Materials & Techniques

Plastics: Art Deco and Streamlined Modern

Today much of our environment is constructed of plastic and the material is no longer considered exotic. Before WWII this was not the case. Early plastics like Bakelite (invented 1907) were considered manmade “miracles” because they were among the first wholly synthetic materials and could be molded into virtually any shape. In an era in which engineering and science were viewed as positive forces shaping a bold new future for mankind, objects made from plastics had a special allure and symbolic power that they no longer possess.

Adapted from

Charles Venable, wall text from the 11/18/2001 to 5/20/2002 exhibition “Art Deco and Streamlined Modern Design, 1920-1950”