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Publication Date: 2015-05-05

Design Insights

Design Dictionary: Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture and applied arts, most notably decorative arts, that began in Europe in the 1890s and early twentieth century. Signature characteristics include an ornamental vocabulary based on natural growing forms with motifs influenced by Japan. The style is open, curvilinear, asymmetrical and organic. It's often identified by its whiplash curve—a line that is long and slightly curved ending abruptly in a whip-like sharp curve.


The name comes from Siegfried Bing’s gallery in Paris called Maison de l’Art Nouveau. Some key names include (but are not limited to): Hector Guimard, Victor Horta, Henri Van de Velde, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Charles Rohlfs. Above: Art Nouveau vase and candélabre. Interior by Darren Henault

Line drawing showing whiplash curves

This piece by Katsushika Hokusai is often cited as evidence of a Japanese influence on Art Nouveau. Above: The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, 1823-1829 | Color woodcut | 254 x 381 mm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Furniture by Joan Busquets i Jane – 1874-1949 in the Palacio Güell from 1960.

Art Nouveau architecture in Paris

Click here to read more about Art Nouveau.


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