Art Nouveau style refers to the art movement from 1890-1914 where there was a rejection of Victorian styles and of historical imitation in revivals. As seen in Image 1, this style is characterized by the use of:

  • extravagant curvilinear shapes;
  • decorative ornamentation based on organic forms;
  • many decorative elements;
  • elaborated carved wood furniture;
  • elaborated carved mouldings;
  • wallpaper with stylized foliage;
  • salmon coloured textile (area rug);


Image 1

Although I can appreciate the beauty and the woodwork details of the furniture and mouldings in this dining room, I find the overall look too busy. I enjoy the organic motifs and forms of the Art Nouveau but I like when these organic motifs and curves are used in a more restrained way. In fact some contemporary designers use curvilinear and organic forms inspired by Art Nouveau style to create unique spaces that are still understated as we can see in Image 2.

Image Credit: Université de Lorraine –

ART NOUVEAU STYLE – Influencing Today’s Design

Image 2


Some of today’s interior designers, architects, and furniture designers create spaces and furniture inspired by Art Nouveau’s exuberant, organic and curvilinear shapes. Images 2 is from Marsh and Clark Design, an American interior design firm located in San Francisco. They used motifs inspired by Art Nouveau organic forms to design a bathroom (Image 2) in a Decorator Showcase home in 2009. 


Marsh and Clark’s bathroom has many of the Art Nouveau elements, for example, use of curvilinear shapes, nature-inspired forms, asymmetrical ornamentation, and coloured glass window. However, they introduce contemporary elements like the simple and rectilinear-shaped vanity and sink. The bathroom is also painted in a more current colour – light blue. Although the room has Art Nouveau inspired details on its floors, windows, and mirror, the overall feel is modern and fresh.

I really like the airy and light mood of this room. Also, I like how the designers make a 3’x9′ powder room feel spacious. The subtle Art Nouveau details bring the space to life and give it a unique look without overpowering it; they gently guide ours eyes from right to left, and then to center, expanding the space. I find this design so inspiring that I want to use some Art Nouveau elements to decorate my own house.

Image Credit: Marsh and Clark