I have always loved Asian art, design and architecture. The simplicity and sophistication I see in it finds its way into my design work again and again. Chinoiserie, in all its forms, has always intrigued me and it’s history is fascinating. We have European countrymen in the twelfth century to thank for bringing this style to us. As they explored the Far East, they brought back silks, fine porcelain, and lacquered, gilded furniture. The style of these treasures had never been seen before by Europeans and they were smitten with this new design sensibility.
As trade and exploration increased, Western appetite for Asian goods grew as well. Soon the demand was so high that entrepreneurial artists and craftsmen in France and England began imitating Chinese goods for the upper classes. In doing so, they fused European baroque and rococo opulence with this new Asian style and the result was a sort of idealized interpretation of Chinese life that began to be called Chinoiserie (meaning “Chinese-esque” in French).
Chinoiserie style is still alive and well today in furniture design, textiles, and pottery. Two companies making particularly exquisite Chinoiserie hand-painted wallpaper are Fromental (shown above), and de Gournay (below).
The designs often feature beautiful birds, elaborate depictions of flowers and trees, as well as “daily life” scenes similar to French Toile. The large scale repeats and the subtle use of color are breath-taking.
I also recently discovered a wealth of resources at Chinoiserie Chic. What a fabulous collection of all things Asian-inspired! Finding this little gem of a blog was such a treat and I often enjoy it over my 5:00 am cup of coffee each morning.