Innovation- Art Nouveau


History of Architecture and Interior Design from the 19th Century

Chapter 19- Art Nouveau: 1880’s to 1910’s

Art Nouveau is a complex, eclectic international movement that comprises various styles in Europe and North America.  It’s a conscious attempt to create a new style that rejects historicism and adopts a new visual language.  It’s first major force was in architecture, followed later by decorative arts.  Art Nouveau is dynamic, individualist, but short lived.

Concepts:  It has many roots appearances and participants.  Art Nouveau is complex and hosts various artists, architects, and designers.  They create unique individual and innovative expressions that reflect the geography, government, economies, lifestyles, and patterns of behavior within the respected country.  It is highly eclectic and urban.  At the heart of this style is the imagination and creativity of the artists and designers.


  • line-curved or straight
  • energy
  • organic growth
  • naturalistic forms
  • emphasis on decoration
  • asymmetry
  • abstraction
  • whiplash curve
  • color

Motifs:  Nature inspired flowers such as roses, violets, iris, and water lilies, animals, dragonflies, butterflies, snails, and peacocks

Architecture:  It strives to create a modern style free from historicism and academic traditions.  Emphasizing the individuality of the architect, this new architecture incorporates new materials and industrial process.  It also emphasizes structure and function.

Interiors-  Art Nouveau interiors are primarily curvilinear with abstract floral and naturalistic motifs in France, Belgium and Italy.  However, in Germany and Scotland it is strongly geometric with rectangular and square shapes dominating the compositions.  Typically the designer (usually the architect) creates the exterior, interior, furniture, and decorative arts.  This way everything is uniform, in harmony, and relate to each other as a whole.  Nature provides inspiration for color schemes.

Furniture and Decorative Arts-  Most pieces of furniture display great diversity of form shape and concept.  Some designers reject traditional form and methods of construction while others use them as inspiration for their own creations.  The furnishings are related to the architecture and visible structure of the buildings.  Art Nouveau emphasized carving of wood and unique construction methods.




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