Professional Jeweler Archive: Design Times

November 2000

Professional Insider/Trend Spotting


Design Times

Craftsman has crested and modernism’s looking a bit dated. It might be time for a renewal of Art Nouveau


Just as apparel fashions wax and wane – witness the return of such diametrically different looks as bell-bottoms and 1940s suits – so do overall design fashions. The cozily cocooning late-1980s found comfort in shabby chic furnishings, and the technology-crazed 1990s recharged interest in two design styles – the Arts and Crafts movement and mid-century modernism. As in its original incarnation, the resurgence in Arts & Crafts and Prairie Style influences in bungalow-type architecture and Gustav Stickley-style furnishings was in direct opposition to the advances in industry and technology, while the return of modernism could be seen as an embrace of colder technocratic design.

So, What’s Nouveau?

The next design wave to recycle could well be Art Nouveau. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, have collaborated on an exhibit called “Art Nouveau 1890-1914,” which runs through Jan. 28, at the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition is the largest ever presented on this era and includes 350 paintings, sculptures, graphics, glass, ceramics, textiles, furnishings, architecture and, yes, jewelry.

Crowd-pleasing highlights include an intact Paris Métro entrance designed by architect Hector Guimard, a room designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, René Lalique’s “Dragonfly Woman” corsage ornament and a Louis Comfort Tiffany three-panel folding screen.

Nouveau Riches

Just as the Craftsman and Prairie Style revival spurred interest in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, this exhibit could create a new market for jewelry from and inspired by the Art Nouveau period. Look for nature-inspired designs, especially in pins and brooches. Departures magazine recently featured a necklace and earrings inspired by Art Nouveau design. A renewed interest in the glassware and ceramics of the era could pave the way for more giftware sales of this style.

– by Liz Smutko

The sinuous and sensuous lines of Art Nouveau design show up in lithographs, art glass and jewelry. René Lalique’s “Dragonfly Woman” corsage ornament typifies the period, while the necklace from Kaufmann de Suisse and earrings from H. Stern are modern interpretations of Art Nouveau design.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications