The art deco style, which above all reflected modern technology, was characterized by smooth lines, geometric shapes, streamlined forms and bright, sometimes garish colours. Initially a luxury style (a reaction against the austerity imposed by World War I) employing costly materials like silver, crystal, ivory, jade and lacquer, after the Depression it also used cheaper and mass-produced materials like chrome, plastics, and other industrial items catering to the growing middle class taste for a design style that was elegant, glamorous and functional.
The word art deco derives from the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs Industriels et Modernes, held in Paris. The show was organized by an association of French artists known as, La Societe des Artistes Decorateurs (society of decorator artists), led by its founders Hector Guimard (1867-1942), Eugene Grasset, Raoul Lachenal, Paul Follot, Maurice Dufrene, and Emile Decour, some of whom were previously involved in Art Nouveau. Note however that the term Art Deco was not widely used until popularized by the art historian and critic Bevis Hillier in her book Art Deco of the 20s and 30s (1968).