Art deco, although its name is derived from the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, can be traced back to the first decade of the 20th century, especially to the sharply defined geometric forms of the Sezessionstil. Sezessionstil was a term applied to the geometric style of art nouveau architecture and applied arts during the last decade of the 19th century. The Art Deco style persisted through 1939 and has had a revival of interest and even imitation in the 1970s and 1980s.
The most accomplished Art Deco designers were French: Louis Majorelle, André Groult, Pierre Chareau, and Jacques Émile Ruhlmann. Their pieces have a streamlined richness that owes as much to superb handcrafting—lustrously finished rare woods with inlays of such exotic materials as ivory in angular, abstract designs—as to their daring geometric shapes. The style was rapidly debased, however, by shoddy mass-produced pieces.