The organic contours of Art Nouveau on the outside of buildings were matched by equally compelling interiors. Within a smaller space, patrons could be more daring. Designers had creative freedom to create furnishings which were detailed to the last door handle, chair or teaspoon. In Belgium, Germany and France, the emphasis was on curvilinear forms, with differing approaches to decorative and functional restraint. Wood was twisted into new shapes, with entomological additions, but could also be sleek and functional. Glasgow and Vienna tended to the geometric. In other parts of Europe, nationalistic and vernacular influences were prevalent including Nordic Viking and dragon styles (dragestil). The Paris World’s Fair in 1900 featured interiors by Norwegian Henrik Bull, and chairs by Jan Kastner of Prague.
Fantastical or functional
Henry van de Velde (1863-1957) was a Belgian architect and designer, initially a painter, invited to join Brussels group Les XX. From 1890, inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement, he designed Jugendstil furniture and objects. His interiors were used by key Parisian outlets Maison de L’Art Nouveau (Bing) and La Maison Moderne (Julius Meier-Graefe). A significant period of van de Velde’s working life was spent in Germany. He established the school of arts and crafts in Weimar in 1905, which later became the Bauhaus. In 1907, he helped form the Deutsche Werkbund.
The formal, angular style incorporating Celtic symbols deployed by architect, designer and watercolourist Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) defined the Glasgow school, along with the Macdonald sisters and Herbert McNair. Together, they were known as The Four. Scottish businesswoman Miss Catherine (Kate) Cranston was a loyal patron, with whom Mackintosh collaborated for over 20 years in several projects. She was at the forefront of the tearoom business in Glasgow: an alternative refreshment opportunity in an industrial city notable for its masculine drinking culture. Mackintosh’s work was received sympathetically in Austria, where he exhibited at the Vienna Secession. One of its founders, architect and designer, Josef Hoffman (1870-1956), was known as Quadratl-Hoffmann (little square Hoffmann) for his use of squares and cubes.
Architect Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940) is best known for his furniture, particularly the styles exhibited at Turin in May 1902. The painted and carved pieces that came to be known as dragon or Viking style had internationally known exponents such as Lars Kinsarvik (1846-1925). It was often commissioned by public houses and hotels, and as a means of celebrating Norway’s history and legends, while under Swedish rule. Queen Marie of Romania, grand-daughter of Queen Victoria and confidante of Loïe Fuller, combined her own personal style along with Byzantine and Celtic elements in the interior decoration of an Art Nouveau style castle in Romania with furniture from Bernhard Ludwig.