Art Deco or Art Nouveau?
Way back in the early years when my decorating gene was still quite dormant (my fashion gene was too busy running things), if you asked me the difference between art nouveau and art deco I probably would have told you I didn’t know anyone named Art. Then I got my first apartment…and discovered the joy of interior design.
Fast forward a few years and my interest in design turned into a passion. However, identifying these two styles was still confusing to me. It wasn’t until I began studying interior design that I actually learned what each one was all about (we didn’t have google back then, bummer).
So today for anyone that is as confused as I once was regarding the difference between art deco and art nouveau, I hope to make it a little clearer for you.
Art nouveau came first. The term in French means “new art” It began appearing in the early 1880′s and lasted until about the beginning of World War I. Whereas previously art had been divided into fine art (painting and sculpture) and applied art (furniture, pottery and such useful items), this “new art” (art nouveau) encompassed all forms of art and design including architecture, furniture, textiles, pottery, paintings, sculpture, metalwork and even jewelry.
Art nouveau combines geometric shapes with themes from nature like insects, plants, flowers, trees and sometimes mythical fairies. Up until the period of art nouveau, these natural forms were not popular. The design is also often characterized by its organic, fluid, asymmetrical curves.
Art deco emerged after World War I; a time when the world was ready for luxury and extravagance. It was prevalent during the 1920’s and 1930’s, until around the beginning of World War II.
Though art deco utilizes geometric shapes too, they are more linear, streamlined, repetitive and symmetrical. Sunburst and zigzags are two common shapes featured in art deco designs. When including natural forms, they tend to be more graphic and textural like the rough edges of a plant’s leaves or a zebra’s hide. Art deco is also recognized for its use of modern materials like chrome, wood inlays and stainless steel.
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
- Art nouveau is decorative, ornamental, “curvy” and asymmetrical
- Art deco is sleek, streamlined, linear and symmetrical
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
I love visual aides. So, here are some pictures to help illustrate the differences.
Hope this helped you more easily recognize the differences between art nouveau and art deco. They are both amazing styles to work with. Have you worked with either art nouveau or art deco in something you’ve designed or created? If so, do share!!
Cheers to all,
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