Art Nouveau Furniture & Hardware Choices
Art Nouveau furniture is a style of furniture dating back to Europe from approximately 1878 to 1905 and is usually credited to a group of architects from Vienna. With the industrialization of the times, most furniture was mass-produced and fairly plain. Art Nouveau craftsmen shunned the mass produced furniture of the period and yearned to take decorative arts to the level of fine arts. The furniture was designed to compliment the ornate architecture that was gaining popularity. This style garnered most of its attention when it appeared at the Paris Exposition in 1900, where its unique and bold appearance made people take notice. The sharp but elegant curves were something that people hadn't seen before, other than with the overly heavy style of Queen Anne furniture. While beautiful and popular, it was usually seen in the homes of those who could afford such works of art. The curves of the "curly" furniture and the intricacies of the pieces drove up the cost. Later, in protest of this style, Art Decco would evolve would cubist furniture.
A popular style in Europe, this furniture gets its inspiration from nature or the lines of the female human body. As opposed to the straight line style of Hepplewhite, Art Nouveau sometimes resembled tree trunks or vines, with long curves and complex spirals. Typical motifs of Art Nouveau include flowers, insects, and birds. The insects, birds, and flowers were usually inlaid or carved into the wood. Curls and lines that resembled smoke or seaweed waving in the ocean were either inlaid or built onto the furniture for added texture. It was very common for images of vines climbing the sides of furniture to be featured, as well. Art Nouveau furniture was typically made using walnut or mahogany as the base and a secondary wood, such as oak for the inlays. It was often embellished with wrought iron or stained glass.
Hardware found on Art Nouveau furniture is just as ornate as the furniture itself. Pulls and handles were often bronze with intricate stampings. These stampings were created by using a die made from steel. A punch would be carved into the steel with every detail reversed and must be a few thousandths of an inch smaller than desired to allow for the bronzing. The designs of the hardware matched the wood carving motif and were very naturalistic and three dimensional. These designs had sweeping curves with sharp angles, and was often referred to as "whiplash" since the often resembled the look of a whip as it lashed out. The most popular motif on hardware is seaweed and vines since they are featured on a majority of the furniture from the period. Like the wood carvings, it is also common to see insects, birds, or flowers stamped into the hardware.
Art Nouveau Availability
Today, Art Nouveau pieces are a highly prized commodity for those with the budget to afford them. Fortunately, replacement hardware for these pieces can be found by credible retailers who know exactly what the term "Art Nouveau" entails. At LookInTheAttic & Company - we have an entire line of carefully recrafted Art Nouveau hardware and lighting that can be tailored to your specific needs.