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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Towards A New Modern Housing Typology: Art Deco Housing in Miami Beach

Palm trees, warm waters, beautiful landscapes, and Art Deco architecture are quintessential elements to Miami Beach. The years following the end of World War I brought about a new influence to the arts and architecture disciplines that would be known today as the Art Deco style. The style associated with this time showcased ideas from architects and designers that actively represented their ideas on what modernity should look like through the industrial advancements of the 1920's; including: mass production of goods, new technologies focusing on transportation and communication, increased urbanization, and heightened nationalism. Through the period's height of influence, Art Deco would become widely adapted throughout the globe. In particular, the Miami Beach Art Deco District is still one of the largest and most well preserved historical sites of this style in art and architecture. Moreover, housing units of hotel towers, apartments, and houses, of the Art Deco style showcase how people were living in the years associated with the period; bringing with it an evolution of design styles that perpetuated the Art Deco style and flourished within Miami Beach.

By the beginning of World War II, Miami Beach was a popular winter resort town built on an island offset from the Florida peninsula. Previous to being an urban metropolis, the beach was known for its rural coconut tree and scrub forest terrain. The history of Miami Beach began in 1880, when Henry Lum purchased 80 miles of ocean property for 35 cents an acre and planted 300,000 coconut trees with visions of making a fortune from coconut oil. Even though the coconut oil market was not lucrative for Lum, the urban development of southern Florida became profitable during the late 1800's as an extension to the Florida East Coast Railway; instantly becoming a popular destination of those who wanted to escape colder weather for warm tropical landscapes.

In particular, Miami Beach grew in popularity through the investment of real estate development companies as a way to urbanize their land, becoming a popular module along the Florida coast. Carl Fisher is attributed to much of the success of the urban planning behind designing Miami Beach, stimulating the local real estate market and partaking in much of the town planning needed in creating a new city; ultimately forming Miami Beach to what it is today. Fisher was a firm believer of the power of the machine age, which would later inspire architects of the 1930's to design in a modernistic style. Ultimately, Fisher's vision of future and progress was influential to the progressive architecture of Miami Beach, which would later be designed to showcase the progress of technology.

Fisher also planned Lincoln Road which connected Biscayne Bay to the Atlantic Ocean and housed a glamorous shopping district. Lincoln Road was designed in correspondence with the City Beautiful movement by incorporating a one hundred foot wide street with corner buildings sweeping at the intersection and coconut trees lining the road. Fisher incorporated two sidewalk zones that let window shoppers browse, while others were able to move freely and uninterrupted in the window browsing zone. Lincoln Road developed into a social zone for the city and soon housed four movie cinemas and the office tower of Fisher's real estate company, centrally located as the east to west connector to downtown Miami.

The first urban planning act for Miami Beach was enacted in 1912 when Miami bankers, John N. Lummus and James E. Lummus, created the Ocean Beach Realty Company and plotted land along the southern end of the island. Streets and avenues were aligned parallel to the ocean and laid out alongside the ferry terminal that would carry passengers between the Florida mainland to the island of Miami Beach. Blocks were typically comprised of a 400 feet by 300 feet grid, divided into fifty-four wide lots, typical of the American streetscape. Main avenues flowed north to south, aligning with the oceans to present itself with views of the landscape. Narrower streets connected the avenues together and were placed from east to west. The pattern of the cityscape was replicated northward on the island by developer John Collins, creator of the Miami Beach Improvement Company in 1913. Collins made many important contributions to the city of Miami, the most famous being the two-and-a half mile automobile bridge connecting to the mainland in 1918; no longer needing a ferry to travel to and from Miami Beach. However, designing the ideal urban plan for Miami Beach became a burden when real estate developers had competing ideas as to how Miami Beach was to achieve its full potential. The city was designed as different communities, often owned by different real estate developers, all having different ideas on urban planning. Some designs included: resort hotels that focused on a courtyard, gridiron of the city's streets, the idea of a grand boulevard, and a garden parkway; all of which were built on the island by the 1920's. Since each development was built as individual plans on the ideal vision of what Miami Beach should become, the different ideas produced a multidimensional vision of the Miami Beach developers. For example, the Ocean Beach Realty Company incorporated traditional beach town designs of an oceanfront boardwalk in South Beach that would become the prominent street of the city, incorporating casinos, houses, and hotel resorts. The northern development, known as Collins Park, was developed by the Miami Beach Improvement Company and incorporated a community of oceanfront hotels and houses. Both South Beach and Collins Park were designed similarly by exploiting oceanfront property to the adjacent buildings and designing streets in a gridiron pattern, neither designs included a urban space for civic uses. The northern and western sides of the islands were designed as picturesque garden suburbs inspired by those of Frederick Law Olmsted, where the suburbs' recreational facilities, golf courses and polo fields, were connected to the ocean and other waterfront accesses.

