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Art Deco architecture & interiors for filming in London

25th October 2019
art deco film architecture

Art Deco Filming Locations in London

Are you looking for an art deco film shoot location in London to conjure up the elegant, bygone era of the jazz age? Spanning decadent but tastefully minimal interiors to impressive, imposing exteriors, art deco buildings provide fantastic backdrops for filming, whether a TV series or movie.

As a style, Art Deco was known for its use of geometric shapes, often arranged in symmetrical patterns. These shapes had strong and defined outlines with smooth curves and featured striking ornamental decoration. This style became a popular trend in 20th century architectural design. Art Deco buildings were, and still are, dramatic in scale and are highly stylized so it’s still easy to spot them amongst the skylines of our cities and towns. Check out our guide to Art Deco architecture in London.

Back when it first emerged, Art Deco’s bold features evoked a vision of urban modernity and beauty that embodied the flamboyance of the roaring ‘20s. Influenced by the silver screen and the jazz-age, Art Deco-inspired buildings are opulent, elegant and endlessly stylish but also functional.

Thankfully, the Art Deco architectural style has survived into the 21st century with many iconic buildings still existing across the world. This style of architecture is often seen in contemporary  movies too. Films such as Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series borrow heavily from the Art Deco aesthetic; both in terms of the buildings that were featured in them and the way the movies were shot. 

Bloomsbury’s Senate House is a fantastic example of Art Deco-inspired architecture in London. Like many iconic buildings that made their debuts in the 1930s, Senate House is a beautiful reminder of how artistry and functionality can work together to create iconic structures. Their exterior and interior beauty make Art Deco buildings ideal candidates for filming locations too. 

Senate House Art Deco

Art Deco Shoot Locations London

There are many iconic art deco locations in London, with Senate House renowned as a flagship venue for art deco movie shoots.  In case you need any more convincing around the benefits of filming in such beautiful surroundings, read on for our top 5 reasons why Art Deco buildings make incredible filming locations:

Art deco looks

Art Deco buildings look beautiful, inside and out. Sleek and sophisticated, exteriors feature smooth surfaces and often play with angles and curves to create structures that look more like pieces of art than buildings. Influenced by art movements such as Cubism and Art Nouveau, this architecture looks fantastic through a camera lens.

Most Art Deco-inspired buildings also have highly stylised interior decorative features too. Art Deco isn’t just a style of architecture. As an art movement, Art Deco included the design of furniture, glassware, jewellery and art. In some cases, the interiors of Art Deco buildings match that style too. Sweeping staircases, elaborate lighting fixtures and period furniture can all project a sense of drama and elegance to scenes within. 

Period but futuristic

Many believe that the Art Deco look was created to express the modernisation of industry and the rise of machinery in the city. Yet Art Deco was an expression of how artists and architects saw the future; a combination of human artistry blended with the precise geometric shapes that could only be produced using technology and machines. As a result, Art Deco is seen simultaneously as both a vintage and futuristic style.

Movies such as The Dark Knight Rises (partly filmed at Senate House) and Blade Runner 2049 use Art Deco exteriors and interiors to portray dystopian futuristic settings. They are positioned to provide a contrast between the beauty of the past and the ugliness of the future.

This means that Art Deco buildings can be used for period, contemporary and futuristic backdrops. They are fantastically versatile in how they can be used to portray different moments in history, themes and moods.

Prestige

Art Deco buildings are admired and respected the world over as beautiful relics of a past age of opulence and extravagance. Their style seems to be at odds with later examples of architectural movements used for city building with designs that favoured function over form. After WW2, buildings were designed in completely different styles.

Art Deco buildings have a sculpted, graceful look that commands attention and admiration. Due to their characterful façades, Art Deco buildings often become iconic landmarks that are synonymous with a city’s skyline. There are Art Deco maps and walking  tours of London.  

Usually recognisable from the outside, these unique buildings make great shoot locations as they add gravitas and a sense of prominence to a scene. If you are searching for an Art Deco filming location that looks decadent and prestigious, Art Deco will help you to get that ‘jazz age cool’ aesthetic.   

Unique & unusual

Although the Art Deco influence on city building designs is quite recognisable, each example is often unique. A great example of this is Manhattan's Chrysler Building. The Chrysler building appears in so many Hollywood blockbusters making it instantly recognisable the world over despite being incredibly unique. Similarly, Senate House has appeared in several movies that have been filmed in London and will be familiar with movie fans. 

Recent shows at Senate house

Art Deco-inspired buildings are often furnished to match the general style of their exteriors. The use of silver, marble, crystal, ivory, jade and lacquer are all common materials and decorative finishes that can be found inside an Art Deco building. Deco interiors owe their looks to several early 20th century art movements such as Constructivism, Fauvism and Futurism but also use Egyptian and Aztec patterns too.

When combined, all of these influences blend to create unusual and beautifully exotic locations perfect for movie backdrops. 

Versatile Spaces

Although Art Deco buildings are highly stylised inside and out, their grand features and central locations make them perfect when looking for a versatile city location to film. They can be used to portray a multitude of different places. Art Deco buildings have masqueraded as:

●      Town halls

●      Banks

●      Hotels

●      Ballrooms

●      Mansions

●      Courts

●      Restaurant dining rooms

●      Train stations

●      Museums

●      Art galleries

●      Department stores

●      Government buildings

●      Factories

Versatile spaces can be very helpful when shooting different scenes. One location can be dressed to look vastly different. Art Deco buildings can mimic a variety of settings but still retain a sense of drama and simplistic grandeur.  

Art Deco Interiors at Senate House

Senate House has many spaces that can be used for a variety of backdrops. Our spaces include grand halls, intimate meeting rooms, elegant reception areas and secluded gardens. If you are looking for Art Deco interiors in London, Senate House could be the perfect venue for you.  

interior in senate house

Senate House

London’s city centre boasts some of the most impressive and timeless examples of UK Art Deco Architecture. Senate House is a towering example of the extravagant Art Deco movement that graced London’s cityscape in the early 20th century.

Built between 1932 and 1937, Senate House was one of London's first skyscrapers and displays architect Charles Holden's fascination with both Art Deco and Modernist design. Originally opened in 1936, during wartime, Senate House was used by the Ministry of Information, inspiring George Orwell’s description of the Ministry of Truth in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Located in the heart of Bloomsbury, Senate house is very easy to get to and benefits from being close enough to the city centre so that its silhouette adds to the city skyline.

Inside, the venue has a selection of feature pieces including large Art Deco style up-lights, marble-lined hallways and a cascading staircase complete with Deco style wooden and polished black wrought iron decorative handrails. See more pictures here.

Senate House has appeared in a huge range of movies including Nanny Mcphee, Jack Ryan and the Dark Knight Rises.

Filming at Senate House

Senate House is a perfect location for filming in central London. Interior spaces can be stripped of any movable fixtures, creating a blank canvas for you to dress the space in a variety of ways. If you’re looking to hire an art deco venue in London, Senate House could be the one for you,

Vehicle access to the building allows equipment to be moved in and out quickly and easily. Parking is also available close to the venue too. 

We can also provide logistical support for your art deco event with additional staff and catering so that your shoot goes smoothly.

A winning blend of aesthetics and accessibility ensures that Senate House will help you to make a big impression. Get in touch with our University of London Venues’ events team for more information on filming at Senate House. Contact the team on 020 7862 8127 email them at conferences@london.ac.uk or make an online enquiry.

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