Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Art Nouveau -- and my 100th post!

This is the 100th post to The Steampunk Home, and I spent some time to find something appropriately festive for such an auspicious occasion: Art Nouveau.

You probably know by now that my idea of a steampunk home is not one that is trapped in the Victorian era, but one that embraces the Victorian era but builds into an imaginary future from there. In reality what this means is that I like Art Deco and Art Nouveau, too.

Art Nouveau was a shortlived artistic movement (1890-1914) between the Victorian era and Art Deco. The introduction to Art Nouveau at the National Gallery of Art's feature on the era (a must read) does a good job introducing us to the influences of Art Nouveau: Many artists, designers, and architects were excited by new technologies and lifestyles, while others retreated into the past, embracing the spirit world, fantasy, and myth.

Art Nouveau was in many ways a response to the Industrial Revolution. Some artists welcomed technological progress and embraced the aesthetic possibilities of new materials such as cast iron. Others deplored the shoddiness of mass-produced machine-made goods and aimed to elevate the decorative arts to the level of fine art by applying the highest standards of craftsmanship and design to everyday objects.

I think this line sums up why it has an appeal in steampunk: excited by new technologies and lifestyles, while others retreated into the past, embracing the spirit world, fantasy, and myth. Isn't that basically the appeal of steampunk? A tension with modern technology and a attempt to deal with it through fantasy? Art Nouveau taps into that fantastic aspect of Steampunk I've talked about earlier.

My favorite architect, especially for interiors, is Victor Horta. The stairway above is from the Horta designed Hotel Tassel and the interior below is from his own house. Both from Victor Horta by David Dernie and Alastair Carew-Cox.

Getting the Look

I found three good articles on decorating in an Art Nouveau style:
The Art Nouveau Home (thanks, Doc Sinister!)
BBC Homes page on Art Nouveau
Home Decorating Ideas -- Art Nouveau

Original Art Nouveau Tiles are available from around US$150. You could use one or two as a centerpiece of a bathroom tile project, or framed on a wall.

I find Art Nouveau furniture relatively easy to come by (and suprisingly affordable) at my local auction house, and I suspect any place that brings in containers of antiques from different countries (England seems to be the best) would have similar goods. In my house we have a sideboard and a shelved wardrobe with Art Nouveau styling. A recent auction had these pieces:

Art Nouveau stencils would be an affordable way to add some style to your walls. I'm also currently lusting after this wallpaper dado for underneath a chair rail (available at Cumberland Woodcraft and Design Your Wall).

If you need doo-dads (ahem, accessories) Past Times has some nice reproductions, including these metal pieces.

So I hope you enjoyed the Art Nouveau eye candy. Thanks for sticking with this blog for 100 posts -- and here's to the next 100!

Like this post? You might also enjoy:
Casa Battló
Steampunkish Design Templates
Edison Bar
(Thanks to Doc Sinister for recently suggesting Art Nouveau as a post topic.)


Isolde said...

I have drooled over all of these works many times!
Yay art nouveau!!!


neo said...

I love all the accessories that I see being posted. Can someone give me some ideas for plumbing and electrical work in my home that incorporates the unigue styles, such as cranks and dials and valves for my kitchen sink.


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