Also during this timeframe, the earliest construction of Miami Beach housing, circa 1914, was being constructed. Carl Fisher published, Winter Homes for Southern Florida, where he intended to dictate the designs of houses to follow pattern books designed specifically for Miami Beach. The book showcased designs of fifteen houses that were centered on the idea of the Floridian villa which pulled design inspirations from the Italianate, Prairie Style, and the American version of the Colonial style. Fisher's book lacked traction and ultimately never resulted in any houses built to the specifications set forth by the book. Instead, typical Florida vernaculars of wooden structures were continued to be built; many of which incorporated large windows for breezes to flow into the space, deep porches, and overhanging eaves to provide shading from the sun. Other popular residential construction methods included the use of masonry and stucco. The suburbs were divided into fifty foot lots that helped establish the integrity and luxury of the city, while still enforcing setbacks and height reinforcements throughout. Along the waterfront, Fisher required luxurious houses to be built. In particular, Fisher persuaded wealthy businessmen to build their houses in the area; two of which included Harvey Firestone of the Firestone Tire Company and Frank Sieberling of the Goodyear Tire Company.

By 1915, Miami Beach was incorporated into a city and advertised as, “Miami Beach is calling you”, which ultimately proved to be a successful marketing campaign. Shortly after in the 1920's, Miami Beach experienced a groundbreaking tourist boom which created a healthy economy based on construction and tourism and became one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Construction at the time was influenced heavily from hotel towers and low-rise apartment buildings being built in New York City in the 1920's. The Great Florida Land Boom paralleled the development of the Mediterranean Revival and impacted many traditions of early Miami Beach architecture by introducing a more urban and refined style. Housing during this time frame became more grandiose and was now ornamented with decorative motifs. The Mediterranean Revival style also brought new architectural forms to housing units of this time, including a courtyard patio that became a prominent feature of Miami Beach housing typologies. In southern Florida, this revival achieved a vernacular adaption to the style; facades were asymmetrical, articulated by wall forms, and different roof heights. Stucco was a common wall surface with terra cotta being used on roof tiles. The most recognizable feature of this era was the variety of arches (semicircular, Moorish, or segmental forms). Window placement varied from being strategically placed to being randomly assigned, usually installed with casement windows. Doors were typically ornate and carved in wood. The Spanish Baroque also had an immense impact on the motifs around the doorways, windows, pediments, and cornice. Interiors were often characterized by having exposed beamed ceilings, terra cotta flooring, and intricate fireplace mantels.

During this economic boom, South Beach had started to become drastically developed, shifting new housing construction from houses to hotel structures, bringing a new housing culture to Miami Beach. In the early 1920's, Fisher would begin construction on extravagant hotels such as the Flamingo and the Nautilus on the western piece of land. Other hotels were also developed around the amenities of the community, such as the King Cole in 1925 and the Boulevard in 1925. These hotels set the tone for future resort developments. The Flamingo Hotel was designed by Philadelphian based architects, Price & McLanahan with a large central tower topped with a glass dome, with the inspiration of the design idea coming from the flamingo bird found in tropical climates such as Florida and the Caribbean. Ultimately, the Flamingo Hotel set a precedent for artistic expression of representing tropical elements throughout the city's architecture. Despite the towering nature of the hotel over the garden, the hotel was seen as similar to skyscrapers being built in northern industrial cities of New York and Chicago. These early examples of hotels became icons to Miami Beach's skyline and could be seen from across Biscayne Bay and also helped to develop nearby residential districts. Construction would start at the hotel which lead to a demand for single family housing that would be located adjacent to the land of the hotel.

