The natural world, ancient Egypt, Meso-America and Japan. The Art Deco designer, Emile-Allain Séguy really mixed it all up in his series, “Prismes: 40 Planches de Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux” (1931).
Prismes: 40 Planches de Dessins et Coloris Nouveaux (Prisms: 40 Plates of Designs and New Colors), was chock full of Art Deco designs by Émile-Allain Séguy and was published in Paris in 1931.
Séguy was a style leader, a trend setter and as such his Prismes was intended as a pure design statement, as an inspiration for other avant-garde designers of the day.
Séguy’s designs contain a mind-blowing variety of geometric, abstract and semi-abstract motifs executed in multiple colors and include natural-inspired figures, birds, flowers, crystals, coral and shells. All of them are in high Art Deco style, which was characterized by its eclecticism and drew from a variety of sources that sought to combine old European design traditions with the modern style diffused by avant-garde art.
Séguy’s designs also echoed the romantic fascination with early Egyptian and Meso-American “exotic” cultures fuelled by the archaeological discoveries of the times. Some of them show a distinct Japanese influence to them.
Emile-Allain Séguy described the illustrations in a previous collection, Papillons(1925), as “un monde somptueux de formes et de couleurs”- a world of sumptuous forms and colors.
That’s exactly how he saw the natural world. As a rich, inspirational and untapped source for his designs. Six years after the publication of Papillons, he continued this theme in Prismes, only this time the natural motifs are more abstract, more blended into his striking Art Deco designs.
Little known today, Séguy was a popular French designer throughout the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements of the 1920s & 1930s. Many designers took inspiration from nature but his interest in the scientific study of insects as a source of inspiration for artistic creation was totally unique.
If you enjoyed these, check out Séguy’s Papillons of 1926.