If you are a fan of Alphonse Mucha or the many advertisements featuring scantily clad women on bicycles, you may find that Art Nouveau is the place to go for home design inspiration. Art Nouveau emerged in the 1890s as a counter to the heaviness of the Victorian style that abounded before that time. Art Nouveau was a less cluttered, lighter and freer form of expression in housing interiors.
Stained glass became popular as a design concept. An excellent example of this is the Tiffany lamp, a lamp with a stained glass shade. Stained glass’ thicker lines and thinner detail is a common motif in Art Nouveau paintings, where a strong outline is complemented by detail within. While genuine Tiffany lamps are very expensive, there are many companies creating lamps in this style for reasonable prices. Stained glass was popular in other areas, such as window decoration and in mirrors.
Colors are muted, but provide quite a variety of combinations: the sombre greens (sage, olive), mustard yellow and many shades of brown. Pair these colours with various shades of purple and peacock blue.
Browns can be found in the parquet and marquet floors that were in vogue at the time. These were mosaics of wood done in geometric (parquet) or natural shapes (marquet). Walls can be painted in the above colors or papered, preferably with stylized floral motifs that were in vogue. Anything with tendrils will probably integrate easily into the look. Popular motifs are peacocks, pansies, wisteria and any kind of trailing vine. Windows can be hung about with curtains featuring Art Nouveau motifs.
Furniture should be curvy and incorporate some of the stylized nature designs that Art Nouveauis famous for. Look for wood inlaid with designs. There are a lot of opportunities to remake furniture with Art Nouveau motifs and decoration. Consult Art Nouveaubooks and online pictures to find a pattern that you can reproduce on your table, lamp or other accessory. Stylized fireplaces were popular at the time and are still reproduced today with floral motifs and whiplash lines.
Art can be in the form of poster prints. Many commercial posters produced in the era make beautiful and unusual decorations for the walls of your home. A vase or two of peacock feathers and, of course, plants and flowers scattered about the home will bring nature that much closer. Think exotic; Art Nouveau was in the period where people were greatly fascinated by ‘The Orient’ and far-off climes.
Art Nouveau Style:
long, curved, whiplash lines
stylized plants, especially flowers and vines
depictions of women with long, artistically flowing hair
inlaid wood, silver, semi-precious stones, glass
Sometimes it’s more fun to re-create your own interpretation of Art Nouveau than to restrict yourself to decorations that you know are ‘period’. A great Art Nouveau look can be created relatively easily and cheaply if you look for inexpensive replicas and reproductions, as well as using paint and stained glass to “art-nouveau” items. Look for that whiplash line and stylized florals and you’ll be on the right track.
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