Art Nouveau has many characteristics in common with its parent, the Arts and Crafts Movement. It has been associated with such features as ornament based on plant forms, honest expression of underlying structure, and freedom from past design traditions. The first exposure most Buffalonians had to European Art Nouveau architecture was the Standard Paint Company pavilion, brought to the Pan-American Exposition from the 1900 Paris World's Fair. This style did not catch on in the United States, which makes Esenwein & Johnson's Art Nouveau buildings exceptionally rare examples. However, the use of Art Nouveau in the decorative arts was widespread in America during the first decade of the twentieth century. The popularity of Art Nouveau ceramics perhaps played a role in Esenwein & Johnson's consideration of the architectural possibilties of glazed terra cotta.
Here are some examples of Art Nouveau work produced concurrently with Esenwein & Johnson's progressive designs.