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Archived issues of Design for the Rest of Us are linked on the homepage of my website:  Click here
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Early Modern Movements:  Part II
 Art Nouveau  c. 1880 - c. 1910

Since writing my last issue on Arts & Crafts/Aesthetic Movements, my obsession with Pinterest has deepened. My "pins" have increased exponentially.  Have a look.


Am sure my love of Art Nouveau, the subject of this issue, will take a similar turn. Each of these movements share several themes in common: the seeds of modernism; respect for nature and the handmade; & rejection of mass production, the byproduct of the Industrial Revolution.  Yet, each movement is unique.


I'm drawn to the straightforward nature (dare I say masculine) nature of the Arts & Crafts/Aesthetic movements; I'm drawn to the sensuous, luxurious (dare I say feminine) aspects of Art Nouveau. Tendrils Yin and Yang.  Not a bad place to be...on both sides of the circle.     


Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season & Happy Nouveau Year! 



Art Nouveau  c. 1880 - c. 1910


Like the Arts & Craft Movement, Art Nouveau's intent was to break away from references to previous styles. However there is an essential difference between the two. Arts & Crafts relied on native, common materials, such as this oak chair; Morris Chair Art Nouveau featured exotic, expensive materials, such as enamel and gold as executed by Lalique.  Art Nouveau Lalique


Arts & Crafts was homey; 

Art Nouveau, elegant.


The new style took its name from Siegried Bing's shop Maison de l'Art


Nouveau that opened in 1895 in Paris, a short lived gallery

featuring interesting French designs alongside Japanese furnishings.  Many critics argued that Art Nouveau works were too expensive, featuring style over function, and therefore "not new".  However, its legacy, particularly in the decorative arts remains strong. 


Beginning in France & Belgium the movement uniquely expressed itself in places as diverse as Scotland, Austria & Germany, Spain & the U.S.  Take the Tour on my Pinterest Board!


In France & Belgium the style relied on references to nature in its sensuous, flowing, organic forms.  A distinctive motif included the whiplash curveAlphonse Mucha, best known for his advertising & theater posters, featured feminine subjects emphasizing the movement of the whiplash curve & flowing tendrils (above).  The sense of movement heightened by the advent of the motion picture & the freedom of women's rights are evidenced not only in Mucha's posters but by the fashion of Paul Poiret.    Poiret Exotic Fashion


An alternative style emerged in Glasgow Scotland; its ringleader was Charles Rennie Mackintosh, ("Mack") architect, furniture designer & artist.  A seminal year for modernism,1900, had both its Paris World Exposition & Vienna Exposition. Mack was invited to participate with the more  avant-garde Austrian architects rather than the French.  Perhaps because of his artistic hand & the influence of his wife in the business, his style reconciles both feminine & masculine themes. A signature Mack motif is a stylized pink or purple rose.


The foundation for the Bauhaus (1919) in Germany,considered the true expression of Modernism evolved from the earlier movements, among them the Wiener Werkstatte and Vienna Secession with its motto "art for the times ---art must be free". Like Mack, Josef Hoffman emphasized geometric lines.Gustav Klimt combines both feminine & masculine lines, again resonating  with the work of Mack.
Kiimt detail


In 1900 Barcelona became the capital of Catalan Spain. A revolutionary architect Antoni Gaudi played a major role in the regeneration of Barcelona during this period.  His style was sculptural, undulating, and organic.



In the U.S. architect Louis Sullivan created many lush and intricate decorative elements despite his reputation for the "form follows function" quote often taken out of context. Below is the Carson Pirie Scott department store in Chicago. Louis Comfort Tiffany's glass studio represents the iconic US Art Nouveau decorative arts style.

        Tiffany Glass Studio
Joys to Behold!



Susan J. Slotkis
Profiles - Personalized Interiors
For more information on interior design services,  consultations, and seminars visit  the website 
www.susanslotkis.comUntil the next time...