Behind The Scenes: The Nouveau Inspiration

June 12, 2020

In celebration of the release of our Art Nouveau collection, we wanted to give you a look behind the scenes with our designer Elena Leong. Art Nouveau was an art movement between 1890 and 1910. It was delicate and intricate, featuring flowing designs and natural organic forms. Elena has a true passion for nouveau and it shines through in this beautiful collection. She's put so much love and consideration into each design and she's here with us to share the inspiration behind some of the beautiful pieces in this collection.

During my younger years, I bought a book “Drawings of Mucha”, which contained what I thought were the most beautiful images I’d ever seen.  Thus began my love for the works of Alphonse Mucha, and all things related to the Art Nouveau movement. Lady Loie is a homage to “The Four Seasons”, a work of 4 panels each depicting a girl in a different season.

“The Four Seasons: Spring”

Photo: Alphonse Mucha / Public domain

Mademoiselle Bernhardt is a homage to Mucha’s sublime portraits of women with elaborate hairdos adorned by equally intricate headpieces.

“Byzantine Heads: The Blonde”
Photo: Alphonse Mucha / Public domain

A few years ago, I visited Belgium, and in Brussels went to the Horta Museum, a Unesco listed house which Victor Horta designed and lived in. He was an architect who was one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement. The house was filled with furnishings and design features decorated with the complex and swirling motifs so characteristic of this art movement and I was in heaven.
The harp, "Ancient Movements" and the lotus "Natures Bloom" are inspired by the designs in this house.

Detail of the door of the Horta Museum, Brussels
Photo: Purple / CC BY-SA (

Much like the island of Murano in Italy is known for its glass craftsmanship, Rene Lalique’s designs are one of the yardsticks against which fine glass art is measured. His works were often characterised by natural flowing shapes and animal forms on etched glass. I have tried to capture some of this quality in the various animals designs the Frog, Dragonfly, Curious Hare, and Proud Stag. 

Glass Vase, Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
Photo: Fopseh / CC BY-SA (

I love Gustav Klimt’s use of decorative shapes and patterns within the space of his figures, and the use of gold leaf. These shapes were my inspiration for my snow leopard design, Klimt The Cat.

“Adele Bloch-Bauer”
Photo: Gustav Klimt / Public domain

While in New York visiting a friend some time ago, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which happened to have an exhibition of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s artworks. He was best known for his work in stained glass, and the exhibition had many of his vases, stained glass lamps, and in particular a number of enormous stained glass windows, for which no photo would ever do justice to the depth and luminosity of these coloured panels. That being said, some of the resins used by Erstwilder lend themselves to the quality of stained glass, and I tried to do justice in the peacock brooch and Steel Magnolias Necklace.

My current home, even though it wasn’t built in the early 1900s, contains a number of pretensions to Art Nouveau design. Amongst these elements are the tiles that decorate the wall in my bathroom.
So, of course, there had to be a design inspired by decorative wall tiles, which is the ginko leaves, "Floret Fronds".

Bathroom wall tiles
Photo: Elena Leong

Last but not least, no Art Nouveau collection could be complete without one of its most famous icons, Theophile Steinlen’s poster advertising the nineteenth-century Parisian establishment Le Chat Noir. This poster has been referenced, lampooned and paid homage so many times that it would be remiss of me not to follow suit.

“Tournee Du Chat Noir”
Photo: Théophile Steinlen / Public domain

We hope you're feeling inspired!
We’re all very excited to share this collection with you! Take a look at the new designs here

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