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Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Rennie Mackintosh, William Morris, Arts & Crafts  and more

Picture Credit: “Sarah Bernhardt’s first Art Nouveau poster created by a then struggling Czech artist in Paris Alphonse Maria Mucha – 3” by antefixus21 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Two of the defining art movements of the 20th century are Art Deco and Art Nouveau. The difference between them is confusing, yet they influence all elements of visual culture – from fine art and design to architecture and graphic arts.

The two movements mark entirely different directions in the development of modern art. However, both styles are unified in their reflection of the times in which they appeared and the span of their influence:

  • Art Nouveau is the more organic style and celebrates elegant curves and long lines.
  • Art Deco consists of sharp angles and geometrical shapes and tends to be more polished.

What largely sets these two design movements apart is really down to aesthetics. The organic and flowing forms that define Art Nouveau were a clear response to the artist’s desire to break free from rigid classical and hierarchical structures, whereas the bolder and streamlined designs of Art Deco reflected the glamour of the industrial revolution.

Despite having very different characteristics, the two decorative styles are often confused. Both Art Nouveau (1880-1914) and Art Deco (1920-1940) adopted modernist elements and emerged as reactions to major world events – namely, the Industrial Revolution and World War I, respectively. They are easy to distinguish if you know what to look for[1].

Gallerease, the online art platform, writes pellucidly about the difference between Art Deco and Art Nouveau[2]:

‘[the difference is often confusing.] Whereas most people are vaguely familiar with the historical and stylistic developments of Art Nouveau and Art Deco in paintings and sculptures, ‘design movements’ in general receive much less attention… For many centuries, art academies dominated the general concept of art all over Western Europe. Hierarchically speaking, painting and sculpture were therefore regarded as the “highest” forms of art, whereas design and the decorative arts were seen as “lower” forms, causing a widespread gap between the fine and applied arts…as a rule of thumb, Art Nouveau is the more organic style whilst Art Deco tends to be more polished. However, they were established in different époques with different motives.’

Art Nouveau and Art Deco are two of the defining art movements of the 20th century, influencing all elements of visual culture, from fine art and design to architecture and graphic arts[3]:

  • Art Nouveau celebrates elegant curves and long lines: Art Nouveau first came in the latter half of the 19th century. Art Nouveau (or ‘new art’) is often considered the first modern art style, leading the way for avant-garde art movements that followed. It was born out of a desire to unify all art and do away with the boundaries that existed to separate fine art and decorative art, taking inspiration from the present and the promise of the future rather than the past and signified a new style for the new century.
  • Art Deco consists of sharp angles and geometrical shapes: After 30 years of Art Nouveau’s reign, its allure began to fade as other artistic movements arose. By 1920, Art Deco had emerged, stemming from the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925. The movement took its name from this large art and design exhibition, although it wasn’t given the name ‘Art Deco’ until the 1960s. Sleek, streamlined and symmetrical, Art Deco art is decorative in its attention to balance. With an emphasis on vertical lines, zigzagged patterns and rectilinear shapes, so much of Art Deco’s appearance was inspired by developments in technology.

How did these Art movements end?

Before we move to an in-depth look at the two main art forms covered in this paper, it is useful to note how they came to an end – described as follows by the Art Noveau Club[4]:

“Art Nouveau was above all an affair of the great enlightened bourgeoisie, of industrial patrons of the arts and culture with aspirations of aesthetic elitism. With a few exceptions, it faded quickly after the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, so it was rather ephemeral.”

“Art Deco influenced the cinema of Fritz Lang and then was quickly adopted by the Hollywood of the 20s, 30s and 40s as a characteristic style that evoked luxury and splendour. That was possibly another key to its success and its ability to endure. That is why, despite languishing somewhat with the stock market crash of 1929, it took a long time to disappear completely, surviving even after World War II. Postmodernism suited it particularly well and brought it back to the forefront at different times since the late 1960s, with a particularly notable upturn in the neo-deco eighties.”

Art Nouveau (1880-1914)

It’s hard to say exactly when Art Nouveau was established because there were several similar art movements taking place throughout Europe at the time, but probably in the late 19th century (around 1880). Art Nouveau designs were applied to a wide range of disciplines, from graphic arts to furniture, interior decoration, architecture and the fine arts. Just before World War I in 1914, Art Nouveau had started to decline, making way for a more modern form: Art Deco.  The description “Art Nouveau” is said to have stemmed from the name of the Parisian art gallery, called “La Maison de l’Art Nouveau”, owned by the avant-garde art-collector Siegfried Bing (1838-1905)[5].

The Characteristics of Art Nouveau in detail

  • Uses elegant curves, arches and long lines.
  • More organic style than Art Deco.
  • Inspired by organic and geometric forms.
  • Has elegant and flowing designs with a distinct emphasis on contours, filled in with muted tones.
  • Asymmetrical shapes.
  • Curved glass.
  • Mosaics.
  • Stained glass.
  • Japanese motifs.
  • Typical decorative elements include leaf and tendril motifs, intertwined organic forms, mostly curvaceous in shape.
  • Different terms were used to describe this decorative style; in the US, it was called the Tiffany Style. In the UK, it was called the Glasgow Style.

Art Nouveau sought a new graphic design language, as far away as possible from the historical and classical models employed by the art academies. Today, Art Nouveau is seen to have paved the way for the modernistic art and design styles of the 20th century, and many monuments of its style are also listed as UNESCO World Heritage.

Art Nouveau is known in different languages by different names: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme català in Catalan, in Austria as Secessionsstil in Hungarian Szecesszió, in Norwegian Jugendstil, in Polish Secesja, in Slovak Secesia and in Swedish Jugend. In English, it is also known as the Modern Style.[6]

In England, the style’s immediate precursors were the Aestheticism of the illustrator Aubrey Beardsley, who depended heavily on the expressive quality of organic line, and the Arts and Crafts movement of William Morris, who established the importance of a vital style in the applied arts. On the European continent, Art Nouveau was influenced by experiments with expressive lines by Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The movement was also partly inspired by a vogue for the linear patterns of Japanese prints (known as ukiyo-e).[7]


The first Art Nouveau houses and interior decoration appeared in Brussels in the 1890s, in the architecture and interior design of houses designed by Paul Hankar, Henry van de Velde, and especially Victor Horta, whose Hôtel Tassel was completed in 1893.[9]  It moved quickly to Paris, where it was adapted by Hector Guimard, who saw Horta’s work in Brussels and applied the style for the entrances of the new Paris Métro. It peaked at the 1900 Paris International Exposition, which introduced the Art Nouveau work of artists such as Louis Tiffany. It appeared in graphic arts in the posters of Alphonse Mucha and the glassware of René Lalique and Émile Gallé.

It spread to the rest of Europe from Belgium and France, taking on different names and characteristics in each country.  It often appeared not only in capitals, but also in rapidly growing cities that wanted to establish artistic identities (Turin and Palermo in Italy; Glasgow in Scotland; Munich and Darmstadt in Germany), as well as in centres of independence movements, Helsinki in Finland, then part of the Russian Empire; and Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain).

An interesting Timeline of Art Nouveau shows notable works and events of Art Nouveau (an international style of art, architecture and applied art) as well as of local movements included in it, is available online[10].

Another defining quality of Art Nouveau is its omnipresence across everything conceivable that you might call design. It includes not only interior and graphic design but also something as seemingly unrelated as metalwork[11].

This design style originated in Britain with William Morris’ floral designs and the Arts and Crafts movement his pupils founded. Morris was a textile designer, and his ideas on design and art, in turn, influenced the later Arts and Crafts aesthetic, which featured traditional and simple forms that touched on the medieval, romantic, and folkish. One of the earliest works of this style was the 1859 Red House of Morris. In particular, the architectural historian and theorist Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and his seminal book Entretiens sur l’architecture shaped a new generation of prominent designers and architects.[12]

Art Deco (1920-1939/1940)

After thirty years of Art Nouveau’s reign, its attraction began to wane as other artistic movements arose. By 1920, Art Deco – short for Arts Décoratifs – (also called style moderne) emerged, stemming from the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925, although it wasn’t called ‘Art Deco’ until later in the 1960s. It marked a change, but Art Deco still retained some of the key elements of the Art Nouveau movement. Art Deco combined creative dexterity with a celebration of technological progress. It was also influenced by Egyptian, Aztec and Central American art that was being discovered by the western world throughout the 20th century.

