Art Nouveau Style: How To Create The Art Nouveau Look

How to Decorate in the Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau was a popular artistic style that emerged in the late 19th century. It was characterized by its use of organic, flowing lines and patterns.

Many famous artists and architects created works in the Art Nouveau style, including Antoni Gaudi, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Alphonse Mucha.

Today, Art Nouveau is still admired for its timeless beauty. Classic examples of the style can be seen in the work of Tiffany & Co., while modern interpretations can be found in the work of designers like Zaha Hadid and Philippe Starck.

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People often get the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles muddled up. I did it myself when I was a student. The first thing to do is understand the patterns, colors, and designs of each era.

This article on Art Nouveau will detail the patterns, motifs, colors, and influences of this era. A concise outline of the Art Nouveau movement will give you some knowledge to help you make informed decisions.

The Art Nouveau movement lasted for about thirty years until 1910.

This was a style where natural forms were used for inspiration and used in an original way. The most popular Art Nouveau motif was peacock feathers.

The hallmark of the style is the curved undulating lines known as whiplash lines, plant-like forms, and highly stylized curvilinear designs. The style is often described as sinuous, rhythmical, and dreamlike.

The Main Features of the Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau's interior design is often characterized by its use of curved lines, floral patterns, and other nature-inspired motifs.

Furniture pieces from this era are often highly stylized, with intricate details and unique shapes. Color schemes tend to be soft and muted, with a focus on natural hues.

This style of design was created as a reaction against the overly ornate designs of the Victorian era. Art Nouveau designers wanted to create a more modern aesthetic that was inspired by nature.

This approach to design led to some truly unique and innovative furniture pieces and interiors.

  • Muted delicate colors
  • Flowing curved lines
  • Natural forms
  • Tiffany lamps
  • Glassware
  • Pewter
  • Silverware
  • Peacock feathers
  • Stained glass panels
  • Furniture with curving lines and rounded forms
  • Upholstery in Art Nouveau themes
  • Smooth plain tiles
  • Stenciled walls and ceilings
  • Ironwork
  • Electric lighting
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Modern Art Nouveau Interior Style

Modern Art Nouveau interior design is all about creating a beautiful, yet functional living space. The style takes its cues from the natural world, with organic shapes and patterns being key features.

Furniture is often rounded or curved, and there is a focus on using natural materials like wood and stone. Lighting is also important in this style, with fixtures often being designed to resemble flowers or other plant life.

While the overall look of a Modern Art Nouveau space may be quite different from what you’re used to, the goal is always to create a warm and inviting environment that feels like home.

Wall graphics and custom stickers cheap can be a remarkable way to infuse a touch of Modern Art Nouveau into your interior decor.

With their versatility and ability to adhere to various surfaces, these stickers serve as an effortless yet impactful means of transforming any space. 

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Art Nouveau Style Wedding Inspiration

When it comes to wedding decorations, couples often want something that is both beautiful and unique. Art Nouveau style weddings offer just that!

This type of wedding decor is inspired by the natural world and features stunning, intricate designs. From the invitations to the centerpieces, every detail of an Art Nouveau wedding is sure to impress.

If you are planning an Art Nouveau style wedding, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, this type of decor is all about the details.

Make sure to choose invitation designs that are both eye-catching and elegant. When it comes to the reception hall, think about incorporating organic elements into your decorations.

Centerpieces made of flowers or branches are a perfect way to add a touch of nature to your big day. And finally, don't forget to add a few personal touches!

An Art Nouveau wedding should be a reflection of your own unique style.

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Art Nouveau Style Motifs and Patterns

  • Floral motifs (often abstracted)
  • Delicate female forms
  • Peacocks
  • Insect wings
  • Bird feathers
  • Shells
  • Vines
  • Flowers, (Poppy, wisteria, water lilies, Japanese lotus….)
  • S curves
  • Whiplash lines

Art Nouveau Colors

The colors were muted and delicate. Natural vegetable dyes were used in wallpaper, chintzes, and other materials. Art Nouveau is considered by many as primary a decorative style.

The influence of Japanese print is also evident in the designs.

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Art Nouveau Style Wallpaper Patterns

  • Stylized long-stemmed poppies and lilies
  • Lancet shaped leaves
  • Slender blooms

Stencils were also used. The Stencil Library is a great resource for Art Nouveau stencil patterns. They have a brilliant range from many historical eras.

In 1904 Cowtan and Sons an English decorating company used flattened white or enameled white paint. This treatment was also used by Charles Rennie MacIntosh who created a number of white rooms.

