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On the other hand, it literally pained me to see, everywhere I went, the flood of dead, cold, impersonal mass-manufactured products that, at a low cost, deluded their owners into thinking they were works of art. Valentin Kielland, 1896


In the late 19th century, the state of the furniture industry provoked a reaction. Many people believed that imitation, mass production and cheap materials had become the industry’s hallmarks and wished to see a return to genuine materials and solid construction. A number of critics and artists, including Valentin Kielland, believed that mediocrity had taken over the industry, and that the products showed no sign of creative tension or an artistic feel for the material.

Furniture making rose to prominence during the Art Nouveau period. Architects designed properly scaled pieces intended to complement a building’s architecture, with the interior and exterior combining to form an organic whole.

Clear lines were the defining characteristic of Art Nouveau furniture. Unbroken, curving lines symbolizing the growing force of nature were dominant, but austere, straight lines built around geometric forms were also widely used. Many variants of both styles can be found in Norwegian art furniture, often combined with elements of the medieval-inspired dragon style.