With an emphasis on vertical lines, zigzagged patterns and rectilinear shapes, Art Deco is decorative in its attention to balance and its appearance was inspired by developments in technology. Art Deco designs are symmetrical and streamlined and made machine-made objects more aesthetically appealing (New York’s Chrysler Building is an Art Deco icon). Curved forms, corners and bold colours are also very typical, as is the use of bakelite, chrome, and transport motifs. Art Deco was also highly influenced by the contemporary artists of that period, especially by the abstract shapes and forms of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Glass enjoyed an important status throughout the Art Deco era, it became a staple of the luxury industry. For example, René Lalique’s work is especially symbolic of this period.

The Characteristics of Art Deco

  • Heavy geometric influences.
  • Triangular shapes.
  • Zigzags.
  • Trapezoidal shapes.
  • Straight and smooth lines with an emphasis on vertical lines.
  • Loud, vibrant, and even ‘kitschy’ colours (which might otherwise be seen to be in poor taste because of an excessive garishness or sentimentality).
  • Streamlined and sleek forms.
  • Sunburst or sunrise motifs.


Among the formative influences on Art Deco were Art Nouveau, the Bauhaus, Cubism, and Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Decorative ideas came from American Indian, Egyptian, and early classical sources as well as from nature. Characteristic motifs included nude female figures, animals, foliage, and sun rays, all in conventionalised forms[13]. Its chief difference from art nouveau is the influence of cubism which gives art deco design generally a more fragmented, geometric character[14].

The emergence of Art Deco was closely connected with the rise in status of decorative artists, who were regarded as artisans until late in the 19th century. The term arts décoratifs (invented in 1875) gave the designers of furniture, textiles, and other decorative items official status. The Société des artistes décorateurs (Society of Decorative Artists), or SAD, was founded in 1901, and decorative artists were given the same authorship rights as painters and sculptors.

A similar movement developed in Italy. The first international exhibition devoted entirely to the decorative arts, the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa Moderna, was held in Turin, Italy, in 1902. Several new magazines devoted to decorative arts were founded in Paris, including Arts et décoration and L’Art décoratif moderne. Decorative arts sections were introduced into the annual salons of the Sociéte des artistes français and later in the Salon d’Automne.

French nationalism also contributed to the resurgence of decorative arts, as French designers felt challenged by the increasing exports of less expensive German furnishings.  In 1911, SAD proposed that a major new international exposition of decorative arts should take place the following year. No copies of old styles were to be permitted – only modern works. In the event, the exposition was postponed until 1914. Then, because of the First World War, it was delayed until 1925, when it gave its name to the whole family of styles known as “Déco”.[15]  Parisian department stores and fashion designers also played an important part in the rise of Art Deco.  

Prominent businesses such as silverware firm Christofle, glass designer René Lalique, and the jewellers Louis Cartier and Boucheron began designing products in more modern styles.[16] From 1900, department stores recruited decorative artists to work in their design studios. The decoration of the 1912 Salon d’Automne was entrusted to the department store Printemps,[17] and that year it created its own workshop, Primavera.[18] By 1920, Primavera employed more than 300 artists whose styles ranged from updated versions of Louis XIV, Louis XVI, and especially Louis Philippe furniture made by Louis Süe and the Primavera workshop to more modern forms from the workshop of the Au Louvre department store. Other designers, including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Paul Follot, refused to use mass production, insisting that each piece be made individually. The early Art Deco style featured luxurious and exotic materials such as ebony, ivory and silk, very bright colours and stylized motifs, particularly baskets and bouquets of flowers of all colours, giving a modernist look.[19]

