Art Deco is eclectic form of elegant and stylish modernism, influenced by a variety of sources, including Art Nouveau, Cubism, Futurism, Primitive and Egyptian art, as well as "The Machine Age" industrial developments of the time. Art deco visual motifs include geometric shapes, curves, Egyptian zigzags, sunbursts, lightening bolts, airbrushed ray bands, motion lines, aerodynamic and streamlined forms.The bold use of stepped forms, sweeping curves, chevron patterns, and the sunburst motif are typical of Art Deco.
In Graphic Design the most influential designer of the art deco era was Adolphe Mouron Cassandre. His advertising posters and type designs helped define the art deco look. His first notable success was The Woodcutter (1923; Paris, Mus. Affiche & Pub.), executed in clear, simplified forms, somewhat influenced by Cubism. The airbrushed ray band motif used here was to become a major influence.
Cassandre produced hundreds of posters in his career. It is said that he helped make commercial art a respected profession. He often used the term "advertising engineer" to describe what he did. The magic of these posters lay in their bigger-than-life imagery and Cassandre's extraordinary sense of the dramatic. Every poster bore an invention in letterforms, fashioned as an integral part yet providing a visual bonus—lyrical, playful, geometric or decorative, and above all never banal.
Cassandre also designed several classic art deco typefaces: Bifur (1929), Acier Noir (1935) and Piegnot (1937). He only used capitals in his designs as he believed that they were more legible, especially when seen on a large scale. The way Cassandre links his typography with his images is one of the hallmarks of his design. Type is not a separate element but is integrated with the image to create the unified concept of the design.
Sadly, Cassandre took his own life in 1968. A letter of rejection for a new typeface design was found on his desk.
Art Deco buildings are still in abundance in many cities today influencing designers and artists who live in or near them. A resurgence of interest in Art Deco came with graphic design in the 1980s, where its association with film noir and 1930s glamour led to its use in ads for jewelry and fashion
Here is a great flash slide show of Art Deco Graphic Design
Sites on Cassandre: