What Is Art Nouveau? Characteristics, Definition, And Design Features

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What Is Art Nouveau?

Let’s start at the beginning. The Art Nouveau design movement is a style of decorative art, starting at about 1890 and spanning up until around 1910.  This turn of the century art is recognised by detailed Art Nouveau characteristics – recognised by natural shapes, curves and a linear approach to it’s shapes and intricate details.

Famous Art Nouveau artists range from Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This was a very popular style that swept across western europe and america. 

This art style was a form of retaliation to the more stoic art of the 19th century.

art nouveau stained glass

art nouveau stained glass

What Does Art Nouveau Mean?

Here I will provide a loose Art Nouveau definition. Originally coined by the french and English; Nouveau meaning ‘new’; it means ‘New Art’. Perhaps fitting for a style that was accompanying and reflecting a time with much cultural and economic change. 

art nouveau chair

art nouveau chair

Art Nouveau Examples: In art; Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’, Mucha’s ‘Princess Hyacinth’ and the works of Gaudi are seminal to Art Nouveau architecture. This style of art is also very popular nowadays, and is often seen in graphic design, posters and prints. 

The art Nouveau typography styles are also very popular and have made a resurgence in recent years (think the Desdemona font if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

In this poster art style; you will often find Art Nouveau borders & Art Nouveau frames. Usually highly decorative sweeping borders, these encapsulate a design and immediately let the consumer know just what it is they are seeing. 

Art Nouveau Design Furniture

The style also spread into the furniture market, and developed as an artform. Art Nouveau furniture history spans the same timeframe as the art and architecture. This was slightly different to the arts and crafts movement of the previous years; as it used more machines than the bespoke, unique arts and crafts period. What is Art Nouveau furniture? This art style utilised the industry of the day and used machinery to copy and create some of its items. 

art nouveau dresser

art nouveau dresser

Famous Art Nouveau furniture designers – Such as Josef Hoffmann and Edward Colonna are great examples of groundbreaking furniture makers of this time. Incorporating exquisite intricate patterns with functionality. 

Check out our range of furniture! We have many inspired items.

Thinking Of Buying Art Nouveau Furniture?

If you are buying original – Antique Art Nouveau furniture for sale can be very expensive these days. Many antique collectors are looking to buy art nouveau furniture chairs and art nouveau rocking chairs that can rack up a high price at auction. 

You may be more interested in art nouveau furniture reproductions to get a more modern version, which would be cheaper and less chance of woodworm and other pests. An Art Nouveau Couch is perfect for a lounge of any size – even if you have a small studio apartment. 

art nouveau piano

art nouveau piano

Art Nouveau beds are also a showstopper. They never fail to impress in a bedroom space. The linear and asymmetrical curves from the carvings adds a beautiful embellishment to a bedroom space. An Art Nouveau bed frame is a must for anyone wanting a luxurious night sleep in an amazingly designed bed. 

You may also want to find other Art Nouveau Bedroom Furniture, there are some amazing examples of wardrobes and bedside tables for you to discover.

If you don’t want to go the whole hog; you could potentially just put some style-appropriate cabinet knobs on a dresser to get the feel of the style, but still have the same feel to your room as before – perhaps think Art Deco cabinet knobs, or some Art Nouveau artwork to brighten up your space. 

Gothic Art Nouveau furniture is a lesser known style but retains all of the principal design features of the regular art style; the Art Nouveau colour palette relies on a lot of contrasts; and has striking differences. There are also softer running colour themes running through the style such as beige and cream.  

You can also find some fantastic art Nouveau living room furniture, and lighting. Tiffany lamps are a great example of Art Nouveau. Often showing animals and insects in the lampshade section of the lamp, and using natural materials to create an industrial look.

art nouveau architecture characteristics

art Nouveau architecture characteristics

Furniture art Nouveau style is quirky, and naturally eye catching. The colour contrasts and highly decorative style of the art makes it a definite talking point for people seeing items for the first time, or 100th! 

As well as human size furniture; you can also get some cute Art Nouveau dollhouse furniture. All made to original specifications and looks so effective. Maybe you could go for a Gothic style, with an art Nouveau door or mirror?…

Art Nouveau mirror antiques are very big at the moment, their natural borders and frames leaning to a mirror design well. You could think about an Art Nouveau overmantle mirror to add a touch of French class into your home. 

Art Nouveau Architecture Characteristics.

An Art Nouveau gate

If you have ever been to Barcelona, you will likely have seen the works of Gaudi, a famed Art Nouveau architect of this art style. It is characterized by curves, colours and natural looking forms. Breaking the mold that has gone before in terms  of traditional architecture. 

Art Nouveau Fashion

Not to be outdone; this style also provided in iconic generation of clothing. Art Nouveau dresses (think the 1920’s flapper girl look), and the classic pixie cut art Nouveau hairstyles. Art finds its way everywhere. The portraiture often featured women, so naturally the women in these images were stylish and influenced the latest trends of the day. You are likely to find necklaces, and detailed art Nouveau jewellery also of this era, if you look in antique shops.

Art Nouveau VS Art Deco

Art Nouveau is generally more decorative and embellished than its counterpart. Working with curved lines and natural shapes; yet still remaining linear. Art Deco on the other hand is more streamlined, and sleek. You may still see linear patterns but they will be a lot more geometric and stylized. The styles both emerged from two large world events. The Art Nouveau time period was at the end of the industrial revolution and Art deco happened after WWI.

art nouveau door

art Nouveau door


Hopefully I have taught you about this very impressive design movement. Maybe when you are thinking of styles of furniture to buy you may think about Art Nouveau. From Fire surrounds, to Art Nouveau finger plates; pretty much no item was left untouched by this design period. We have a lot of examples of this in our store if you would like to take a look!



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