New materials and technologies, especially reinforced concrete, were key to the development and appearance of Art Deco. The first concrete house was built in 1853 in the Paris suburbs by François Coignet. In 1877 Joseph Monier introduced the idea of strengthening the concrete with a mesh of iron rods in a grill pattern. In 1893 Auguste Perret built the first concrete garage in Paris, then an apartment building, house, then, in 1913, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. One critic denounced the theatre as the “Zeppelin of Avenue Montaigne”, an alleged Germanic influence copied from the Vienna Secession. After that, most Art Deco buildings were made of reinforced concrete, which gave greater freedom of form and less need for reinforcing pillars and columns.

Perret was also a pioneer in covering concrete with ceramic tiles, both for protection and decoration. The architect Le Corbusier first learned the uses of reinforced concrete while working as a draftsman in Perret’s studio.[20]

Other new technologies that were important to Art Deco were new methods in producing plate glass, which was less expensive and allowed much larger and stronger windows, and for mass-producing aluminium, which was used for building and window frames and later, by Corbusier, Warren McArthur, and others, for lightweight furniture.


In 1931, New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake devastated the city of Napier, but within two years, it was largely rebuilt. The devastation presented a unique opportunity: the wholesale replacement of the city centre. It seemed an impossible task to rebuild the city amid the Great Depression, but through artistry and enterprise, Napier became home to the highest concentration of art deco buildings in the world. I visited Napier in 2010 – well worth a visit.

Art Moderne

Art Moderne, also known as ‘Streamline Moderne’, is an architectural style developed from 1930s Art Deco. It was seen as a response to the era’s Great Depression, designing buildings to be more streamlined and austere as opposed to the ambitious and opulent forms of Art Deco[21]. Art Moderne buildings were[22]:

  • were typically designed in low, horizontal shapes as opposed to Art Deco’s tendency towards tall and vertical buildings;
  • were white, whereas Art Deco buildings embraced colour;
  • replaced the sharp angles of Art Deco with simple, aerodynamic curves, and
  • replaced exotic timbers and stone with stucco, cement and glass.

In stylistic terms, Streamline Moderne represents the last phase of Art Deco.

As a result of the design characteristics listed above, some of the most
familiar elements of the Art Moderne style include[23]:

  • Flat roofs without eaves
  • Low, horizontal and asymmetrical
  • Rounded corners
  • Smooth, white walls
  • Steel balustrades.
  • Wraparound, porthole and glass block windows

Examples of buildings in the Art Moderne style include:

Art Moderne strips out the splendour and precious materials of Art Deco and focuses more on technology, replacing gold and rare woods with steel, aluminium, chrome, and astonishing new plastics like bakelite. Art Deco’s organic curves and repeating geometric forms (which only a decade earlier were a radical response to the twiddly whiplash swirls of Art Nouveau) are replaced in favour of streamlined swooshes, bullets, and teardrops.[24]

There’s an old saying: “Deco is chic, Moderne is sleek” – Moderne is all about movement, streamlined silhouettes, and chrome. Often, everyday, mundane objects like radios, fridges and toasters get the ‘hot rod’ design treatment. The US led the way in the mass production of new technology, particularly planes, ships, and automobiles, and Art Moderne celebrated this progress.[25]

In Britain, seaside towns, particularly, are packed with 1930s Moderne buildings but often confuse people and get called Art Deco.

Although the austerity of World War II mostly extinguished Art Moderne, post-war styles like Mid-Century Modern owe a debt to Moderne – in the form of the streamlined, chrome-plated surfaces of the iconic 1950s American integrated kitchen or the curves, grilles and vanes of a 1950s Vespa.[26]

Art Moderne is an influential design style that thrived during the 1930s and 1940s. There is overlap between Art Moderne and Art Deco, so much so that people often confuse the former for the latter or use the two terms interchangeably.[27]

The Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known as the Bauhaus (German for ‘building house’), was a German art school operational from 1919 to 1933 that combined crafts and the fine arts. The school became famous for its approach to design, which attempted to unify the principles of mass production with individual artistic vision and strove to combine
aesthetics with everyday function.[28] The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in modern design, modernist architecture and art, design, and architectural education.[29] The Bauhaus movement had a profound influence on subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.[30] 

Arts & Crafts

Although the origins of Art Nouveau are unclear, most art historians agree that its roots lay in the English Arts & Craft movement, championed by designer William Morris, architect Augustus Pugin, and writer John Ruskin.

