Art Nouveau and Art Deco: Bold Design Styles from the Early 20th Century

There are so many distinctive design styles that you can use to make your project distinctive, whether in print or online. It can be difficult, however, to know exactly what style of design appeals to you personally, so we thought it would be useful to highlight two early 20th Century design styles: Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau was the earlier of the two styles, appearing in the late 19th Century. It followed on from what was known as the Arts & Crafts Movement. Its key focus was the natural world, taking inspiration from plants and nature. The use of these natural elements was taken to a new level with long flowing lines, swirls and tendrils giving the shapes a stylised and interlocking look. Colours used were strong and vibrant, often with gold embellishments.

The characters depicted in Art Nouveau had soft lines, loose clothing, and flowing hair. Popular users of this style included Gustav Klimt and the Scottish artist Charles Mackintosh. This was also the era of Tiffany, who produced lamps and shades with colourful interlocking glass panels and designs.

The Art Nouveau movement lost popularity around 1910, as it began to be replaced by the new and very contrasting Art Deco era.

These days Art Nouveau designs are often used for invitations, greetings cards, gift wrap and many other decorative items. It provides an attractive basis for business design and print, with a soft-edged but boldly coloured style, making it particularly suitable for high-end products and services where luxury is the message to be conveyed.

Art Deco

Art Deco removed the natural influences of curves and embellishments and came from a world of straight lines, symmetry, geometric shapes, chrome, and steel. Shapes and forms were still exaggerated and elongated but used lines and crisp edges. This mirrored the new fashions of the time. The Great Gatsby movie summed up the style perfectly!

The Art Deco movement was all about being modern as the world accelerated. This was the time when futuristic machines like the car and aeroplane were taking over. However, the style also had classical influences such as Ancient Egypt.

By the 1940’s use of Art Deco was in decline for homes and fashion. However, in recent decades, it has made a strong comeback as a graphic design style, with a look that can now be described as timeless. Today many brands and printed projects incorporate elements of Art Deco due to its eye-catching style.

We find Art Deco is a hugely fashionable design style for invitations, programmes, and business events. The fonts are crisp yet decorative and the graphic elements are dramatic yet subtle. Use of Gold or Silver foil printing designs, especially on a dark background, are especially decadent and classically elegant ways to bring your project to life.