Off the Rails

Today I am inspired by the boundless creativity that exists at the early stages of a new assignment in school.  Set before me is a blank canvas, 80′ X 41′ of wide open space, with only my imagination to limit me.  Because this is a senior level class, these projects will most likely play a large roll in my portfolio, so they have to communicate a story about me, wordlessly.  I waiver back and forth, should I play it safe and go for a comfy farmhouse theme?  Or jump off the rails and go for broke…an Art Nouveau themed space!

I really am torn here, because this is a large space, and if it is not successful, I have to use something less grand in my portfolio.  Not a cool prospect.  So let me make my case here, and see where we land.

If unfamiliar, Art Nouveau hit mainly in France from around 1890-1910.  It encompassed all of the art forms; decorative arts, architecture, textile design, furniture design, graphic design, you name it. It is not to be confused with Art Deco, which has extremely rigid lines and corners.  No, Art Nouveau is natural.  It has undulation, meaning lines wind and curl.  It’s organic.  And it uses a bunch of metal, which is also extremely cool.

Some of the most famous examples of it’s art are the entrances to the Paris Metro stations.


Check out the way the metal curves and seems to pool at the bottom.  Hector Guimard is the genius behind these installations.

On to the interiors, and you can’t NOT talk about the Hotel Tassel by Victor Horta.

It’s absolutely breathtaking!

But let’s fast forward to today, not a century ago, and see where Art Nouveau is still making it’s mark.  Art Nouveau is intentional.  When you see it, you know it.

Let’s start with a statement entryway:

Then we see it subtly in a dining room.  Check out the windows:

Now into the kitchen.  A touch could be as small as:

Or as bold as:

I feel the need to disclose that this is a cabinet showroom, so with the dark sides and lack of backsplash, it may be hard to like this example.  But the details on the cabinet doors are amazing!

Unfortunately, my space has no staircase, but if it did:

Are you kidding me with the tile work on this one?

And some finishing touches on the ceiling:

But here is the real test.  A fireplace mantel…can we picture it?

It seems straightforward enough…a carved wood mantel. It blends nicely with the wood base behind it.  But is it just too ‘not what we are used to’ to make a successful room in a portfolio?  I think so.  But I guess the much bigger question is, how will this look on AutoCAD?  And do I want to take the time to draw it and not like it?  Blurg, I just don’t know!

Published by Kate Scheck

Interior Design Student

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