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Art Nouveau style: main features, features of the interior and style in general. Practical recommendations and tips for applying in your homes on the Room Planner blog.
The history of the origin of the Art Nouveau style
As the world began to be transformed by industrialization in the latter part of the 19th century, mass production began to intrude into the realm of traditional arts and crafts. Works of art and décor that took skilled craftsmen weeks or even months to create were relegated to the fringe in favor of cheaply manufactured imitations.
While the average layperson may have appreciated the lower prices and wider availability, those with more foresight understood that the shift would slowly strangle talent and workmanship skills. English writer and architect William Morris (1834-1896) voiced especially vehement opposition to what he saw as Victorian capitalism.
His values aligned with traditional values and he was a great advocate for organic forms, particularly stylized floral images. His writings and vision had a considerable impact on the budding Arts and Crafts Movement.
The term Art Nouveau itself was coined in 1884 by Belgian publication L’Art Moderne in reference to the works of artists such as James Ensor (1860-1949) and Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926). Their beautiful and intricate works themselves were powerful ambassadors for the movement.
However, the essence of the movement’s growing popularity in Europe was that people understood the value and dignity in creating even the simplest objects and patterns by hand. Bodies of work that embodied Art Nouveau stood in stark contrast to the cold and impersonal products of mass-produced capitalism.
That remains true today, almost two centuries later.
The main features of the style
Interior Art Nouveau style is synonymous with nature and imagery of animals, particularly birds and some winged insects abound. The presence (and virtually an overabundance) of flora and fauna imagery is a universal indicator of this style of interior design.
Modern Art Nouveau interior design will almost always incorporate stained glass. As you would expect, many of these stained glass designs showcase nature in its wondrous glory. The glass is not limited to windows but can be seen on items like lampshades and cabinet doors.
There are no straight lines in nature and that aspect is reflected in designs Art Nouveau. You can expect to see even objects that are usually angular and shaped by clean lines to be transformed into something much less ordered. For example, search for Art Nouveau interiors images and you will discover creations such as staircase banisters that look like molten candle wax.
Intricate detail is another hallmark of the Art Nouveau interior design style. It is partly why images of butterflies and dragonflies appear so frequently – their patterned and filigree wings respectively are the perfect union of nature and this style of décor. Another popular subject family is flowers because the calyx of petals can be incredibly elaborate and complex.
Prominent in the theme of curves is a particular type known as the whiplash. Characterized by several long, winding, roughly elliptical curves in quick succession, it is applied to a variety of depictions in Art Nouveau.
Vines, roots of trees, bird feather patterns, and random artistic designs all feature the ubiquitous whiplash curve. Images of swans with their graceful necks are another way to incorporate whiplash design into Art Nouveau décor.
Interior features in detail
Art nouveau interior design colors represent their origins, with the brown of wood and the pastel shades of the sky and forest a common occurrence.
One of the overarching characteristics of art nouveau interior design is the use of wood itself. This choice represents a true adherence to the theme of nature and natural materials. You will also find metals used often, particularly the kinds used in the medieval ages such as wrought iron and gilt.
Completely absent, except when camouflaged as a more traditional material are substances such as plastic, fiberglass, aluminum, and stainless steel.
Art Nouveau furniture is heavy and very often made of wood and glass. When glass is a part of the design, it is almost always stained glass showing scenes from the natural world. Curvaceous shapes are the norm, seen in everything from bed headboards to chair wings.
Floors are almost invariably parquet and, unsurprisingly, made of either wood or any of the various stones that personify a return to the simplicity of past ages. Elaborate carpets and rugs with stitching that shows scenes from nature are a pleasant addition.
Few considered stairs to be a feature that could so prominently exude the nature of a décor style before Art Nouveau. That changed at the end of the 19th century when banisters became works of art, often featuring elaborate wrought iron work.
Practical recommendations and advice
Designers and home owners should understand one thing before deciding to apply art nouveau interior design to a room or home: it is virtually impossible to do this well on a budget. The very essence of an original art nouveau interior is the precision and attention to detail, and that can cost considerably more than other styles.
Here are some practical art nouveau interiors ideas that can be done in both high-end and more affordable ways.
Instead of painting a wall in the requisite pastel colors, you can opt to use wallpaper in its place. There are three advantages to this. Firstly, it is much more cost-effective to have a team apply wallpaper to a wall than to paint it. Secondly, the process is considerably faster than painting.
Lastly, you can preview the end result when choosing the wallpaper since the background and the design have already been applied together.
While many Art Nouveau enthusiasts simply leave their ceilings white, a light blue hue reminiscent of the sky can be the perfect way to welcome the aura of the wild into your home. If you want a more striking result, consider adding an Art Nouveau painting to it.
Art Nouveau style in the interior
It can be difficult to find modern accessories that complement the earth-centric soul of Art Nouveau. Instead, look for vintage and antique items that embody a personality closer to it. One wonderful example is the gramophone. Apart from the luscious curves, the restrained sheen of the brass horn and dignified wooden body make it an ideal fit in your Art Nouveau home.
Art Nouveau is fascinating but it can also be an intimidating style for a novice. Want to learn how to adopt its features into a space that you are designing? Download theRoom Planner App and let it do all the hard work for you. Create a fantasy home or redesign your own with just a few taps. Best of all, it’s free – download today!
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