The Past, Present, and Future of Art & Interior Design Movements

Pop art-style painting

Article Highlights

Throughout history, certain styles have gone in and out of fashion, and their related social movements have risen and fallen. From the natural simplicity of prehistoric art to the storytelling of ancient murals to renaissance artists who inspired our ever-changing design preferences, history has both built upon past wisdom and developed new forms of expression.

Keep reading to learn about recent movements that have impacted Americans’ art, design, architecture, and even general ways of thinking.

What are some of the most recent and relevant periods of artistic change?

Impressionism & Post-impressionism

In the late 1800s, a new art movement emerged in France that would change the course of art history. The Impressionist movement was started by a group of artists who were dissatisfied with the traditional rules of painting. They believed that art should be about capturing a moment or an impression, rather than trying to achieve realistic accuracy.

Claude Monet's impressionist painting, La Grenouillere
La Grenouillére, Claude Monet

Impressionist paintings, with their short brush strokes and light colors, often depict scenes from everyday life, such as landscapes, gardens, and city streets.

Optical mixing is a technique used by some impressionist painters to create the illusion of colors mixing together. The technique is achieved by painting adjacent areas of different colors in a way that makes the colors appear to blend together when viewed from a distance.

Post-impressionism is an art movement that began in the late 1800s in reaction to impressionism. While the impressionists were interested in capturing feelings and emotions, the post-impressionists were more interested in capturing visions and ideas.

Henri Matisse's post-impressionist painting, Collioure
Collioure, Henri Matisse

They used intense colors and exaggerated lines to convey a deeper meaning and evoke greater emotional responses from viewers.

Arts and Crafts

The arts and crafts movement was one of several social and design movements that began in the late 19th century. The movement advocated for the return to traditional craftsmanship and the use of simple, natural materials. It sought to promote the idea that art should be accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

The arts and crafts movement was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution and the mass-produced, machine-made goods that were becoming increasingly common. It champions the individual artist and the handmade over the mass-produced.

Arts and crafts Tiffany lamp
Many of the most iconic arts and crafts style objects, such as mission-style furniture and Tiffany lamps, are still highly sought after today.

Art Nouveau

Art nouveau is characterized by its use of organic, decorative shapes, long, sloping lines, and light and shadow to create a sense of motion.

Tassel house stairway in Art Nouveau style
Stairway of Tassel House in Brussels


Cubism was an art movement that appeared in the early 1900s. The artists associated with Cubism rejected traditional perspective in favor of an approach that emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the canvas. This allowed them to break down objects and scenes into their basic shapes and forms, which they then reassembled in new ways.

Woman holding cubist sculpture in front of cubist painting
Woman holding, wearing, and surrounded by cubism


Futurism is an art and design movement that began in the early 20th century. It was developed by a group of Italian artists who sought to depict and promote an appreciation for speed, technology, and progress. With their industrial style, futurist artists believed that the age of technology was a new and exciting time that should be celebrated through dynamic art.

Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, sculpture by Futurist Umberto Boccioni
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, Umberto Boccioni


Constructivists used geometric shapes and forms to create compositions that convey tangible ideas.

Constructivist collage
Constructivism with construction paper

Art Deco

Inspired by the industrial age, along with the aesthetics of Cubism, Constructivism, and Futurism, Art Deco is a style that first appeared in France at the beginning of the 20th century before quickly spreading worldwide and gaining immense popularity. The style contains linear symmetry, geometric shapes, and angular lines, as well as its use of industrial materials such as chrome, steel, and glass. Its bold designs are frequently paired with bright colors like yellow, red, black, and cream.

Art Deco Reinvented, stained glass art in modern restaurant
Art Deco Reinvented, stained glass in the Hawksmoor restaurant by Ray Bradley


The Bauhaus is a German modernist movement that gained popularity between 1919 and 1933. It incorporates streamlined forms, simplified shapes, practical materials like steel and glass, and an emphasis on function rather than decoration. It emphasized practicality and efficiency while striving to capture a modern aesthetic.

Bauhaus-style Wassily Chairs by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus museum
Wassily Chairs by Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus museum


Dadaism rejected traditional values and conventions; it embraced chance, randomness, and absurdity. Dada artists sought to provoke strong reactions and challenge the status quo through their art.

Dessin (Drawing) of a useless object by dada artist Man Ray
Dessin (Drawing) of a useless object by Man Ray


Surrealist art often features elements that are bizarre or dreamlike. Its artists explore the subconscious mind and the role of the unconscious in our lives. Many surrealist artists believe that art should not be constrained by reality and that they should be free to explore their imaginations.

Understandably, surrealism appeared shortly after dadaism in the early 20th century.

The Persistence of Memory, surrealist painting by Salvador Dalí
The Persistence of Memory, Salvador Dalí

Surrealism contains juxtapositions, as well as images that are unexpected or bizarre. Surrealist artists use automatism, a type of free association that allows the artist to create without overthinking what they are doing.

Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism is a style of art known for its free and spontaneous expression of the artist’s inner thoughts and emotions. This type of art is seen as a reaction against the more traditional, formal art styles. Like the recent movements before it, abstract expressionism was a departure from the rational, ordered world and a return to a more emotive, intuitive way of expression.

Lavender Mist, abstract expressionist splatter painting by Jackson Pollock
Lavender Mist, Jackson Pollock

This type of art is associated with the post-World War II period when artists were exploring new ways to express the trauma and chaos of the war. Abstract expressionism can be seen as a response to the social and political climate of the time.

Pop Art

The pop art style began in Britain’s mid-20th century and became popular in the United States during the 1960s. It involves bright colors and focuses on everyday objects.

Pop art-style painting
Pop art in the making

Pop art often includes images of celebrities and logos, which are meant to be instantly recognizable to viewers.

Mid-century Modernism

Clean lines, minimalism, and a focus on functionality distinguish this style. Mid-century modernism was also a reaction against the ornate design of previous eras.

Mid-century modern lamp
Mid-century modern lamp

The mid-century modernist movement began in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. However, it quickly spread to other countries, such as Great Britain, Italy, and Japan. The style continued to evolve throughout the mid-20th century and remains popular today.


Postmodern art is a type of art that surfaced in the late 20th century and challenges traditional ideas about art. Postmodern artists often use irony and parody to question traditional views about art and its role in society. Additionally, they may use images from popular culture or unusual materials to create art. Postmodern design is all about mixing and matching different styles and colors to create unique and exciting spaces or compositions.

Postmodern sculpture
Postmodern interior and sculpture

What’s next?

Art and interior design are constantly evolving to reflect the needs of the present while borrowing inspiration from the past. The future looks bright, with even more innovative ways to make our storefronts and workspaces more comfortable and stylish.

How can knowledge of art and design movements benefit your business?

By understanding the development of various movements, you can gain insights into how trends emerge and evolve. This knowledge can help you make more informed decisions about which trends to embrace based on their alignment with your business’ brand identity and goals. If you want to learn more about art, interior design, and branding, please reach out to our experienced team today.

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