Now that summer is upon us it is easy to envision the warm breezes of summer or the possibility of taking a trip to a tropical getaway. In this wallpaper manufactured by United Wallpapers we can at least have a convincing staycation. Cheerful blues, greens, and yellows adorn this upbeat paper which depicts figures relaxing along the beach and pool side. The figures are engaged in both active pursuits such as swimming and tossing a beach ball, as well as the more leisurely activity of lounging poolside, allowing the viewer to insert themselves in their preferable exertion level. Curved palm trees, soaring gulls, and delicate flowers all contribute to the tropical ambiance of this design, the bold colors and figural profiles call to the popular style of art deco.

Art deco, in the way we think of it today, first appeared during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, 1925, from which it’s name is derived, and endured as a popular style until the beginning of World War II. Designs in this style are characterized by bright colors and geometric motifs, seen here in the buildings and furniture, and by streamlined patterns, as intimated by the line work representing water and land. Art deco became widespread due to its break with past modes of style and expression, and expressed the optimism of the post-war years. As with many popular trends, it permeated all levels of design in society and its influence is still visible in New York City today; the Chrysler Building being one of the most famous examples.

Emily Ewen is a student in the History of Design & Curatorial Studies graduate program at the Cooper Hewitt, and is a Master’s Fellow in the Wallcoverings Department.

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