It’s a style that almost exclusively existed in mainland Europe.
A notable dictator hated the style and demanded that many stunning Art Nouveau buildings be destroyed during and in the lead up to the Second World War, which is a contributing factor for why it’s rare to see much architecture from the era outside large Western European cities like Brussels, Paris and Barcelona. Much Art Nouveau furniture is very large and extremely delicate, with one piece often serving many purposes. It’s not uncommon for them to wrap around one or more corners of the space and include a desk or vanity, mirror, wardrobe or even a chair all together in a single object.
Colours from the era were quite muted and somewhat sombre with sage green, olive green, chartreuse, mustard, brown, lilac, violet, peacock blue and soft black being the most popular hues at the time. Hues like Resene Finch, Resene Black Forest, Resene Green White and Resene Clover – seen here on the walls, side tables and vase respectively – are great choices to use when recreating some of the magic of Art Nouveau now as each of these colours are also trending today. But other relevant hues you could choose to use include Resene Paris White, Resene Tussock, Resene Stringer, Resene Poet, Resene Paua and Resene Captain Cook.
Parisian architect and designer Hector Guimard is behind the famous oxidised metal gates that mark many of the entrances to Paris’ underground train network, which are shaped like calla lilies with slender, curvilinear components that evoke vines and tendrils. These forms grow up and out of the two anchoring stems which hold and illuminate the ‘Métropolitan’ signs above the staircases that descend to the stations below. His work was heavily influenced by Belgian architect and designer Victor Horta, whose designs also feature many curvaceous floral motifs present both in structural elements like railings, stained glass windows and elaborately painted murals. We chose the headboard and table lamp in this space specifically for their strong connections to the work of these notable artists.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh has been credited with pioneering the ‘Scottish school’ or ‘Glasgow school’ movement, which occurred in the same time period. His legendary ‘Mackintosh rose’ motif appears frequently throughout his work, often incorporated into the design of his chairs and stained-glass windows. As a homage, we have painted the same motif on to a small mirror in Resene Nero. Not only does this detail solidify the bedroom’s ties to Art Nouveau, but it also helps to reflect more light around the room.
To ground the space, the timber floor has been stained in Resene Colorwood Mid Greywash, and the bedlinen has been kept simple in unadorned neutral colours. This keeps from distracting from or fighting with the stronger Art Nouveau elements like the headboard, mirror and lamp. The clean, round forms of the side tables play off of the circles present in the headboard and the mirror while fresh ivy housed in a pot painted in Resene Nero gives a gentle nod to the ample vines motifs that were plentiful in the era. When viewed all together, instead of being over-the-top with ornamentation, this minimalist interpretation feels relevant to today’s style of decorating and respects the bedroom as the home sanctuary it deserves to be – the kind of place you want to retreat to at the end of a long day.
To make a bigger style statement, try a wallpaper mural from the Resene Wallpaper Collection. Designs from the Resene Komar Heritage Wallpaper Collection feature colourful and distinctive illustrative elements from Alphonse Mucha, a notable artist who painted during the 1910s and 20s and whose work has become synonymous with Art Nouveau style.
Styling by Laura Lynn Johnston. Photography by Bryce Carleton. 2021
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