Swirls and curves, trapezoids and rectangles, steps and mirrors, sharp-edged black and white: sounds like a Fred Astaire movie set. Indeed, the style known as art deco combined the geometric motifs of the Machine Age with the high-gloss finishes and glamorous black-and-white color palette of the silver screen. Considered ultramodern at the height of its popularity, some of the first art deco designs came from the cutting edge Bauhaus School in Germany. In the 1930s, the architectural revolution arrived with panache and whimsy to South Beach, Miami.
At its best, art deco represented elegance, functionality and modernity. Its linear symmetry departed from the organic curves of its predecessor style art nouveau, and embraced influences from many different 20th century styles, including neoclassical, constructivism, cubism, futurism, and drew inspiration from ancient Egyptian and Aztec forms. Unlike many design movements with political or philosophical foundations, art deco was purely decorative, distinguished by features like flat roofs, smooth walls and bold exterior decorations—zigzags, swans, lilies and sunrise motifs—and the use of materials such as glass block, neon, chrome, and opaque glass panels.
Art deco’s appeal began to fade in the 1940s, as did South Beach. It resurged in the 1980s, when South Beach arose from the ashes to become an art deco vacation paradise. Today, its collection of more than 800 (the world’s largest of Streamline Moderne Art Deco) buildings from the 1930s and 40s have been transformed into an ultrachic destination of celebrities and a neighborhood of eccentric residents. It’s hard to believe the area once looked like a slum.
The renaissance into a wonderland has garnered global fame for the Art Deco District, now home to a mix of luxury resorts, chic hotels, hostels and national chain hotels. Ocean Drive is renowned for its trendy cafés, bikini-clad rollerbladers and beaches packed with sun-worshippers. Lincoln Road has emerged as a cultural, entertainment and retail magnet. But South Beach’s heart is its Art Deco Historic District, from 18th St. and south along Ocean Dr and Collins Ave—one of the largest areas in the USA on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr) offers an informative permanent exhibit in the gallery, walking tours of the area’s best in 1920’s architecture, and a gift shop for that extra special souvenir.
Our Top Art Deco Hotel Picks:
At a glance, the King & Grove Tides Hotel is somewhat reminiscent of a ship, but inside you’l find an all suites luxury hotel that occupies an ideal Ocean Drive location, just moments from the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Its 1930’s Art Deco period-inspired exterior stands poised in the historic Art Deco District, walking distance to Collins Avenue, Lincoln Road Mall and some of South Florida’s most acclaimed dining, nightclubs and shopping. This 4.5 star 1936 landmark hotel offers an intimate setting in one of the most vibrant beach locations in North America.
The Sagamore Hotel is called ‘The Art Hotel’ for a reason. It’s lobby is reminiscent of an art gallery with art works adorning the pristine white walls and various sculptural elements thoughtfully displayed throughout. Since The Sagamore’s opening in 2001, numerous works of art and photography, murals, sculptures and installations have been on exhibit for guests and visitors to enjoy. Book with us to stay at this Art Deco hotel with an artistic twist!
A classic Art Deco landmark, right in the Art Deco district lies The National Hotel, which has been on Collins Avenue since 1939. This beachfront hotel is amidst pulsating nightlife, exclusive shopping and a world of dining options, ensuring guests are just steps from must-see destinations including Lincoln Road Mall, Ocean Drive, Miami Beach Convention Center and Espanola Way. Book with us and receive waived resort fees, which gives you access to wifi, use of the fitness center, 2 lounge chairs and more!