The birth of the Arts and Craft movement in Britain in the late 19th century marked the beginning of a change in the value that society placed on how things were made. This was a reaction to not only the damaging effects of industrialisation – some real, some imagined – but also the relatively low status of the decorative arts. Arts and Crafts reformed the design and manufacture of everything from buildings to jewellery.

The Arts and Craft movement comprised several artistic societies, such as the Exhibition Society, the Arts Workers Guild (set up in 1884), and other craftspeople in small workshops and large manufacturing companies. Many of the people who became involved in the Movement were influenced by the work of the designer William Morris, who by the 1880s had become an internationally renowned and commercially successful designer and manufacturer.[31]

The Arts and Craft movement was an international trend in the
decorative and fine arts that developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles and subsequently spread across the British Empire and to the rest of Europe and America, where it flourished between about 1880 and 1920 and is the root of the Modern Style, the British expression of which was later called the Art Nouveau movement, which it strongly influenced. In Scotland, it is associated with key figures such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The Guardian (29th March 2016) ran an interesting article[32] about 10 of the best European cities for art nouveau. One of the cities mentioned is Glasgow, and the article says this about Charles Rennie Mackintosh:

‘With less whiplash, less decorative ornamentation, less feathery flamboyance and naturalistic carving, Glasgow offers a different form of art nouveau. Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s designs are celebrated for their elegance, geometry and angularity, and with his wife Margaret Macdonald, her sister Frances and Herbert MacNair, together known as ‘The Four’, were commissioned to design the architecture and interior furnishings of a handful of buildings in and around Glasgow. At that time, the city was a thriving yet grubby shipbuilding port, so the moneyed class would have welcomed the temperance of the Willow Tearooms in Sauchiehall Street. Mackintosh and Macdonald turned Glasgow’s tearooms into salons of taste using a refined, linear style, touches of Japonism, purples, creams and leaded-glass decoration. Other art nouveau buildings include Scotland Street School and the Glasgow School of Art.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 –1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, watercolourist and artist. His artistic approach had much in common with European Symbolism. His work, alongside that of his wife Margaret Macdonald, was influential on European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism and praised by great modernists such as Josef Hoffmann.

Mackintosh was born in Glasgow and died in London. He was among the most important figures of Modern Style (British Art Nouveau style)[33]. For unknown reasons (as his father did before him), around 1893, he changed the spelling of his name from ‘McIntosh’ to ‘Mackintosh’[34].

He entered the architectural profession in 1884 as an apprentice to John Hutchinson in Glasgow. In the evenings, he studied at Glasgow School of Art, where he became a prize-winning student. His early design work as a draughtsman and lead designer can be seen from 1893 in the interior of Craigie Hall, Dumbreck, and in the new saloon and gallery of Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, where he signed his drawings[35].

From childhood, Mackintosh suffered from disabilities that would remain with him throughout his life. He walked with a limp and developed a problem with his right eye, which caused it to droop. Despite these hindrances, Mackintosh’s unique, innovative style would change the art world forever. He was not only a gifted architect but also a creative and accomplished artist, and his beautiful simple designs are loved by many all over the world. By the end of the 19th century, Glasgow School of Art was one of the leading art academies in Europe.

After early success in the fine arts, the late 1890s saw Glasgow’s reputation in architecture and the decorative arts reach an all-time high. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was a talented young architect and designer, and his reputation was quickly spread beyond Glasgow and is still regarded as the father of the Glasgow Style[36].

