History and Origins
Art Nouveau Furniture is a style of furniture which originated in Paris prior to finding its niche in London in the late 1800’s. It is considered the first modern style of the 20th century. It is known for breaking the traditional styles and barriers of design. Much like Picasso, Art Nouveau furniture utilized abstract techniques such as curvy lines and bold color choices. Art Nouveau is defined by the curved lines, bold choices, and use of natural forms. And like Picasso, Art Nouveau boasts certain niches and details that set it apart from other art such as the types of materials used and designs created.
One can distinguish Art Nouveau furniture by characteristics such as material, design, and influence. For instance, many metal pieces designed during the Art Nouveau period were made from wrought iron. Wrought iron was the metal of choice due to the need for flexibility and airiness. These features were needed to create the curvy lines associated with this type of furniture. Many designs from this period include staircases, window bars, headboards, occasional tables, and chairs.
Another feature often associated with this style of furniture is stained glass. Stained glass is melted and crafted into various pieces, such as vases, windows, and other decorative pieces for the home. Other uses for stained glass may be table tops or ornaments. It allows for a hodgepodge of colors and designs that fit beautifully within a space utilizing other pieces of Art Nouveau furniture.
Art Nouveau furniture is often inspired by nature. The late 1800’s and early 1900’s often found nature as an inspiration or art. We can find the use of dragonflies, flowers, plants, grasses used throughout it’s design. The difference between art styles was the representation of nature and how the artist saw the objects. Art Nouveau utilized nature due to the curvature of the objects. For example, birds had the ability of flight, which made them “airy,” a quality that was admired by artists designing Art Nouveau furniture. Flowers were also quite curvy and bright in colors. Finally, many pieces of furniture designed in this style included figures of women with long curly hair, the embodiment of the Art Nouveau style. These figures may have been simple statures strategically placed in homes or designed in wrought iron or stained glass to create an interesting and beautiful work of art.
One of the most influential and well known designers and artists of Art Nouveau furniture was Emile Galle. Galle was born in Nancy, France and was a well-known glass maker, ceramist, and designer. Galle was best known for his lamps and vases made of stained glass during this period. Most of his work included the beauty found in nature, such as birds, butterflies, flowers, and foliage. Some may even say his work showcased a bit of Japanese art, making it quite unique and beautiful. In sticking with the period, he often utilized metallic foils and air bubbles to create his art.
Art Nouveau furniture can still be seen today, typically in homes or rooms meant to resemble the early 1900’s in France. It may also be combined with modern art to create interesting and unique piece of furniture for the home or office. Many of the artists are still popular today and the style is often considered unique and antique. It is quite easy to see this type of design and furniture in the architecture of some of the world’s most famous buildings and even in our own homes and offices.
See the Art Nouveau Dragonfly Table by Galle. It was one of our best sellers at Dian Furniture. People loved the workmanship and finish on this solid mahogany side table.
Tiffany lamps is a popular example of Art Nouveau design.