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Art Nouveau Tile History

Pictorial tiles during the Art Nouveau era were popular in Belgium and France. Illustrations by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha were used as the basis for the designs.

This influence did not appear in England until the 1920s and 1930s. The Art and Craft influence continued in the States. However, the use of plain tiles was also popular.

Victor Horta in his own house in Brussels (now the Horta Museum) used plain white tiles on the walls and the ceiling in a brick-like fashion. Tube lining was used to create motifs on plain tiles.

The technique used is similar to piping icing on a cake. The raised lines of the pattern give the tile a 3D appearance. Kenneth Clark Ceramics has a tube-lining tulip border tile available.

Art Nouveau Tile Features

  • Pastel shades
  • Plain tiles or individual tile designs set among plain tiles
  • Patterned tiles were mainly used in a row at dado height or as a random insert
  • Highly stylized abstracted floral tiles
  • Art Nouveau-style panels were used to create complete interiors in Europe
  • Panels also on facades of buildings
  • In America and England individual floral designs on individual tiles or arranged in small panels up to dado height.

The Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati Ohio, Carter & Co and Poole Pottery in Dorset England, the Yorkshire Tile Company, and Minton Hollins are some of the firms who have produced Art Nouveau tiles.

Art Nouveau Decorative Items

One of the icon items of the Art Nouveau era is the Tiffany lamp created by Louis Tiffany. He studied art and went on to set up the interior decorating firm of Louis Tiffany & Associated Artists in New York.

The firm is still decorated in Victorian styles with Arts and Craft influences. In 1885 the main focus of the business was glass artwork so a new name was created Tiffany Glass Company.

Tiffany designed windows for American churches for example Trinity Church Boston. They also moved into designing art glass for homes, clubs, and other corporations.

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The ‘Four Seasons' glass panels establish an international reputation for Tiffany. His work was displayed in Bing's Art Nouveau shop in Paris.

His work included landscape, floral, and semi-abstract designs. Vases, bowls, and paperweights were designed in iridescent colorful glass called Favrile, Cyprite, Cameo, and Lava.

Tiffany lamps were made from metal bases with glass shades similar to stained glass and leadlight windows. Designs were natural forms, peacock feathers, and insect wings.

Some of the names of Tiffany's work include ‘Trumpet Creeper' lead glass and bronze table lamp and his ‘Peacock' and ‘Cockatoo' glass panels, an electric light with a colored shade called ‘Dragon Fly'

Art Nouveau had an impact on silverware, pewter, painting, sculpture posters, advertising, and ceramics design. When looking for decorative items remember to select items with beautiful flowing lines and curved forms.

Art Nouveau Flooring

Parquetry was often used in the Art Nouveau era. However, Horta used mosaic tiles in swirling S-curved patterns on the floor of his Tassel house. Linoleum was also popular.

The trendy colors in matting in the early 20th century were natural, white, olive, and light brown. The Axminster loom was invented in the USA in 1876.

Brinton in England developed the Gripper version in 1890. These inventions allowed large carpets to be made in unlimited colors. Floral designs became the hallmark of British designers.

Owen Jones' book the ‘Dictionary of Ornament' 1856 and Christopher Dresser's ‘Principles of Design' in 1879 continued to influence design. As did William Morris' designs in particular the acanthus leaves and poppies design.

Unfortunately, Art Nouveau has been a most misunderstood style and is often dismissed as a decorative sideline. Yet the original work of architects Hector Guimard in France and Victor Horta in Belgium is easy to recognize.

Many of Victor Horta's buildings are now on the World Heritage list. In Vienna, Josef Hoffman developed the ‘Vienna Secession' movement influenced yet different from Art Nouveau.

This style was less curvaceous more rectilinear and straight-lined in its forms.

Charles Rennie MacIntosh, in Scotland, Antonia Gaudi in Spain and Louis Sullivan and Tiffany in the US each developed and expressed a form of Art Nouveau. There was a revival of Art Nouveau in the 1960s and exhibitions of the style continue to inspire new generations.

Second-Hand Thrifting

Interior decorating in older styles can be a very eco-friendly way to decorate. Visiting second-hand shops, antique deals, and garage sales, and looking online can be a great way to find your Art Nouveau treasures.

The most important thing is to have a clear idea of what you want, and what you want to spend before you start looking. I recently saw some tiles from this era for sale on eBay at a very reasonable price.

Author: Rosena MacFadzean for


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