By: Holland McGraw
Art deco is defined by its design style, but I believe it to be a celebration of the human spirit expressed in a decorative format. Human ingenuity inspired the Art Deco movement. Man’s ability to fly and create buildings that reach into the sky, the ability to turn on a radio and have instant sound waves break the silence and entertain a quiet room from miles away; all of this combined with the discovery of an ancient untouched Pharaoh’s tomb created a new and surreal world. People celebrated their new and exciting experiences in a decorative format that still captures our imagination today, that’s Art Deco.
Art Deco was first showcased in France in 1925 at the art exposition at Le Musee Des Arts Decoratifs. That being said I don’t believe that styles and trends start or stop with one idea, person or exposition, but are born out of a cumulous push by people and events over a span of time that predates and surpasses designated time frames.
Why the rant about Art Deco you ask? Early American soda bottles have been coined Deco Bottles. They celebrate the human spirit in the Deco style, but when taking a closer look at these ornate bottle beauties from the past, they not only represent Art Deco but an earlier design, Art Nouveau.
Many of the early American soda bottles that fall under the label of Art Deco are really Art Nouveau bottles. Art Nouveau predates Art Deco and was inspired by nature and expressed with curved lines; where as Art Deco was inspired by straight lines, symmetry and technology.
The most famous bottle the world has ever known. A bottle that can be identified by different people, who speak different languages and live in different places around the world is the one and only, Coca-Cola bottle. The Coca-Cola bottle is a great example of Art Nouveau.
The design of the Coca-Cola bottle started with a desire and a question. The Coca-Cola company wanted a bottle that was unique and unmistakable for their product. “What is Coca-Cola made out of?” That question along with confusion between Cocoa and Coca led the designers to create a bottle designed after the Cocoa pod. This makes the Coca-Cola bottle the most famous mistake in the world, a beautiful mistake.
As natural themes vanished and man made technology became more prevalent in the 1920’s everything from buildings, house hold appliances to soda bottles were fashioned in the Deco style. Art Deco soda bottles encompass all of these traits while encouraging the consuming public to dream a little.
Bottles with Indian heads, labeled with words like Big Nickel and textured cubist accents were immortalized and embossed in glass.
I once heard someone say that man is no longer evolving physically, but mentally through the creation of machines that manipulate the environment we live in. This means that Art Deco celebrates the evolution of man.