This essay will discuss the ways in which the Art Nouveau movement affected society through their representation of women in contrast with the way we know design today and how contemporary design represents women. In an ever-growing society of activists and feminists lots of designers are using their skills and platform to create design articles that would help solve ethical issues through contemporary design.


Art Nouveau translate as NEW ART, It really was a huge movement that saw things change in art, architecture, fashion and furnishings. Some would say it was the birth of graphic design. With the likes of Alphonse Mucha & Gustav Klimt making Art Nouveau very well known throughout the art and design industry which was proven by the huge rise in this style appearing throughout large buildings and fashion.

Through todays design, interiors and fashion we are seeing an era of simplicity and minimalism this was made famous in the design industry by designers such as Saul Bass & Milton Glaser.

The question that this essay will answer is how does the representation of women in modern design fair against one of the largest movements in design and how far as we come in this aspect of design.


Art Nouveau was most popular between 1890 and 1910 which was also the era that we saw department stores, Catalogs and mass production of magazines come about, Today this is something we are more than familiar with advertising is a part of our everyday life now.

Design & Advertising has always been very influenced by culture and society, This was made clear by research of the works created during the Art Nouveau period.

Art Nouveau was most popular between the years of 1890 and 1910. During these times the future was not too bright for women as a gender, The Mirror published an article regarding women and their rights at this point in time called “Everywoman in 1910: No vote, poor pay, little help – Why the world had to change” this article explains.

“All women in 1910, irrespective of social class background, were seen as second-class citizens – a fact underlined by the denial to them of the parliamentary vote.And all women were encouraged from childhood to strive to the ideal of serving others, to consider the interests of their menfolk first rather than their own.Since most women were expected to become full-time wives and mothers, rather than earn their own living, options in life were limited.”
The statements in this quote are proven by the stereotypes and representations in the artwork and advertising through this era.

Alphonse Mucha was one of the renowned artists who was very well known for his decorative Art Nouveau style. Mucha’s style of illustration took the interest of many large companies who were wanting to advertise their products and services for the first time. A majority of Mucha’s illustrations were of women in his particular style and this is something that the companies that advertised with him utilized throughout their advertising campaigns.

Nestle’s Foods was one of the companies were one of the large companies that took a liking to Mucha’s work and commissioned him to create advertising for their products for infants. Figure 1 shows an illustrative advertisement that shows a woman represented in the customary stereotype of the time of being a home-maker and mother. This was something that was expected by women of this era as demonstrated in quote previously mentioned.
Alphonse Mucha was well known for the women in his artwork being very sexualised and scantily clad throughout his pieces which is subsequently an ancient marketing device which has been proven by research of scientists.
“Scientists claim they have discovered exactly why sex sells – and it isn’t just because consumers think that if they buy the car they can get the girl. Researchers found seeing an attractive man or woman in an advert excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought.”
The Daily Mail, 22 September 2011.


Nestle Ad .png
Figure 1 

Figure 2 shows another example of a women respresented as a mother and house wife although a lot more convered up and the subject looks a lot more conservative in this example.



Chocolate Ideal.png
Figure 2 




Case study 2  – Comparisons of art work from then and now and how these represent women differently.

Case Study 3 – Discussion of the movements impact.


Research conclusion and why this goes for design now.


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