If you love the simple lines and geometric motifs of the Art Deco era, you can purchase handmade original pieces and reproductions to add to the beauty of your home. Whether old or new, these quality, artisan-made pieces exude Jazz Age style.
Finding Original Handmade Art Deco Furniture
The Art Deco era was all about sleek, factory-made furniture, so finding exclusively handmade pieces can be challenging. However, you do have a few options. Smaller shops and furniture artisans still crafted pieces during this period, often responding to customers' desire for that iconic Art Deco Look.
Tips to Help Identify a Handmade, Antique Piece
Since most Art Deco-style furniture was made in factories, knowing how to identify a handmade item is important. These tips can help:
- If the furniture has drawers, pull one out. Examine the joinery. Is it dovetailed? Dovetailed drawers, especially if the dovetails are not exact or perfect, is a sign of a quality handmade piece.
- Measure the furniture carefully and record the measurements. A handmade piece, no matter how well-made, will not be perfectly symmetrical or square. Expect to find some measurements longer on one side than on the other, even if the difference is only a fraction of an inch.
- Check the smaller components of the furniture, such as carved handles, chair spindles, and feet. These should not be identical to one another, since each would have been made by the human hand.
- Also check the piece over for furniture labels. If the furniture was factory-made, it will often have a label in some inconspicuous place. Look at the undersides of tabletops and drawers, the backs of bookcases, and the bottoms of sofas and chairs.
- Veneers were very popular during the Art Deco time period, but they don't necessarily signal a machine-made item. Don't rule out a piece simply because it has veneer.
- Look for an artist's signature. Handmade pieces are often signed by the craftsman who made them.
Where to Shop for Artisan-Made Art Deco Furniture
You can look for handmade pieces at your local antique stores. Although you won't find the best selection this way, you will have the advantage of being able to examine the piece in person to determine its authenticity.
If you're looking for a better selection of items, shopping online may be your best bet. Be sure that any sale is contingent upon your approval of the piece when you see it. Consider some of the following shopping resources:
- Ruby Lane - This online antique mall has a great selection of antique Art Deco pieces. Read the descriptions carefully to find those items that are handmade. The selection changes constantly, so you'll want to stop back often to see what's new.
- Valerio Antiques - Specializing in the Art Deco period, this antique store has a huge number of beautiful pieces you will love. Some are artisan-made and even feature the artist's signature. The selection changes frequently.
- Ritter Antik - This antique dealer, based in New York and Germany, has a number of lovely Art Deco furniture items. Read individual descriptions to find pieces that are artisan-made and stop back often to see what's new.
- eBay - You can also find antique Art Deco pieces on eBay. Read the description of each piece carefully and be sure to note which pieces are handmade and which require pick-up. Stop back often to check the changing selection.
Handmade Reproduction Furniture
Many people think that reproduction furniture is cheaply made, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are plenty of quality pieces out there, which should feature hardwoods like maple, oak, and cherry and hand-applied finishes. Drawers should be dovetailed, and everything should have a substantial, well-made feel. You can either purchase a piece from an established studio or work directly with a professional to commission a one-of-a-kind item.
Where to Buy Handmade Art Deco Reproductions
There are a few companies that specialize in handmade furniture in the Art Deco Style. Consider one of the following:
- Pollaro Handmade Furniture - Specializing in everything Art Deco, this furniture studio makes everything from cabinets and tables to upholstered pieces like sofas and chairs. They also do a lot of work with inlays and medallions.
- Joel Liebman Custom Handmade Furniture - Here, you can create a custom piece from any era, including the Art Deco period. Pieces are exclusively handmade. You won't find upholstered furniture here, however.
Selecting a Professional Furniture Artist
There are many professional furniture designers who love to recreate beautiful pieces of furniture for their clients. These professional artists can usually work from photographs or drawings to build the perfect piece to your specifications. Contact local art galleries and high-end furniture shops to find an artist who works directly with clients.
There are a few things to consider when hiring someone to make a custom piece of furniture:
- A time line for the finished product
- Approximate cost of materials
- Hourly rate of the professional
- A written estimate of all the costs for the project
- A contract for the project, which includes final approval of the furniture, and return options if you are dissatisfied with the work
Remember, one rule of thumb for any project, especially a commissioned piece of furniture, is to get all of the details in writing.
Style and Sophistication
Whether you purchase a handmade reproduction piece of Art Deco-style furniture or you find a genuine antique piece that meets your needs, you'll love the style and sophistication this gorgeous furniture style brings to your home. Take your time choosing the perfect piece of handmade furniture, and you'll end up with an heirloom that will delight your family for generations to come.