Classic design movements to inspire your interiors

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Knowing a few of the big movements that have changed the rules of interior design is the first step to understanding what is fashionable today and what might change the shape of design to come.

If you’re serious about staying ahead of the game with your own designs then at the very least you need to know where the trendsetters before you got their inspiration from. Here are a few of the main classic design movements to get you started:

Baroque and rococo

classic-design-movements-to-inspire-your-interiors Interior style owes a lot to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and the artistic movements of those periods are numerous. The 16th century gave us Baroque, which developed into Rococo and later into Neoclassicism. A lot of designers use the term rococo to refer back to the ornate French interiors of the general period. While the infamous Palace of Versailles defines the grandeur of Baroque the changes that Rococo brought were less serious, more colourful, but just as elegant.


Modernism was a design movement that is probably more famous outside the world of interior design than in it. For one it was a hugely definitive literary movement, see James Joyce to Virginia Woolf. Secondly, it was an architectural movement that shaped most of our modern cities with concrete slabs and blocks of urbania. The idea drawing all of these media together was a rejection of tradition, thereby creating something modern. While Modernism may not seem quite so modern today, the materials seen in modern design: concrete, glass and metal; are still a very important part of our buildings today. So it’s no surprise that simply finished surfaces and clean lines are still an extremely popular style choice.

Art Deco

classic-design-movements-to-inspire-your-interiors_1Art Deco reared its head rather recently, as the principle style element used in Baz Lurhmann’s Great Gatsby. The effect of that movie, conjuring images of the 1920’s Jazz Age, was to make Art Deco just as cool today as it was when Fitzgerald’s novella was written. Art Deco is epitomized by geometric shape, straight edges and symmetry. The true home of Art Deco is New York, where the 1920s was a transformative period, socially and industrially. The statement, clean-cut style retains a still quite obvious presence in the architecture of the city, and the ornate motifs of Art Deco are still a classic design feature today.

Art Nouveau

The beautiful curves, swirls and natural imagery of Art Nouveau are probably most famously seen in the ubiquitous Parisian “La Tournée du Chat Noir” poster that has become one of the most iconic design images all time. Many French art movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries owe a lot to Art Nouveau. The Pre-Raphaelites used the natural lines and vivid colour, the post-impressionists, most notably Toulouse Lautrec, used the soft edges and statement contrast. Art Nouveau is still very cool today as it fits seamlessly with vintage-look designs. The Tiffany lamp for instance, a definitive Art Nouveau design, is the perfect accessory for any trendy home.


classic-design-movements-to-inspire-your-interiors._2jpgTo the untrained eye Minimalism might easily be mistaken for Modernism. The elements that made up Modernism are certainly echoed in Minimalism, but knowing the nuances between the two styles will certainly, and literally, give your designs an edge. Minimalism was an attempt to reject the consumerist society, and the simplicity went further than the clean surfaces of Modernism by ruling out colour too. Minimalism was therefore exemplified by the colour white, and incorporated simple geometric shape and clutter-free open space to create a calm and serene finish, quite distinct from the boldness of Modernism.

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