David has a bachelor's degree in architecture, has done research in architecture, arts and design and has worked in the field for several years.
Art Nouveau Furniture
The last years of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century are often remembered with a certain romanticism. The images of luxurious and elaborate interiors are common. Furniture pieces resembling trees and flowers became very popular and the style that emerged became known as Art Nouveau. It was named after a Parisian art gallery, which promoted innovative designs.
Art Nouveau was an artistic style that started in France at the end of the 19th century and developed until the start of World War I. It was seen in Europe and America and was especially popular in France and Belgium. Art Nouveau touched all forms of arts and was very innovative in architecture and industrial design, with creations that broke with traditional ideas coming from decades ago.
The style had some local variations in the different places where it developed, but there were some common characteristics that most pieces of Art Nouveau furniture shared. They were often inspired by nature and had abundant references to trees and flowers. Plenty of curved lines were used for the different elements of the designs. Art Nouveau searched for asymmetry, and although furniture design continued to be mostly symmetrical because of its functional nature, sometimes designers incorporated small asymmetrical details. Fine finishes were common and noble woods like mahogany, walnut, or maple were combined with more exotic ebony or snake-wood, delicately polished and varnished.
Famous Art Nouveau Furniture Designers
Art Nouveau had a relatively short lifespan, but during its years of popularity many designers created furniture and other design pieces that have become a reference of that time. The following are some of the most famous Art Nouveau furniture designers:
Guimard was a French architect, best-known for designing the cast-iron entrances to the Paris Metro. He believed in the integration of all the elements of a building, so he often designed the furniture and all the interior details for his architectural projects. His furniture incorporated curved lines and floral motifs, common of Art Nouveau, and had a subtle search for asymmetry expressed in the incorporation of small details and ornaments that were different on each side of the piece. He often used mahogany and maple with a fine varnished finish. Guimard's designs were complex and difficult to produce, so they were not affordable for the general public.
Majorelle was a French furniture designer and decorator. He came from a family of furniture manufacturers, so he was able to personally produce many of his designs. His furniture pieces had abundant curved lines and he became known for the use of elaborate bronze embellishments made from curved lines and floral motifs. Majorelle often combined alder, walnut, or mahogany with exotic woods like snake-wood, creating interesting combinations of dark and lighter tones. After World War I, the designer shifted his style towards the newer Art Deco.
Gallé was a French designer who is considered one of the most important figures of Art Nouveau because of his exquisite glasswork. He also created many furniture pieces. His designs were often inspired by exotic places like Japan or Africa. The furniture pieces usually incorporated curved lines and plenty of embellishments, which more often were ornaments rather than part of the actual construction. Gallé's work was notorious for the use of wood inlays of different species that depicted trees, birds, and even entire landscapes. He also looked for incorporating asymmetrical elements on many of his designs.
In Spain, Art Nouveau was combined with local influences and became known as Spanish Modernism. Architect Antoni Gaudí was the main promoter of that artistic movement and is famous for his masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia and other singular buildings in the city of Barcelona. As many architects did at the time, he often designed the furniture for his buildings. He also created sculptures and metalwork pieces. Gaudí's furniture designs incorporated the curved lines and floral motifs of Art Nouveau, combined with a more traditional Catalonian look, sturdier and not very ornamented.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Mackintosh was a Scottish architect, artist, and designer. The elaborate shapes from France were not that accepted in England and the designers followed a more sober style. Mackintosh's furniture pieces were rather austere, with almost no ornaments. The designs were created from straight lines with only a few curved details to emphasize geometrical forms, and the wood was often painted in white, black, or other neutral colors. The furniture pieces were meant to be easily produced in mass, so they had to be simple. His chairs became famous for the very long backs with some geometric ornaments.
Other important names also emerged in other parts of Europe and their work was usually more focused on local adaptations than on the elaborate French and Belgian Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau was a style which originated in France at the end of the 19th century that developed until World War I. It was particularly important in architecture. Furniture from this time was usually inspired by nature, used curved lines, searched for asymmetry, and had fine finishes. Art Nouveau had important local variations in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe.
Some important Art Nouveau furniture designers were:
- Hector Guimard: His furniture pieces had complex designs that incorporated curved lines, floral motifs, and a subtle search for asymmetry.
- Louis Majorelle: His pieces had abundant curved lines, often used exotic woods and incorporated bronze embellishments.
- Émile Gallé: His designs also used curved lines and were notorious for the wood inlays that he used to represent natural forms and landscapes.
- Antoni Gaudí: He was a Spanish architect who also created furniture pieces, which combined curved lines with a sturdier look and not many ornaments.
- Charles Rennie Mackintosh: His pieces were austere and created from straight lines, with almost no ornaments.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack