Decorative Arts Dictionary

The Decorative Arts Dictionary is a comprehensive guide that covers 150 years of the decorative and applied arts. These articles provide an in-depth exploration of the evolution of decorative arts from the mid-19th century to the present day. It covers various topics, including furniture, ceramics, glassware, textiles, metalwork, and jewellery.

It offers a fascinating insight into how art movements have influenced decorative arts over time and how they continue to shape contemporary design today. Whether you are a collector, designer, or art enthusiast, these articles will surely provide you with a wealth of knowledge on this fascinating subject.

slipware pottery

Slipware is pottery known by its primary decorating method in which slip is added before firing by dipping, painting or splashing on the leather-hard clay body surface. Slip is an aqueous clay body suspension that is a combination of clays and other minerals, such as quartz, feldspar, and mica.Read More →

Japonisme style of decorative arts

A French term used to describe a variety of European borrowings from Japanese art was Japonisme.

With the opening of trade with Japan following the expedition of the American Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853. The interest in Japanese art in the West, particularly in France, had started to develop. The artist Félix Bracquemond, a friend of the Goncourt brothers, were among the first interpreters of the style.Read More →

Suprematism, a non-objective art style, was developed by Kasimir Malevich in 1915. It replaced conventional obsession with human face and natural objects with modern symbols. Influenced by artists like El Lissitzky, Suprematism influenced the Bauhaus school and the Constructivist movement in Russia.Read More →

Neon Lighting Dictionary term

Neon Lighting. Semiflexible, hollow tubes of clear acrylic with small bulbs inside that can be connected to light up all at once or sequentially to produce a “chasing” effect. It’s also known as disco lighting, and it’s given homeowners new illumination alternatives. Lights designers consider neon lighting to be an art form.Read More →


Affichiste. Name (literally ‘poster designer’) taken by the French artists and photographers Raymond Hains (1926-) and Jacques de la Villeglé (1926-), who met in 1949 and created a technique to create collages from pieces of torn-down posters during the early 1950s. These works, which they displayed for the first time in 1957, were called affiches lacérées (torn posters). Read More →

United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (“Shakers”) | Dining Table | American, Shaker | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Shaker furniture style is characterised by simplicity and functionality, made from high-quality materials and features clean lines and minimal ornamentation. It fell out of favour in the early twentieth century but is now appreciated for its timeless elegance and practicality.Read More →

Spool bed, Green Gables Heritage Place

Jenny Lind Style is an American term for spool furniture, characterised by intricately turned spindles and ornate carvings. It fell out of fashion in the early 20th century, but some antique collectors still appreciate its beauty and craftsmanship.Read More →

A method of printing from a design drawn directly on a slab of stone or other suitable material. The design is not raised in relief as in woodcut or incised as in line engraving, but drawn on a smooth printing surface. Initially, this surface was provided with a slab of unique limestone, but metal (usually zinc or aluminium) or more recently plastic sheets were prefered because they are less bulky. Read More →

Regency Tankard featured image

Regency tankards were made in England during the Regency, 1811-20, with intricate low-relief figures adorning both the body and handle, often depicting scenes from mythology or history. They are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts as they represent a unique piece of history and artistry.Read More →

Wrought iron an example - featured image

The term “wrought iron” refers to the material rather than the products made of iron. Modern mild steel has supplanted wrought iron, a forgeable ferrous material used up until about the middle of the twentieth century. Because of the extensive forming required during its production—under power hammers and through rollers—it was originally referred to as “wrought” (or “worked”). Read More →

Brandewijnskom - brandy bowls

Brandewijnskom. Brandy bowls were made in Holland and Friesland in the 17th and 18th centuries.Read More →

Jardinière: A large ornamental stand

A jardinière is a large ornamental stand or holder to display potted plants or cut flowers. The jardinière first appearedRead More →

Winsome Pulman Table Featured Image

An extension table is a table whose length can be increased by inserting a leaf or leaves. The Pulman Extension Table is made of durable solid wood and can be used in various settings.Read More →

Guilloche design term

The guilloche is a decorative element that encircles a line of bosses with two bands or ribbons intertwined. In the British Regency style, it was particularly well-liked and adopted by furniture designers from Renaissance to the Twenties and Fifties.Read More →

Armchair, 1907 - 1913 designed by Gustav Stickley

The term mission furniture was first popularized by Joseph P. McHugh of New York, a furniture manufacturer and retailer. The word mission references the Spanish missions throughout colonial California. The style became increasingly popular following the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.Read More →

Ablution Basin - Oxford

Ablution basin. A type of basin for holding water intended: (1) in ecclesiastical usage, for rinsing the hands or some object of church plate, such as a chalice; or (2) in secular usage, for rinsing the fingers at the dinner table (sometimes called a rose-water basin). Its founder donated two ecclesiastical ablution basins in 1515-16 to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Bishop Richard Fox. See alms dish.Read More →

Shagreen Glass Case

Shagreen is fish skin used as a veneer to cover furniture and accessories. Also known as galuchat and sharkskin, shagreen is the skinRead More →

Fujina pottery example

Fujina pottery is made at Matsue, Shimane. 19th-century products include bluish-green tea bowls and white, yellow, or bluish-green domestic pottery. Later urban work promotes folk art.Read More →

Amstelhoek Vase featured image

Amstelhoek was a Dutch pottery founded in 1897 by Willem Christiaan Hoeker. It produced dark-coloured vases and bowls with white in-lays, brown vases with blue decorations and small animal-shaped vases with white inlays on darkgrounds. In 1903 it went bankrupt, but was still producing earthenware until 1907, when it was taken over by the majolica tirm Haga, which merged with the larger De Distel plant in 1910.Read More →

Vitruvian Man - featured image

Anthropometrics is a systematic study of human measurement that was increasingly used by designers dealing with design issues involving human movement in the decades following WWII. Their implementation of a more analytical and methodical approach to design problems had a lot in common with the techniques studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm from the mid-1950s to the 1960s, as well as the Design Methods trend.Read More →