Times & Places

20th Century Design: Turn of the Century

The turn of the century heralded the dawn of a new age in many ways. In the design field, the century opened auspiciously with world's fairs in Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904), where designers, manufacturers, and consumers compared products from around the world. Although more geometric decorative schemes from Britain, Germany, and Austria were on view at these expositions, the fairs' Western displays were dominated by the art nouveau style. Self-consciously "new," the style originated in the 1880s, peaked in popularity around 1900, and fell from favor after 1914. Art nouveau is characterized by whiplash curves, swaying female figures, and entwining plant tendrils. Emanating from Belgium and France, the style was influential throughout Europe and the Americas.

Excerpt from

Dallas Museum of Art, Hot Cars, High Fashion, Cool Stuff: Designs of the 20th Century (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1996).