Monday, September 17, 2012

The Chinoiserie Style Interior

Chinoiserie. chi•noi•se•rie (shen'wäz-re') A French term, signifying "Chinese-esque", a creative melange of curiously Eastern elements infused with old world sensibilities, paying homage to Oriental influences but expressed with an undeniable European spirit. The popularity of the Chinoiserie interior peaked around the middle of the 18th century. The earliest appearance of a major Chinoiserie interior scheme was in Louis Le Vau’s Trianon de porcelaine, built for Louis XIV at Versailles. The fad spread rapidly and no court residence, especially in Germany, was complete without it's Chinese room. It declined when it seemed to European eyes the very antithesis of neoclassicism. 

Chinoiserie interiors have made a comeback since the late 20th century. However it seems to be one of those design styles you either love or hate. For those of you who find it exquisite, enjoy some of my favorite examples of this particular design style.

Enjoy as you view the images.

This beautiful dining room is papered in a luxurious aqua Chinoiserie wallpaper. Wallpaper from the Orient was initially brought to Europe by the East India Company. Later on Europeans learned how to create cheaper imitations. Chinese wallpaper brings an understated elegance to virtually any design style. It is not exclusively Chinoiserie.

Henri Samuel

Chinoiserie wall covering sets the stage for this fabulous mix of colors and pattern. In the 17th century the Orient appeared to be very remote and mysterious because there was little information about China. It was pictured as a paradise land with lush vegetation, colorful birds and serene landscapes. Wallpapers for Chinoiserie interiors reflected that.

Timothy Corrigan
I love the punch of coral in this gorgeous Chinoiserie room. This color combination is a good choice if you are considering designing a Chinoiserie interior.

Of course you must add in some fabulous Chinese export porcelain.

Of all the exotic design influences that have been embraced by Western interiors, Chinoiserie is probably the most irresistible. You see it's fresh and colourful appeal in today’s homes. For the modern take on Chinoiserie interiors visit my blog post

Chinese panels are a timeless element for decorating your interior with Chinoiserie. They are a great choice if you want a touch on your walls but don't want to commit to wallpaper.

Henrietta Spencer-Churchill

The interesting thing about Chinoiserie is the tremendous range and variety of Oriental scenes and fantastical decorative details. Chinese people in elaborate robes with coolie hats, long pigtails and mustaches were very popular. Look for painted chests to add to your decor.

A lovely Chinoiserie vignette.

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Bird motifs are common in the Chinoiserie interior. You will find them on everything from porcelain.....

Katie Ridder

to wallpaper.

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Oriental gardens contained pagodas and this design element was widely used as a decorative element for making furniture and home accessories such as mirrors, lanterns and wall lights.

Even beds were shaped as pagodas. Antique English Chinoiserie Bed, from the workshop of William and John Linnell in 1754

This is something that can be accomplished today for your modern Chinoiserie bedroom.

More pretty wall paper!! Chinoiserie wallcoverings have been used in home interiors since the 17th century, and it was a favorite style of monarchs such as Louis XV of France.

Scott Snyder

One quick way to add an instant feel of the Orient is to add some fretwork to your Chinoiserie style room. This fabulous room feature fretwork panels on the walls.

Here is an idea if you want a bit of Chinoiserie fretwork added to your interior space.

French interiors are at home with Chinoiserie accents. Various European monarchs, such as Louis XV of France, gave special favor to Chinoiserie, as it blended well with the other styles.

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Look for Chinoiserie style painted furniture. A few pieces will make your interior come alive with Oriental flavor.

The Chinoiserie interior of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent's Paris apartment. Harlequin floors are also gorgeous with this style.

A gorgeous Nicky Haslam designed Chinoiserie dining room.

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Chinese import porcelain is a must for the Chinoiserie interior! There are so many lovely items to choose from. Look for vases, ginger jars and plates. to name a few.

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And don't forget the perennial favorite blue and white Chinese import which is still as popular in today's interiors as it was centuries ago.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, as tourists and traders ventured eastward, a fascination with all things Asian swept Europe. Inspired by travelers' sketchbooks and imported porcelain and lacquerware, designers layered their furniture, interiors, and ceramics with fantastical Chinese imagery.

Europe’s chinoiserie was opulent and showy, somewhat at odds with today’s more understated design aesthetic. However you can still employ chinoiserie successfully with a few decorative items, lacquered furniture, or a bit of colorful wallpaper. These accents can inspire this timeless style in modern interiors.

Chinoiserie wallpaper is chic, timeless and currently on-trend.

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Jeffrey Hitchcock

Chinoiserie definitely brings worldly sophistication to a space.

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A beautiful example of a lacquered and painted secretary. Sometimes one piece in a room can bring the subtle Chinoiserie feel to your interior that you are looking for.

Look for beautiful Chinoiserie style mirrors. This is one accessory that can bring instant wow factor to you room.

Another great way to incorporate Chinoiserie into your interiors is through window treatments.

Designer Audrey Curl of Ornamentations Design

Last but certainly not least, one of the most popular accessories in a Chinoiserie rinterior is the screen. The most common type of object made in the style, both for Chinese domestic use and exports was the Coromandel screen, a large folding screen with as many as twelve leaves, coated in black lacquer with large pictures using the kuan cai (literally "incised colors") technique, sometimes combined with mother of pearl inlays

My advice is to put one of these on your list of must haves if you are considering decorating in Chinoiserie style.

Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke

Chinoiserie has made a grand comeback, because it has never truly gone out of fashion. Part of its longevity is due to the fact that Chinoiserie has that unique ability to look right at home with many different decorating styles. 

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