The Art Deco style that is synonymous with South Beach, and Ocean Drive is a collaboration of different styles introduced by the different architects of the time. South Beach has come to be known as the Art Deco capital, and rightly so as it is home to largest concentration of 1920’s and 30’s resort style architecture in the world. And what better place than the beautiful and majestic coast of the Atlantic Ocean, where the neon lights and bustle of South Beach are shadowed only by the historic architecture.
The Art Deco district of South Beach was one of the earliest listings in the National Register, recognizing its importance as a design style. And important it is, beginning with the Mediterranean Revival Style of the early 1900’s. This was the style of choice during Ocean Beach’s first boom. Highlighting aspects of Italian, North African and Southern Spanish design, in this new resort town. With the new construction of hotels, apartment buildings and commercial structures to accommodate the fresh popularity of the region, these styles were applied to the building and are characterized by stucco walls, terra cotta and Cuban tile roofs, articulated door surrounds and details that are reminiscent of the Spanish Baroque and Classical styles.
The Art Deco that we know today is largely influenced by the 1924 Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes. This expo was a Parisian design fair that celebrated the decorative arts and its budding relationship with technology. With much of its characteristics stemming from Mayan and Egyptian motifs, the buildings of the time were generally designed with clean lines and geometric patterns. In South Beach, a unique adaptation also included nautical themes and tropical motifs. By the 1930’s and 1940’s industrial design had more of an influence on new architecture and a streamlined approached was adapted. This streamlining is evident in more than just buildings; everything from transportation vehicles to kitchen appliances adopted this style. Sharp corners were replaces by smooth edges and horizontal striping, otherwise known as “eyebrows”. The horizontal details are punctuated with vertical embellishments and other unique features that set this style apart from anything else.
The Streamline Moderne style is distinctly Miami Beach, and over the years has been highlighted by bold neon lights and brightly colored buildings. Whether you are visiting South Beach to visit these beautifully historic building or just happen to notice the stunning architecture and design while passing through, South Beach is definitely one of the American Mecca’s for the Art Deco style. Its inception and rebirth has proved that the beauty of Art Deco is timeless.