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What Distinguishes Arts & Crafts Furniture from Art Nouveau Furniture from Art Deco Furniture from Art Moderne Furniture?

These four styles of furniture transcended one another from the late 19th Century up to the 1940’s and the beginning of World War II. This short 50 year span saw the creation of four distinct and innovative furniture styles - each style blazing a hot new trail only to succumb to be quickly surpassed by the next hot new trend.

During the early to late 1800’s Victorian furniture was the rage - opulence in design was the goal - “More is Better” was the rule. After years of opulence, design trends started to reverse as they often have though out history, and a much simpler design was yearned for. 

Hence, the Arts & Crafts movement sprung to life in England in the 1860’s with the work of designers such as John Ruskin and William Morris. This design movement spread to America and by the turn of the century and became firmly entrenched in strongholds like New York and Chicago - e.g. Stickley Furniture in New York and Tiffany Studios in Chicago.

Out of the English Arts & Crafts movement of the late 1800’s also sprang the Art Nouveau movement and quickly spread to the European continent. Art Nouveau furniture design was more fluid, more flowery and  noted by graceful naturalistic curvilinear lines - a distinct contrast to he rigid linear lines of Arts & Crafts furniture. Some of the most impressive Art Nouveau furniture came out of France - most notably Paris. Emile Galle did some wonderful work - using exotic woods to create flowery inlaid designs and free form shapes to create functional pieces of art. We are lucky to have one piece of Galle’s Art Nouveau furniture in our collection:

Whereas Art Nouveau design exhibited lavish and intricate designs, Art Deco drew its inspiration from the machine age and focused on simplified geometric designs. Art Deco originated in France - first gaining notoriety in the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. Art Deco furniture is distinguished by the use of exotic woods, marble, polished metals, plastics such as Bakelite and Lucite, stainless steel, chrome finishes and furs, animal hide & serpent skins upholstery.

Before long Art Deco was thought to represent the excesses of the Roaring 1920’s and gave way to a simplified modernism that came to be called Art Moderne - taking center stage in the early to mid 1930’s. Unfortunately this innovative wave of new design in furniture was cut short by the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939. But while it lasted, some great design was executed in its streamlined fashion. During this time period a sub style evolved in France and came to be known as “French Art Deco”. A notable French designer Jean Royere created some pieces that epitomized this revolutionary style. While employed by the renowned French furniture maker Gouffe Furniture, Jean Royere created one of the most stunning pieces in our entire collection:

 

 

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