The Art Deco style became existent in Miami Beach after a hurricane in 1926 helped to bring the design style to the island. After the hurricane hit Miami Beach, architects from New York City helped to restore and rebuild the city. These architects, brought their enthusiasm of the new style affecting the current buildings of New York City at that time, the Art Deco, which consequently inspired local architects to start building in that style. The glamorous depictions of American jazz music and Hollywood had a resemblance to the glamorous lifestyle of those on Miami Beach, inspiring the architects to adapt this new style that focused on a luxurious aesthetic into the architecture of Miami Beach. On the island, Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue became the most developed streets within the style, showcasing several Art Deco resorts from this period. The majority of hotels built within the two streets are smaller scaled, typically rising three stories, but some rising towards seven stories. Due to zoning laws passed in the 1930's, lots within the island where small, preventing structures from being horizontal. As a result, architects designed vertically, which became the prominent axis in the earliest examples of the Art Deco on Miami Beach. In addition to highlighting the vertical axis, architects embellished the facade with decorative facades and bright colors.

Unfortunately, the Great Depression caused an end to the great “land bloom” that the city had experienced, which consequently ended constructing buildings in the Mediterranean Revival style. However, Miami Beach had found a way to recover from the Great Depression and experienced another period of excessive construction in the early 1930's. By 1935, Miami Beach was once again one of the fastest growing cities in America. Due to the Depression, home ownership rates decreased, producing new and modern housing in low-rise apartment units and apartment towers. The majority of this construction typology was built along the streets west of Washington Avenue to Flamingo Park. By 1941, most land lots in Miami Beach were built upon and the city had nearly completed its prominent urban design features. Housing units were now being influenced by the machine age and the mobility of new technologies. Some causes of creating a new housing model focused on the heavy urbanization of the city and lack of land to build on.

The German housing model, Siedlungen, was introduced to the United States in the late 1920's, incorporating new modern housing units that would be able to accommodate for large populations within a city. Unlike other cities within the U.S., Miami Beach was not associated with government programs that had mandated the use of new housing developments; Miami Beach had adopted modern housing designs before other American cities had accepted the new modern style. New apartment units in Miami Beach were adapted from the Siedlungen design to have exterior catwalks and walk-up stairwells that allowed visitors to walk directly to the doorway, giving the apartment more house-like qualities. The stairwells were vertical anchors that linked the apartments to the garden patios, a staple in the Mediterranean Revival period. The apartment units were now adorned with more closet space and better kitchen ergonomics. Through the construction of these new apartment buildings, architects maintained a connection to the tropical climate by incorporating canvas pavilions to shade patios for outdoor activities and tropical plants to provide front-yard elements to the facade.

The new urbanization after the Great Depression became a catalyst to the development of Miami Beach as a modern city. Hotel resorts and apartment structures were now designed as towers, replacing the small scale residential houses. Empty lots of land were developed, now providing a continuous urban development throughout all of Miami Beach. The ideals of the new American city were based on high-rise buildings that were being built in New York City, which became a prototype of how American cities should look like. The Miami Beach skyline had now changed from low-rise buildings, of a maximum height of three stories, to high-rise towers accommodating new housing structures, ultimately becoming a progressive standard of American residential living. Architects such as Ralph Thomas Walker saw the high-rise structures as part of living within the machine age. Walker even stated, “The skyscraper, to my mind, is the only means, and I am making that very broad, of living in this age of the machine. It is a perfect example of an expression and a reflection of this age.”

