Now that summer is upon us it is easy to envision the season’s warm breezes 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 viewers to imagine themselves in the scene at their preferred 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.

What we now call the art deco style first appeared during the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, 1925, from which its name is derived. The style remained popular 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, thanks to its break with past styles and the sense of optimism it conveyed in the years after World War I. As with many popular trends, art deco permeated all levels of design, 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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