravagance, qualities their generation embraced.

Art, architecture, jewelry and fashion were all heavily influenced by the bold colors and sharp lines of the movement.

So why Miami? It was 1910 when John Collins and Carl Fisher undertook the daunting task of transforming the island now known as Miami Beach from a mangrove swamp to a tourist destination. By the time they were working on the coast, Ocean Drive, the art deco movement was in full swing. Anyone who was anyone wanted to spend their vacation in the high life of art deco surroundings. Voila- Miami Beach was not only born, but was born to be the place to see and be seen! It has enjoyed this popularity since its inception, and is proving to stand the test of time as year after year people come from all over to enjoy this gift of the pharaohs, art deco.