The acceptance of the idea of modernity and the technology it produces sets the tone of the most common motifs of the Art Deco district; mobility expressed in the designs of patterns on the facades of the building. Even though speed and mobility have always been concerns for architects, the period after World War I led to widespread thoughts of speed and movement represented through art and architecture. In the 1920's, mobility was represented with zig-zag patterns represented on rectilinear buildings and eventually evolving in the 1930's to a more streamlined, curvilinear form of the buildings associated with this period. The result of representing mobility caused a new pattern that is prominent in the Art Deco style. Surface patterns became ornamented with mobilization motifs while incorporating the motifs into spaces that were important to culture at that time. Most often in Art Deco buildings, these types of motifs were found in major circulation spaces of buildings. Lobbies and facades were now visually expressing the mobilization of technology through the circulation of people through a building or a street corner. Not only did the mobilization motifs include modern transportation, it also included antiquated modes of transportation and communication techniques that helped pave the way for modern technology. The Art Deco style also began expressing the daily habits of society and everyday buildings were now designed with Art Deco forms; for example: office buildings, department stores, gas stations, radio stations, movie theaters, and houses.

The Art Deco style also brought hope and optimism to the American society that was coping with the Great Depression, by highlighting a certain fashionable lifestyle that was prominent during the early 1920's and 1930's. Architects and designers of the time focused on designing “masterpieces” rather than ordinary objects that could be used by the middle class. Historian Michael Windover states, “Despite the social-democratic objectives purported by many Modern Movement architects, Modernism is often seen as elitist and authoritative and affiliated with the interests of a privileged minority. But Art Deco likewise carries an elitism connected to taste and patterns of emulation; however, with its association with individualism and consumer culture— what we might call its “popularized elitism” (even “glamour” in some cases).” The Art Deco aesthetic focused on a luxurious quality that can be seen in building typologies associated with entertainment (department stores, radio stations, movie theaters, etc.) that were usually associated with nobility at that time. Unlike housing projects that can be seen in Europe during the 1920's and 1930's, Art Deco design was focused on pleasing individual's desires for whom the building was designed for, rather than focusing on an equitable design pleasing multiple people. Ultimately, Art Deco helped reinforce a life of luxury through designing for an affluent urbanized community.

Miami Beach embraced the machine age and the use of mobilization which now affected the designs of hotels that became adorned with Art Deco motifs that reflected the modernity and expression of the period. These buildings would also represent prosperity, futurism, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Oceanfront hotel towers became quickly developed to visually express the new design ideals that encompassed living a glamorous lifestyle. Architect, Henry Hohauser, was one of the first architects to embrace the new Art Deco style through his design for The Colony Hotel in 1935. Designed as a rectangular form, the facade is elaborated with continuous ribbon windows that wrap around the corners of the building with “eyebrows”, horizontal planes exuding from the facade, hanging above the windows. The Colony is also noted for its marquis and canopy which became the design's focal piece.

The International Style had played a significant role in determining the rectilinear forms of the new Art Deco buildings. The Art Deco stucco buildings were incorporating geometries expressing the volume and theatrical qualities of cubist massing while highlighting the importance of machinery within the motifs. Planes were offset from each other to give depth to the cube-like forms, casting shadows on the building forms. These planar offsets where also used to introduce color and materials which became essential to Miami Beach's Art Deco designs. Soon after, other architects: Lawrence Murray Dixon, Anton Skislewicz, and Roy France, began focusing on abstracting the building to highlight the volumes, surfaces, patterns, and linear qualities. Hohauser's design at The Colony inspired other resorts, The Tides (1936) and The Victor (1937) hotels, to be built in the Art Deco style. These new hotel towers reached heights of eight stories above Ocean Drive and increased the amount of amenities to the building, including restaurants and hotel lobbies, and creating a large vertical element that would be incorporated into the overall composition of the facade. These new hotel structures now created spaces to help mediate the towers from the street and ocean. Massing was now designed to provide more room for gardens, pools, and terraces on the roof of the towers. The buildings narrowed as the height increased, showcasing the vertical element. Stair towers, marquis, and elevator shafts were now accentuated into pylons that helped establish geometric forms on the facades of the Art Deco buildings.

