I just returned from a restful vacation in somewhat-sunny Florida. The highlight for me was a day spent wandering around Miami’s Art Deco District. I told my wife that I felt like a kid in a candy store, looking at all the wonderful Art Deco buildings. It’s quite unreal, especially if you’re not exposed to such architecture on a regular basis.
The Art Deco style began in France in the early 1900s and picked up steam internationally in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s. It was a time of heavy industrialization and that can be seen as an influence in the style – sort of a blend of the old tradition with the modern (at the time). Hard to think of a better word to describe it than “eclectic.”
What strikes me about the style is its boldness. It feels, on the one hand, very clean and solid, but on the other hand like it really makes a statement, without being garish. It’s “kitsch” and somehow never out of style.
Many of the buildings I saw in my brief jaunt through Miami were mostly white, with a dash of colour. They had noticeable geometric shapes, nicely rounded edges, and often one feature that really caught your eye.
What can we apply from the Art Deco style to the design of websites and other material?
1. Keep things clean.
You can never go wrong with white (or off-white) as a background colour. And, as a rule, too much white space is better than not enough. It’s easy on the eyes and helps people focus on the important things.
2. Don’t be afraid to be bold.
Splashes of colour, patterns, texture, shapes/elements that stand out are what grab your audience’s attention.
3. Don’t overdo the boldness.
If you’ve got too many vivid colours or too many brash elements, they all end up competing with each other and nothing stands out. You end up with an eyesore that will confuse your customers and quickly lose their attention. Strive to create harmony in the design and a sense of flow, so they are easily drawn to the most important items (and you’ll need to figure out which few – at most – those items are).
4. Show some personality.
Obviously, the nature of your business will determine how “fun” your website or other marketing material should be, but do something to differentiate yourself and let your customers feel that they know you somewhat. A sense of familiarity goes a long way in creating trust and forming relationships.