A good way to describe Art Nouveau design may be to call it a seductive dance. With its intertwining lines and undulating curves, softly rounded shapes and wave-like forms, Art Nouveau is the opposite of straight lines, flat surfaces, and symmetry. What made the Movement radical—and beautiful—was how it was a loosening of the constrictive shapes and forms that came before it. Art Nouveau was a sharp break from the classical styles that dominated the 19th century, and it modernized design.
Though short-lived—its heyday was 1890-1910—Art Nouveau was a new and somewhat risqué decorative style, inspired by organic elements of nature: climbing vines, flowering tendrils, insects, and peacocks, with a premium placed on structural openings that allow light and air to circulate. Art Nouveau also took inspiration from the flowing styles of the Pre-Raphaelite painters. It is immensely decorative, bold, ornamental, and unlike anything seen before or since, and it never quite goes away entirely. With the allure of its inherently sensual and seductive shapes, perhaps it’s no surprise that Art Nouveau-inspired design is once again making a comeback! Here are some great current examples.
ART NOUVEAU PEACOCK TIFFANY STYLE LAMP
Inspired by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained-glass style, this modern table lamp features hand-cut glass, with a peacock feather and dragonfly motif and a metal base. designtoscano.com
ALPHONSE MUCHA PEONIES SQUARE THROW PILLOW FROM TRADEMARK FINE ART
This beautiful throw pillow, featuring a design of Art Nouveau peonies, will add a touch of fin-de-siècle style to the couch. bedbathandbeyond.com
DEBORAH SHARPE FOR NEUE NOW TABLE LINENS
Featured at the Neue Galerie, a small museum in New York City with one of the premier collections of fin-de-siècle Austrian and Art Nouveau art, this beautiful Italian linen embroidered set with a napkin and placemat is inspired by a 1910 Wiener Werkstätte textile design. shop.neuegalerie.org