Art Deco would be called a movement that was defined by its bold features and often eclectic in its concept. It was a shortened form of art decorative and was prevalent around the 1920s to 1940s. It emerged in France before World War I and had its effect all over the world in not only in buildings but in every other tangible art form. For some reason, art deco is concentrated in Mumbai when we talk about art deco’s influence in India, but nonetheless, the few parts of India that it has touched have left a significant impression.
Here are a few sets of examples of some Art Deco buildings that have majorly contributed to retrieving the style over the years.
1. New Empire Cinema, Mumbai | Art Deco
Initially built in a completely Victorian style, this theatre used to hold plays and movies with a seating capacity of over 1000 after its complete remodel an art deco innovation by British architect M.A Riddley Abbott. This was the oldest theatre in Asia to have a cantilevered balcony and to have existed over a century before it was closed in 2014 due to the losses suffered by the owners. The evolution of this building started with being elaborately designed in Victorian elements, then it was retrofitted with Baroque style by Architect Arthur Payne and the interiors done by O’Connor and Gerard. Years later it was designed to its current art deco statue.
2. New India Assurance Building, Mumbai
Built-in 1936, this is an office building entirely built-in reinforced concrete with Egyptian-looking murals and figurines on its facade. It was designed by the master, Sarhe and Bhuta, and artistically designed by N.G Pansare. One of its facades projects strong art deco features with some classical touch in its vertical ribs whereas its eastern and western facades provide relief to the forced mechanical central cooling duct system.
3. Raj Mandir Cinema, Jaipur
This cinema designed by that time famous W.M.Namjoshi is a statement to what defined grandeur back in the day. With a large meringue-shaped auditorium and its famous lighting system that switches colors before and after every show, this building is split into four sections namely ruby, emerald, diamond, and pearl. Another distinguishing feature of this theatre is the air conditioning ducts under the seats that let out a subtle floral aroma adding to the Eastman color ambiance. The walls are adorned with custom-made woodwork with a glass inlay and the high ceilings are fitted with chandeliers to add to the royal setting.
4. Sardar Samand Lake Palace, Jodhpur
Still tops the royal family’s list of retreats, this lake palace is an art deco hunting lodge that exists around another art deco signature of the locality. It houses a huge collection of African trophies and some of the original water paintings of snaffles. The palace has eighteen fully air-conditioned rooms that are extravagantly ornamented and spacious. It is also said to have its own oriental garden, swimming pool, and all other lavish components of a royal residence. Its art deco factor can be seen in its mixture of Rajasthani and western elements are hidden seamlessly behind the sand-colored and textured facade.
5. Eros Cinema, Mumbai | Art Deco
This building, one of the world heritage sites, is a part of the Victorian and art deco ensemble of Mumbai. Its facade look is a mix of red sandstone and cream paint and the murals adorning the foyer that forms the connection at the intersection of the two wings. Built by the architect Shorabji Bhedwar, this streamlines modern building marked the back-bay reclamation period in 1938.
Throughout the year’s Art Deco has been an evident architectural style around the world. In India, most of the structures belonging to this style are located in Mumbai. As the prominent role in propagating the movement was played by The Indian Institute of Architects. Today, many of these structures are decapitated or left unattended. So, to preserve and save the movement’s magnificent structures many architects, designers and engineers have come forward with action plans and citizen groups like Urban Design Research Institute, NAGAR, and The Oval Trust, to name a few. These groups have taken significant steps to form a petition to secure UNESCO World Heritage Site Status.