These two cultural influences of the earlier part of the 20th century exploded in popularity in Britain within years of each other and are often confused with one another, yet their styles could not be more different. Both movements came out of France and heavily influenced furniture design, glass manufacture, silver and jewellery, and their mark is immediately recognisable. Good examples of these designs can be seen on wooden antique chairs where the slats provide a ready canvas for the cabinet maker to exploit his art.
The Art Nouveau movement pre-empted the Art Deco by ten years, although the styles overlapped. The flowing lines of Art Nouveau created opportunities for artists and artisans alike to indulge themselves in the creation of designs that incorporated snakelike tendrils of leaves and flowers; and the whole took on an organic quality. Art Nouveau fell heavily out of fashion with a turn away from Romanticism towards Modernism after the end of WWI.
Art Deco could not have been more different. Instead of designs being organic, they were based on mathematic geometric shapes which embraced the clean lines of post WWI modernism which looked forward rather than back. Elements of Cubism and Futurism can be seen in the disjointed lines of Art Deco and in its construction of furniture where new materials such as stainless steel and aluminium were being introduced to create this modernist look.
Both styles lasted for around twenty years and had strong influences on all aspects of everyday life from public architecture to domestic interior design.
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