When you think of Art Deco, what comes to mind? Is it the flapper glamour of the 1920s, the bold geometric patterns, the lavish ornaments? Perhaps it\u2019s a combination of all three. Wherever our contemporary perceptions take their cues - and we suspect The Great Gatsby has a lot to answer for - Art Deco was for a time, pervasive, and reflected a bold move away from the previous status quo. Almost all parts of life in the 20s and 30s, even into the 40s, were shaped in some way by the design movement. Above all else, Art Deco was a celebration of modern times and technology, an embrace of luxury after the austerity of World War I. Considering its rich and convoluted context then, how do we \u2013 almost 100 years later \u2013 understand Art Deco? We put this question to architects and interior designers, who have shared with us their contemporary interpretations of Art Deco interiors and 1920s furniture design. \r\nA love of 1920s furniture design and style drew principal and lead designer of Infinite Design Studio, Michelle Macarounas, to an Art Deco heritage building (now her home) in Sydney\u2019s Coogee. With more than twenty years under her design belt, Michelle approached the project with a clarity and resolve that comes only from extensive experience. She knew what design elements of the era would work in the building, and what parts had the potential to turn comical. \u201cCliche and themed was not on the agenda,\u201d Michelle recalls. \u201cFor us the design was about paying respect to Art Deco with small, unobtrusive referencing.\u201d\r\nRespecting the period features of the home and finding inspiration from the Art Deco philosophy was key for Michelle and her team, but they also had to consider contemporary needs and modern use of space. As such, a number of features were used to marry the traditional and the modern day. \u201cBringing more contemporary lines to the existing design was a natural progression,\u201d Michelle tells. \u201cWhile keeping the depth of the dark veneers with fresh monochromatic finishes gave a wink to the original time of the home and allowed for consistency to flow throughout,\u201d she adds. In reference to the shiny, lacquered look that characterises 1920s furniture design, key pieces and joinery were finished with glass polyurethane for added flair. In this home, an intrinsic sense of drama is never far from the surface. \r\nMichelle\u2019s advice to others looking to pay homage to Art Deco and mirror key elements of 1920s furniture design? Keep it simple. \u201cWhen you\u2019re looking to reference any period of time [in designs], it\u2019s important to be subtle,\u201d she says. \u201cThe charm of a small link to a period or style gives a much greater impression than a themed cliche design,\u201d Michelle explains. \u201cPlay with new ways of using the finishes and fixtures of the time to give a modern edge.\u201d\r\nKirsten Stanisich, director at SJB Interiors, also favours a less is more approach when it comes to reinterpreting traditional designs for a contemporary audience. She says the best designs don\u2019t aim to recreate projects from previous decades - it just doesn\u2019t work like that. \u201cWe don\u2019t really approach any of our projects in a literal way of reproducing a past period,\u201d she explains. \u201cWe take cues and reference ideas where we think they are appropriate and interesting, and give us an opportunity to develop our design thinking.\u201d Collections, Kirsten offers, can be a more authentic, less calibrated way of engaging with design elements from eras gone by. \u201cLook at collecting some original Art Deco pieces, whether that is furniture or objects,\u201d she suggests. \u201cContrasted against a contemporary space, the setting will really highlight the beauty of the individual pieces.\u201d\r\nRather than requests to imitate old school Art Deco features, FMD Architects faced a different challenge when they took on a project in Melbourne a few years ago. Deco Residence was built in 1930 and as the name suggests, retains all the architectural features of the era. The brief was to modernise the building to meet the needs of a young family of five, while also restoring the home\u2019s features to their former glory. Modern details needed to defer to the more dominant historical characteristics, rather than take over or further muddy the waters. Director of FMD Architects, Fiona Dunin, approached this balancing act delicately, and suggests that others in a similar position do the same. \u201cRespect the Art Deco details and understand they are of their time,\u201d Fiona says. \u201cDon\u2019t reproduce them. Rather, restore what is there, then reinterpret them in a contemporary way.\u201d \r\nNew sculptural elements were introduced throughout the home to counterbalance the dramatic period details and 1920s furniture designs. In the master bedroom, a bespoke bedhead and storage unit anchors the bed in the middle of the space, while a curved mirrored wall in the main ensuite responds to the curves in the home\u2019s original design. Where Art Deco details were particularly striking, Fiona and the team stripped back any other elements that could take away from the architectural impact. \r\nDesign is in a constant state of flux and so too are the art and design movements that we so often consign to the past. While new designs become old and old designs are born again, there\u2019s plenty of ways that Art Deco and 1920s furniture design can, and is, being reinterpreted for a new wave of avid followers.