Art Deco and Art Nouveau: A Quick Look into Patterned Art

Art Deco and Art Nouveau: A Quick Look in Patterned Art


Art Deco and Art Nouveau rose to popularity around the same time (Art Nouveau was at least three decades ahead). Sharing a common characteristic, the use of patterns to create decorations that are colorful and beautiful to look at. Because of the versatility of this art style, both styles dominated the art world through various industries, especially in architecture and fashion.

Art Deco

Art Deco is an early 20th-century decorative aesthetic, characterized by repeating or overlapping elements that result in decorative patterns. It began in France and spread to the rest of the Western world, influencing the motifs of industries from architecture to automotive to fashion.

What made Art Deco become a widely used aesthetic is the emergence of concrete and steel, that allowed for the construction of more durable buildings, thus paving the way for more expressive designs without the fear of upsetting structural integrity.

We’ve seen deco aesthetics used in exteriors of buildings, they can be eye-catching, the structure itself is practically an artwork.

Sample Art

Can we make interesting patterns by just throwing in random shapes?

Below examples of some patterns we’ve created. Which one looks interesting to you?

art deco sample
Art Deco Created Using Simple Shapes
art nouveau sample
Art Deco Created Using Random Squiggles

Geometric Patterns

Art Deco is created with the use of geometric shapes. It utilizes more straight lines to create patterns. It can sit nicely in the background, especially if used on curtains or wallpapers. There can be no specific theme, allowing it to blend in with the rest of the home interior aesthetic. But this depends on the intensity of the colors, pattern quantity, and the subject of the pattern. There is a limit to what can be represented because of the limited use of geometry and lines. Art Nouveau does not have this limitation. As far as themes go, Art Deco centers its subjects on things that are materialistic: Advancements in society, luxury and riches, and innovation.

Art Deco Illustrates Class

Art Deco is synonymous to luxury because of its use of precious materials, include intricate designs that indicate high level of craftsmanship, and you have something that can capture what Art Deco means.

Of course you can’t talk about luxury without gilded accents. Art Deco is notorious for its use of gold and silver, either as the real thing or in printed color. Lamp fixtures that have these elements can accentuate that art deco look.

Moderation of Colors

Art deco emphasizes opulence but that could also be it’s weakness. When we decorate our homes, we need to ensure we don’t go over board with it like any other decorative element. It can be visually overwhelming that it becomes a distraction. We must leave neutral spaces in our homes to give our vision opportunities to rest.

If you are unsure if you should commit immediately to an art deco interior living space, start with vases or your bed sheets, pillows, blankets, and cushions. Beginning this way will allow you to easily adjust as you go, since these are small items you can easily add or remove.

Art Nouveau

This art style began around 1890 then stopped before World War 1. When looking at this style versus Art Deco, the former utilizes shapes that derive from natural things like leaves. So expect a lot of curves here and there. Art Nouveau usually revolves around subjects concerning well-being, dreams, and fictional subjects.

You may not always spot a pattern when looking at artworks in this style. Unless you are informed ahead of time, you can look at a work like Divan Japonis by Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec, and not think it is under the art nouveau style. Because where are the patterns? One of the characteristics that define Art Nouveau is broad sweeping curves. The same can happen with Art Deco, there doesn’t always have to be an obvious pattern.


Art Deco
Started 1890 – 1910
Uses straight lines
Heavily Geometric, uses squares, parallel and angled lines, triangles, etc.
Themes revolve around materialistic subjects like wealth, progress.
Aesthetically more straightforward in presentation.
Art Deco
Started 1910 – 1940
Uses Curves
Geometry used is based on shapes found in nature such as leaves, flowers, trees, people, etc.
Themes revolve around subjects concerning nature and the human condition.
More aesthetically expressive due to its wider reach in terms of primitive components and subjects.

Sibling Art Forms

The late 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed the birth and growth of two art forms that share a common thread but split into two paths to serve varying purposes. Art Nouveau went with what is natural, and Art Deco represented materialistic concepts.

Today, we are seeing a renaissance of these two art forms, made possible due to advancements in material science and the search for more artistic ways to decorate our homes. 3D printers was and still a revolutionary tool that enabled people to 3d print their own 3d models, especially works of art.

It seems like patterned embellishments will never die as there is a cornucopia of combinations we can make, anything from simple to add some spice to everyday items in our homes to something eye-catching, worthy of an audience in an art gallery.