There’s No Place Like Home

1930s Rustic + Glamor in a Contemporary Venue.

What was it like to live in the built environment of the 1930s? The Victorian era and Gilded Age were not long past, and the modernist bent of the1920s was still making an indelible mark. Life in the 30s took many architectural forms: Dust Bowl farmhouses, gritty but glamorous speakeasies, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and Empire State building rising above all others for 42 years to come. In other words, it was eclectic, and that is a concept that translates well in our ever-changing contemporary society.


To inspire a 1931 ambiance with contemporary flair, UMOCA turned to the experts at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE. After all, finding and creating spaces that seamlessly blend old and new is their specialty, and cityhome designer Susannah Holmberg happens to be a member of the UMOCA Board of Trustees. As Holmberg explains, “Design is always enhanced by the layering of time periods. An antique piece may be more noticed when paired with modern and vice versa. Classic juxtaposition. In some ways it’s similar to how women in the 30s dressed. There were decidedly modern shapes and fabrics. Clothes and hairstyles were sleek, with influences of modernism and a touch of 1920s gender ambiguity. Those were paired with feminine and ornate textures of fringes, feathers, and sequins.”

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Looking back at 1930s architecture and interior design, Art Deco was extremely influential. Deco is a posh style, but even frugal, middle class homes began to adopt the look as materials became more accessible. Mass production and the prevalence of mirrors, Bakelite, nickel, chrome, and steel in Art Deco furniture and accessories made it possible for just about anyone to get in on the trend. The hallmark geometric patterns and motifs, glamorous ornamentation, and rich colors regularly appeared in home and office décor throughout the 40s.

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Perhaps as an accommodation to economic austerity, Streamline Moderne/Art Moderne design also became popular in the 1930s. Streamline was reminiscent of Art Deco, but stripped of ornamentation and focused more on minimalism. Inspired by scientific concepts of aerodynamics and speed, designs became ultra-modern. Glass bricks and cement replaced exotic woods and stones, and sharp angles gave way to curves that often gave buildings a nautical appearance. Colors were subdued earth tones, whites, and beiges with dark accents.


Many collectors and designers still love to incorporate Deco and Streamline themes, and the continued allure of 1930s underground nightclubs cannot be denied. With the help of local design firm 7D8, and a top-notch event design committee, UMOCA has been dutifully studying the iconography and décor of the 1930s. We will capture the grit and glamor of the era that gave rise to UMOCA in a contemporary setting. Join us for a night of art and indulgence in the industrial-chic atmosphere of the Fallout on June 4.