The emergence of Art Deco was closely connected with the rise in status of decorative artists, who until late in the 19th century had been considered simply as artisans. The term "arts décoratifs" had been invented in 1875, giving the designers of furniture, textiles, and other decoration official status. The Société des artistes décorateurs (Society of decorative artists), or SAD, was founded in 1901, and decorative artists were given the same rights of authorship as painters and sculptors. A similar movement developed in Italy. The first international exhibition devoted entirely to the decorative arts, the Esposizione international d'Arte decorative moderna, was held in Turin in 1902. Several new magazines devoted to decorative arts were founded in Paris, including Arts et décoration and L'Art décoratif moderne. Decorative arts sections were introduced into the annual salons of the Sociéte des artistes français, and later in the Salon d'automne. French nationalism also played a part in the resurgence of decorative arts; French designers felt challenged by the increasing exports of less expensive German furnishings. In 1911, the SAD proposed the holding of a major new international exposition of decorative arts in 1912. No copies of old styles were to be permitted; only modern works. The exhibit was postponed until 1914, then, because of the war, postponed until 1925, when it gave its name to the whole family of styles known as Déco.
The Paris department stores and fashion designers also played an important part in the rise of Art Déco. Established firms including the luggage maker Louis Vuitton silverware firm Christofle, glass designer René Lalique, and the jewelers Louis Cartier and Boucheron, who all began designing products in more modern styles. Beginning in 1900, the Department stores had recruited decorative artists to work in their design studios. The decoration of the 1912 Salon d'Automne had been entrusted to the department store Printemps. During the same year Printemps created its own workshop called "Primavera". By 1920 Primavera employed more than three hundred artists. The styles ranged from the updated versions of Louis XIV, Louis XVI and especially Louis Philippe furniture made by Louis Süe and the Primavera workshop to more modern forms from the workshop of the Au Louvre department store. Other designers, including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Paul Foliot refused to use mass production, and insisted that each piece be made individually by hand. The early art deco style featured luxurious and exotic materials such as ebony, and ivory and silk, very bright colors and stylized motifs, particularly baskets and bouquets of flowers of all colors, giving a modernist look.