The prototype for the tower instantly got adapted into smaller hotels as well. The tower structure became a way to monumentalize utilitarian residential structures, hiding the mundane qualities of the building. Similar to monumental architecture; Miami Beach developed an Art Deco style that focused on the monumental sculpture like qualities. In Miami Beach, the tower motif was the most used through designing a central vertical tower that reduces floor area as the tower ascends. Art Deco buildings often used pylons, masts, and turrets to help enforce the tower motif, even used on smaller scale construction. Often this tower motif was the crystallization of the Art Deco building ideology and even adapted in designs of the door frames of the Clevelander Hotel, designed by Albert Anis in 1937. These new towers; including others such as: The Tides, The Victor, Raleigh, Grossinger Beach, and Atlantis hotels, also perpetuated a new way of staying at a resort by including grand lobbies with dining rooms and cocktail bars in each of the hotels. These new lobbies became highly effective entities to resort towers and were the most important part of the social scene of Miami Beach. Heavily influenced from the interior of Radio City Music Hall, the hotel lobbies maintained a sense of theatric qualities that had grand staircases rising to a mezzanine level that would look down into the first floor entry. Often times, lobbies were characterized with wall murals depicting the exotic natures of the Miami Beach landscape. The roofs of the towers would be equipped with Penthouse suites and sun rooms. In smaller lots, developers began making mixed-use buildings that would incorporate, offices, retail, and hotel rooms that had the important social amenities of having a lobby, restaurant, and a pool. This new mixed-use prototype became important and known as an “all-inclusive” resort that would include any necessary amenity for those residing in the tower.

Lighting and color also played a significant impact on the Art Deco buildings of Miami Beach. Pastel colors, such as deep pink, yellow, light green and turquoise, were integral on the facade, with colors being designed to highlight the geometric forms of the building. The colors chosen for the architecture mimicked those that were found in accent colors of the landscapes of Miami Beach, ultimately connecting the architecture to nature. Neon lighting was now used for highlighting architectural elements such as eyebrows and medallions. Recessed planes and pylons on the facades, were now illuminated with accent lighting on hotels such as: the Raleigh Hotel, Essex House, the Palmer House, and the Kent, Senator, and Tudor hotels. Other applications of neon lighting were included in the interiors through light coves and by illuminating glass block. Signage for each hotel was made with threaded stainless steel in aluminum channels that would illuminate at nighttime, creating a glamorous and colorful city of neon lighting.

The theatrical qualities of the Art Deco Style also influenced the design of low-density housing that would also be constructed in Miami Beach. One example can be seen in Samuel H. Gottscho's design for Lincoln Terrace Apartments. The design focused on the humanism and glamorization of an urban lifestyle which was a reoccurring theme in residential designs for Miami Beach. The walls of the exterior were covered in stucco with shadows on the facade coming from the overhanging eyebrows. Stucco became popular for exhibition architecture, due to the economical and ease of use in creating a variety of effects; such as: lightness, color, and texture. Residents of the apartment complex had large single-hinged windows allowing for natural cooling from incoming breezes. The composition of the building also includes the illumination of material qualities of glass block windows and wood screen doors. Historian, Alan T. Schulman suggests that Gottscho's design highlights the importance of visual culture in Miami Beach by, “the pursuit of enchantment and sensory delight were the organizing principles of an extraordinary eclecticism to which the application of style was often little more than a subtext.”

At the end of the 1930's the Art Deco style was evolving towards streamlining. Through streamlining, architects broke down the cube-like forms with curves, inspired by the popularity of industrial designers, Norman Bel Geddes and Raymond Loewy. Streamlining coincides with the Art Deco exploitation of mobilization. The streamlined buildings now visually represented speed integrated with mobilization motifs. In Miami Beach, this was translated into motifs inspired by streamlined trains such as the Silver Meteor and the McDonnell Douglass DC-3 airplane, both of which had helped transport visitors to the city.