In Europe, the originality of Mackintosh’s style was appreciated rapidly, and in Germany and Austria, he deservedly received the acclaim and recognition for his designs that he was never truly to gain at home[37].

Mackintosh’s chief architectural project was the Glasgow School of Art (1896–1909), considered the first original example of Art Nouveau architecture in Great Britain[38].

William Morris[39]

William Morris (1834 –1896) was a British textile designer, poet, artist,[40] novelist, architectural conservationist, printer, translator and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Craft Movement. He was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and production methods. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he helped win acceptance of socialism in fin de siècle[41] Great Britain. He dramatically changed the fashions and ideologies of the era.

A while after moving to Bloomsbury, central London, in 1861, Morris founded the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others, which became highly fashionable and much in demand. The firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows. In 1875, he assumed total control of the company, renamed Morris & Co.

In 1877, Morris founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to campaign against the damage caused by architectural restoration. He embraced Marxism, was influenced by anarchism in the 1880s and became a committed revolutionary socialist activist. He founded the Socialist League in 1884 after an involvement in the Social Democratic Federation (SDF), but he broke with that organisation in 1890. In 1891, he founded the Kelmscott Press to publish limited-edition, illuminated-style print books, a cause to which he devoted his final years.

Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain. He was best known in his lifetime as a poet, although he posthumously became better known for his designs. The William Morris Society, founded in 1955, is devoted to his legacy, while multiple biographies and studies of his work have been published. Many of the buildings associated with his life are open to visitors, much of his work can be found in art galleries and museums, and his designs are still in production.

The Victoria & Albert Museum have this[42] to say about William Morris:

‘William Morris is best known as the 19th century’s most celebrated designer, but he was also a driven polymath who spent much of his life fighting the consensus. A key figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement, Morris championed a principle of handmade production that didn’t chime with the Victorian era’s focus on industrial ‘progress’.

‘Morris only became actively involved with the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society a number of years after it was set up (between 1891 and his death in 1896), but his ideas were hugely influential to the generation of decorative artists whose work it helped publicise. Morris believed passionately in the importance of creating beautiful, well-made objects that could be used in everyday life and that were produced in a way that allowed their makers to remain connected both with their product and with other people. Looking to the past, particularly the medieval period, for simpler and better models for both living and production, Morris argued for the return to a system of manufacture based on small-scale workshops.’

Examples of William Morris designs

Morris’ design: Snakeshead printed textile (1876).
Attribution: William Morris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
Page URL:
Morris’ design: “Peacock and Dragon” woven wool furnishing fabric (1878). Attribution: William Morris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Page URL: Morris’ design: Detail of Woodpecker tapestry, 1885. Attribution: William Morris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Page URL:
Picture Credit: “Red House Door stained glass” by ahisgett is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Hercule Poirot and Art Deco

Hercule Poirot is the fictional Belgian detective created by prolific crime author Agatha Christie. Poirot is one of Christie’s most famous and long-running characters, appearing in 33 novels, two plays (Black Coffee and Alibi), and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975.

Various actors have portrayed Poirot on radio, in film and on television, including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Alfred Molina, Orson Welles, David Suchet, Kenneth Branagh, and John Malkovich.

From 8th January 1989 to 13th November 2013, David Suchet starred as the eponymous detective in all episodes of the 13 series on television.

In The Mystery of the Blue Train, the detective claimed:

‘My name is Hercule Poirot, and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.’[43]

As surely you must know, Hercule Poirot is the world-renowned Belgian private detective, unsurpassed in his intelligence and understanding of the criminal mind, respected and admired by police forces and heads of state across the world. He is small (a diminutive 5’4”), instantly recognised by his moustache and impeccable dress sense and grooming, and takes the utmost pride in his appearance.[44] Of course, coming from Belgium, he speaks English with a strange French accent. You have to respect the man: after all, he is the super sleuth with a sharp mind and a peculiar manner who doggedly deduces the truth behind the crimes he investigates. It’s easy to forgive his precision, vanity and fastidiousness.

Another endearing quality the detective portrays is his love of Art Deco.

