Friday, August 1, 2014

Design Inspiration: Chinoiserie

I had the opportunity to study art history earlier in my career. I am drawn into and excited by all things beautiful. (Who isn’t?) What I discovered whilst studying art history – is that these objects become more beautiful – more intrinsically interesting when you understand the story behind their design. The back story, if you will, further engages me – and connects me to the aesthetic of beauty. For this reason, I have decided to share a little bit of history with you – to assist you in the backstory in your pursuit of all that is beautiful.

Chinoisieie is a style in art d├ęcor that is reflective of Chinese qualities or motifs often depicting fanciful imagery of an imaginary China. It is characterized by an asymmetrical format and whimsical contrasts of scale, as well as by the attempted imitation of Chinese porcelain and the use of ‘lacquer-like’ materials and decoration.

Chinoiserie was introduced to Europe in the mid to late 17th century. Its popularity peaked in the middle of the 18th century and was slowly replaced with an enthusiasm for Neoclassicism. Various European monarchs, Louis XV of France, for example, were avid collectors because Chinoiserie blended well with the Rococo style. 

More recent interpretations of Chinoiserie incorporate modern design elements and techniques. Today, one can see the influence of Chinoiserie in many housewares throughout Europe and North America.

This concludes our little foray into Chinoiserie. I hope the next time you see something that takes your breath away – that you are encouraged – to lean in a little closer and find out a little more of the backstory.

Great Examples:
Diminutive Chinoiserie Cabinet
This fine George II Chinoiserie scarlet lacquered table-top cabinet on bun feet is decorated throughout. The piece dates back to the 18th century.
It is on sale for $4,850.

Chinoiserie Armoire by Julia Gray
This armoire sells for $16,800;

George II Chinoiserie Lacquered Metamorphic Triple Flap Games Table
This rare table dates back to the mid 18th century in the period of George II.
It sells for $16,500.

Chinoiserie Chest
This antique pine chest of drawers dates back to 1850.
It sells for $2,595.

French 18th Century Chinoiserie Desk Box
This French Red Lacquer and Gilt Wooden Box comes from France circa 1740.
It sells for $9,500.

Dutch Chinoiserie Decorated Demi-Line Commode
This 18th Century Louis XVI style demi-lune commode has three drawers and two side doors with lacquered decoration
It sells for $65,000.

Rescue, Restore, Redecorate.

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