Design Inspiration – Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau came about in the late 19th century and though short-lived, didn’t fail to make an impact. Art Nouveau posters and graphics, in particular, had a very distinctive look. These graphics were typically highly decorative and used hues such as green, orange, yellow, purple or red. They featured curvy lines and often incorporated an unmistakable typographic style. This poster-style made a come back in the 1960s during the hippie era since its floral, decorative designs tied in with the movement’s focus on nature.

A good comparison where we can see how this historical graphical style influenced a later design is with the images below.


The image to the right titled, JOB was created by Alphonse Mucha in 1897. In the poster, Mucha placed a prominent female character against the JOB monogram as her background. She holds a cigarette with her long hair drawn as flowing lines. The woman’s head is leaning back in a sensual manner as she holds the cigarette. The background colours used are very cool in tonality in comparison to the warmer colours used on the main figure.

Similarly, the poster to the left which was created in 1967 advertising a concert, with Big Brother & The Holding Co. The designer undoubtedly used elements of the movement and Alphonse Mucha’s poster for inspiration. The poster makes use of the same natural female form and similar linear treatment to the hair. It is also very fluid in nature, however, the one stark difference lies in the bright, vibrant colours used which were commonly attributed to the psychedelic 60s.

Creative Synesthesia – Rovina Sigamoney


Meret Oppenheim, ‘Fur Breakfast’ (1936)

The above piece titled ‘Fur Breakfast’ was created by Meret Oppenheim in 1936. This work was widely considered to be a typical Surrealist object. Surrealism grew after World War I out of a dissatisfaction with traditional social values and artistic practices. Artists quickly became interested in how the illogical, unconscious mind could move past the restraints of a rational society. This piece aims to do just that, while also invoking the feeling of synesthesia, which is a condition where one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another. Oppenheim’s object ‘Fur Breakfast’, makes references to the varieties of sensations fur can bring. For example, fur can be delightful to touch, yet repelling to the tongue. With that in mind, a cup and spoon, are made to be put in the mouth, which is why this piece provokes the viewer into imagining what the fur-lined cup might feel and taste like to drink from. This forces one to feel a mixture of sensations.