Art Deco at Grand Lodge, Freemasons’ Hall, London

Freemasons’ Hall in London is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England, as well as being a meeting place for many Masonic Lodges in the London area. It is located in Great Queen Street between Holborn and Covent Garden and has been a Masonic meeting place since 1775. Parts of the building are open to the public daily, and its preserved classic Art Deco style, together with its regular use as a film and television location, have made it a ‘must visit’ tourist destination. The current building, the third on this site, was built between 1927 and 1933 in the Art Deco style to the designs of architects Henry Victor Ashley and F. Winton Newman as a memorial to the 3,225 Freemasons who died on active service in World War I. It is an imposing building and covers two and a quarter acres.

Art and Frank Lloyd Wright

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy website introduces the great architect in this way:

‘Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) has been called “simply the greatest artist [America] has ever produced in any field of the visual or musical arts.” Born just two years after the end of the American Civil War, he was witness to the extraordinary changes that swept the world from the 19th century horse and carriage to the 20th century rocket ship. During a career that spanned seven decades, he took full advantage of the opportunities presented by the unprecedented scientific and technological advances of his time without losing the 19th  century spiritual and romantic values with which he had grown up.’ [46]

Early life and the start of his career

Frank Lloyd Wright (born Frank Lincoln Wright in 1867, died in 1959) was an American architect, designer, writer, and educator. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1885 as a special student, but as architectural instruction was unavailable, he took engineering courses. He left Madison early in 1887 for Chicago, where he found employment with J.L. Silsbee, doing architectural detailing. Silsbee inspired Wright to achieve a mastery of ductile line and telling accent. In time, Wright found (what he regarded as) more rewarding work in the important architectural firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. 

A creative career spanning 70 years

In a creative career spanning 70 years, Wright designed more than 1,000 structures – designing in harmony with humanity and the environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.[47] This philosophy was exemplified in Fallingwater (1935), which has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture”. Wright played a key role in the architectural movements of the twentieth century, influencing architects worldwide through his works.  From the carport to the L-shaped workstation, Wright pioneered enduring conventions in a career that followed few traditions.

Fallingwater was the house built partly over a waterfall in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, located in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. The house was designed as a weekend home for the owner of Kaufmann’s Department Store.

The Prairie School Movement and Usonian Homes[48]

Wright was the pioneer of what came to be called the Prairie School movement of architecture. He also developed the concept of the
Usonian Home in Broadacre City, his vision for urban planning in the US:

  • Prairie School is a late 19th and early 20th century architectural style, most common in the  Midwestern United States. The style is usually marked by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, windows grouped in horizontal bands, integration with the landscape, solid construction, craftsmanship, and discipline in the use of ornament. The Prairie School was an attempt at developing an indigenous North American style of architecture in symphony with the ideals and design aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement begun in the late 19th century in England by John Ruskin, William Morris, and others.
  • Usonian Homes are typically small, single-story dwellings without a garage or much storage. They are often L-shaped to fit around a garden terrace on unusual and inexpensive sites and are characterised by native materials; flat roofs and large cantilevered overhangs for passive solar heating and natural cooling; natural lighting with clerestory windows; and radiant-floor heating.  

Another distinctive feature is that they typically have little exposure to the front/’public’ side, while the rear/’private’ sides are completely open to the outside. The word carport was coined by Wright to describe an overhang for sheltering a parked vehicle. Broadacre City was an urban or suburban development concept proposed by Frank Lloyd Wright throughout most of his lifetime. He presented the idea in his book The Disappearing City in 1932.

