Art nouveau, or “modern style”, originated in the late 1800’s and was a precursor to the Art Deco movement. It features curving, often swirling shapes based on naturalistic, organic forms. Common motifs include flowers, leaves, and vines. The style was used in architecture, interior design, jewelry and other forms of decorative arts.
Art nouveau emerged from the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized the handmade over the mass-produced. It was also influenced by Japanese art, which was becoming increasingly popular in Europe at the time.
The style was most popular in France, Belgium, and Spain; however, it could be found throughout Europe and even in the United States. It reached its peak in the early 1900’s before falling out of favor in the 1920’s.
Despite its relatively short lifespan, art nouveau left a lasting impression on the world of design. It was an important stepping stone between the traditional and the modern, and its influence can still be seen in many contemporary designs.