Some historians argue that streamlining and Art Deco are two different styles; however, there is a similar continuity between the two styles. The Art Deco movement is often characterized with angular forms that represent mobility and the visual representation of progression. Streamlining took that idea further and began to redesign the style with curves that gave the visual representation of objects in motion. During the Great Depression, streamlining became widely popular by industrial designers who redesigned everyday appliances with these new streamlined forms. Through this phase of the Art Deco, facets of everyday culture were exploited with these new modern forms. Sheldon and Martha Cheney expressed their ideas, of the Art Deco being a result of society and the progression of science, technology, and communication are reoccurring in the Art and the Machine, “Everywhere, through the air, on rails, by land and water, there is the established point-counterpoint rhythm of smooth, gliding, mechanized travel, making its appeal to the sense as power dynamized, dramatized […] As an aesthetic style mark, and a symbol of twentieth century machine-age speed, precision, and efficiency, it has been borrowed from the airplane and made to compel the eye anew, with the same flash-and-gleam beauty re-embodied in all travel and transportation machines intended for fast going.”

Architect, Henry Hohauser, was once again on the leading trend of the new style by designing The New Yorker Hotel (1940) in the new streamlined variant of the Art Deco. The hotel is designed with a large detached tower element that resembles the imagery of an Indian headdress. The corners were accentuated with sweeping curved corners and windows with a semi-circular entry portal. The floor plate of the building recessed back in multiple increments now giving emphases to the horizontality of forms that were now being expressed through streamlining. The new focus on the horizontality was also balanced by the verticality of forms which can be seen in Kiehnel & Elliott's Carlyle Hotel (1939). The Carlyle Hotel included streamlined edges, essentially with no perpendicular surfaces, and a strong emphasis on horizontal eyebrows that ran across the facade. The facade also incorporates racing stripes against a pink stucco exterior. The counterbalance of the composition was designed with three pylons, which mimicked entry ways into the World's Fairs, leading into a lobby adorned with a mauve fireplace and a pink and turquoise terrazzo floor.   

Streamlining also played an important role in residential architecture of the time. The most famous of the streamlined houses in Miami Beach was designed by Robert Law Weed (1935) as the General Electric Model Home, also known as the Eastman Residence. The house is a mix of different materials ranging from new to traditional materials. Typical Art Deco elements of large roof patios, round tubing hand rails, and glass block where included. The house also incorporated many new technologies such as a garage door and a curtain wall that could be converted into a movie screen, ultimately embracing the overall theme of the height of technology through a building.

Once again, the Art Deco in Miami Beach would evolve. This time the style focused on a tropical modernism variant, focused on creating a new American style of architecture that would not mimic the architecture from any other countries. The unique urban and tropical landscapes were the inspiration for this new variation on the Art Deco style, portraying the specific lifestyle of southern Florida, prominent between 1945 to 1960. Typical motifs now represented nautical themes; such as: incorporating pipe railings, portal windows and ship's ladders, symbolic to living at sea. The sun motif was also crucial to the style, bringing to existence the beauty of Miami Beach's natural landscapes and warm climate, often incorporated into bas-relief or door designs. Other Floridian themes explored were those of the Floridian tropical climate, animals, and plantings. Concrete was preferred as the primary building material due to its resistance to decay and to insects. The new tropical modernism style became the city's own vernacular to the already diversified Art Deco movement; exploiting the themes that make Miami Beach exotic. Many of these themes found their ways into modern classical facades. In the Miami Beach Public Library (1937), sculptor Gustav Bohland, designed a frieze that depicted specialties specific to southern Florida: seagulls, palm trees, and modern technologies (ships, airplanes, train, and the radio antenna of Miami Beach's first radio station) that ultimately described the progress of the city.

