From the grandiose facades of their buildings to the intricate details of the interiors, Melbourne and Sydney are both cities with a rich history and abundance of art deco architecture. And what better way to appreciate this unique style than by enjoying a cocktail or two in one of this city’s many art deco bars?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the fascinating history of the art deco style, before suggesting four of the best art deco bars visit next time you’re in Sydney or Melbourne.
What is art deco?
Art deco is an iconic style that has been popular in design for decades. Its bold lines, modernist feel, and vivid colors have made it the go-to choice for many interior designers. Beyond simply being “a décor style”, art deco is a highly influential visual arts movement that originated in France during the 1920s. It was heavily inspired by different art movements such as cubism and futurism, as well as ancient Egyptian and Aztec architecture.
Generally speaking, art deco designs are characterized by bold geometric shapes, vibrant colors, limited ornamentation, and streamlined forms; as well as the use of materials like glass, chrome, marble, and stone. This aesthetic is often seen in furniture pieces, textiles, jewelry, home decor items, and architecture – if you’ve seen The Great Gatsby, then you’re already familiar with the art deco style without even necessarily being aware of it!
The style is often associated with the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 1930s due to its prevalence in cities like New York City during this time period. There’s a strong argument to be made that the art deco style was developed as a reaction against traditional Victorian styles that were popular at the time. Despite its age, art deco has remained relevant over time because of its ability to be adapted to fit different eras and trends (more on this below!).
The rise of art deco
As we touched on above, the term “art deco” is derived from the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts). This World’s Fair was a major influence in spreading the art deco movement around the world – the exhibition showcased many different styles of contemporary art as well as offered glimpses into future design trends.
In addition to introducing people to art deco designs, it also highlighted the importance of mass production in industrial manufacturing processes which had an impact on design aesthetics all over Europe during this period.
How has art deco evolved over time?
The art deco style has undergone several iterations since its 1925 Paris debut. During its heyday in the 1920s-1930s, art deco featured more ornate details like intricate carvings on furniture pieces or detailed patterns on fabrics and wallpaper, but with time it evolved into a much simpler form with less complexity in both lines and color palette.
Today’s modern version of art deco still incorporates aspects from its past (such as bold geometric shapes) but combines them with more muted colors like black or white for a more minimalist look that appeals to millennials who are looking for sleek yet timeless designs for their homes or businesses.
The resurgence of art deco in today’s culture
From bars and restaurants to furniture and textiles, we seem to have amassed a nostalgia for the art deco style in recent years that can be seen everywhere. Today, interior designers are once again embracing art deco with open arms. This timeless style has become particularly popular for bars and restaurants looking to make a statement with their decor. Bold colors like pink, teal, and black can be seen throughout these establishments, often paired with brass fixtures or velvet upholstery for a truly luxurious feel. The goal of these designs is to transport guests back in time while still feeling modern and relevant.
The best art deco bars in Melbourne and Sydney
- Tusk High Bar (133 Chapel Street, Windsor, Melbourne)
With its luxurious velvet furnishings, moody lighting, and stylish marble bar, Tusk High Bar is the perfect place to indulge in a little art deco opulence. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, this elegant bar is the perfect spot for after-work drinks or a romantic night out. And with an impressive menu of classic and contemporary cocktails on offer, there’s something to suit every taste.
- Garden State Hotel (101 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD)
The Garden State Hotel is a Melbourne institution and one of the city’s best-loved watering holes. Located in Flinders Lane, this historic pub has been serving up cold beers and good times since 1853 (yes, you read that correctly!). These days, the Garden State Hotel boasts a beautiful art deco dining room, as well as a spacious outdoor beer garden which is perfect for enjoying a few drinks on a balmy summer’s day.
- The Everleigh (150-156 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne)
Last but not least on our list is The Everleigh. This swanky speakeasy-style bar is hidden away down an unassuming laneway in Melbourne’s CBD. The Everleigh boasts an impressive menu of seasonal cocktails, as well as an extensive list of whiskies and other spirits. And with its luxurious leather banquettes and dark timber finishes, it’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy a moment of sophistication.
- Kittyhawk (16 Phillip Lane, Sydney CBD)
Last but not least on our list is Kittyhawk, an aviation-themed bar inspired by the art deco movement. This unique bar features beautiful aircraft models and vintage posters, and it’s the perfect place for aviation enthusiasts and art deco lovers alike. So, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind drinking experience, be sure to check out Kittyhawk next time you’re in Sydney.
If you’re looking to enjoy a cocktail or two in style, then be sure to check out one of these fabulous art deco bars next time you’re in Melbourne or Sydney. From luxurious speakeasies to laid-back neighborhood pubs, there’s something to suit every taste!