Wright also designed original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums, and other commercial projects. Wright-designed interior elements (including leaded glass windows, floors, furniture and even tableware) were integrated into these structures. He wrote several books and numerous articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and Europe. He was recognised in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time“.[49] 

Wright’s Legacies

Throughout his long and prolific career, Frank Lloyd Wright brought American architecture to the forefront. His visionary creations were strongly influenced by the natural world, and he emphasised craftsmanship while embracing technology’s ability to make design accessible to everyone. Wright was also highly involved with the interiors of his buildings, creating furnishings and other custom elements such as stained-glass windows to enhance the overall design. His most iconic structures, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, are now designated as historic landmarks and attract visitors from around the world. The Guggenheim Museum (1939) is arguably the most important building of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career. A monument to modernism, the unique architecture of the space, with its spiral ramp riding to a domed skylight, continues to thrill visitors and provide a unique forum for the presentation of contemporary art. It is widely seen as Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece.

Sources and Further Reading

[1] Source:

[2] See:

[3] Source:

[4] At:

[5]  Source:

[6] Source: and 

[7] Source:

[8] Source:

[9] Sources: (1) Victor Horta Archived 19 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine – Encyclopædia Britannica, (2) World Heritage Centre, UNESCO. “Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta (Brussels)”., and (3) Oudin, Bernard, Dictionnaire des Architectes Victor Horta article

[10] At:

[11] Source:

[12] Source:

[13] Source:

[14] Source:

[15] Source: Benton, Charlotte; Benton, Tim; Wood, Ghislaine (2003). Art Deco: 1910–1939. Bulfinch. ISBN 978-0-8212-2834-0.

[16] Sources: (1) Campbell, Gordon,  The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, Oxford University Press, USA, 9th November 2006, pp. 42 (Vera), 43 (Cartier), 243 (Christofle), 15, 515, 527 (Lalique), 13, 134 (Boucheron), ISBN 0195189485, and (2) Metropolitan Review, Volume 2, Metropolitan Press Publications, 1989, p. 8″. 1989.

[17] Sources (1) Salon d’Automne 2012, exhibition catalogue” (PDF), and (2) Campbell, Gordon, The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, Oxford University Press, USA, 9th November 2006, pp. 42-43 ISBN 0195189485

[18] Source: Campbell, Gordon, The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, Oxford University Press, USA, 9th November 2006, pp. 42-43 ISBN 0195189485

[19] Source: Laurent, Stephane, “L’artiste décorateur”, in Art Deco,1910–1939 by Charlotte Benton, Tim Benton and Ghislain Wood (2002), Renaissance du Livre, pages 165–171

[20] Source: Cabanne, Pierre (1986). Encyclopédie Art Deco (in French). Somogy. ISBN 2-85056-178-9.

[21] Explanation: Art Deco is short for Arts Décoratifs

[22] Source:

[23] Ibid

[24] Source:

[25] Ibid

[26] See:

[27] Source and acknowledgement:

[28] Source: Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 4th edition, 2009), ISBN 0-19-953294-X, pp. 64–66

[29] Source: Pevsner, Nikolaus, ed. (1999). A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Paperback). Fleming, John; Honour, Hugh (5th edition.). London: Penguin Books. p. 880. ISBN 978-0-14-051323-3.

[30] Source: “Bauhaus Movement”. Rethinking the world Art and Technology – A new Unity.

[31] Source:

[32] At:

[33] Source:

[34] Source: Kaplan, Wendy(ed.). Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Abbeville Press, 1996. ISBN 0-7892-0080-5. page 19.

[35] Source: “Dictionary of Scottish Architects – DSA Architect Biography Report (July 15, 2022, 2:19 am)”.

[36] Source:

[37] Ibid

[38] Source:

[39] Mostly excerpted from:, except where stated otherwise.

[40] Source:

[41] Explanation: Fin de siècle is a French term meaning “end of century”, a term which typically encompasses both the meaning of the similar English idiom turn of the century and also makes reference to the closing of one era and onset of another. Source:

[42] At: and  

[43] Source:

[44] Excerpted from:

[45] Source:,_London 

[46] Source:

[47] Explanation: Organic Architecture to Frank Lloyd Wright was a philosophy of architecture that aimed to promote harmony between human habitation and the natural world. This is achieved through design approaches that aim to be sympathetic and well-integrated with a site, so buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition. Source: Wikipedia.

[48] Source: Wikipedia at:

[49] Source: See BusinessWeek at

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