Art Deco is an important term when describing the architecture of Miami Beach which included the variations of the style, ultimately trying to find a new “modern style”. Historian, Bevis Hillier, proposed that the Art Deco was a “total style” that was able to not only impress the elite, but was able to influence those in other countries, different classes, and different art mediums.  Many successful Art Deco buildings can be found throughout the globe from skyscrapers in Shanghai, to houses in New Zealand. Studying Art Deco as a “total style” also indicates the importance of the style that found its way into popular culture of the time and can be found replicated in the media and through the production of industry. Windover suggests that the spread of the style is in due in part to the lack of rules and manifesto, which made it easy to replicate the Art Deco aesthetic into different building typologies. Specifically in Miami Beach, the Art Deco was able to replace the Mediterranean Revival due to similar visual language based on designing for the picturesque and expressing timeless forms that represented purity and beauty. The Art Deco style also was seen as a threat against the Modern Movement, whose proponents believed that the Art Deco was just a stylized continuation of Beaux-Art philosophy that focused on modern design. However, Art Deco designers designed modern motifs that coincided with the modern world, an offense to writers against ornamentation such as Le Corbusier and Adolf Loos. Art Deco was also perceived to be feminine and weak compared to the heavy industrial production of the modern style and did not receive general acceptance in the art and architecture fields until the height of feminism, which began to inform readers of the study of art and architectural history critiquing masculine pioneers of modern design.  

Windover also suggests that a crucial impact on the Art Deco style came from the consumer culture of fashion that helped propel the ideals on the new modern style. Moreover, French philosopher, Gilles Lipovetsky believed that since society was moving towards a modern democracy, it promoted individualism which ultimately affected the arts. Lipovetsky states, “The autonomy of a society structured by fashion, where rationality functions by way of evanescence and superficiality, where objectivity is instituted as a spectacle, where the dominion of technology is reconciled with play and the realm of politics is reconciled with seduction.” Such ideology was prominent during the period of time between World War I and II. In 1928 Paul Nystrom, marketing professor at Columbia University, stated that fashion is relevant in any social class and has an important effect to human life which ultimately changes the economy and changing art forms to what is generally considered fashionable at that time, creating a “consumer citizen.” One example of the “consumer citizen” comes from the timeframe during World War I, where Americans were asked to be patriotic by purchasing war bonds and buying less goods during this time. This idea of the consumer having an impact on the economy became imperative during the economic crisis of the 1930's, when women were recognized as the primary purchasers of material goods. Consequently, advertisement and marketing focused intently on the women demographic. Art Deco became the medium where many women could purchase glamorous and fashionable designed products, which effected the Modern Movement architects to attempt to redesign and improve the life of working-class woman through their architecture. Specifically in Miami Beach, advertisement became important for the hotels, allowing each hotel to retain an identity that was different from the others on the boulevard.

The notion of reinventing spaces to be performative and stylish begins to approach on the idea of a lifestyle. During the years following World War I, marketing shifted between highlighting the product, to focusing on the benefits of the product, essentially selling a lifestyle that coincides with purchasing that particular product. Windover states, “Lifestyle brings aesthetic together with spatial practices and attitudes. It takes the virtual mobility inherent to desire and situates it in activities of everyday life.” The notion of lifestyle is important to help define the economic, cultural, and political ideas of style and showcasing everyday patterns that then occurred with a certain lifestyle. In the case of the Art Deco style, the aesthetic motifs focused on mobilization of a new modern style that portrayed fluidity in front of a social context structure that gave order to the new spatial forms. Art Deco also provided a sense of optimism that focused on the ideals of previous mobility systems to help showcase how society was progressing. After the aftermath of World War I, Art Deco was used to positively remind society of the good that technology had brought to the world. However, the machine continued to cause anxiety, especially during the Great Depression where mass production was thought to be causing the economic downturn and the record high unemployment rates. As a result, forms became streamlined, appliances and furniture, and became domesticated and not seen as threatening to household consumers.

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