Chinoiserie: how to connect the West and East in the interior? The multifaceted French style is called outlandish, theatrical, mysterious, magnificent, philosophical, luxurious, refined, exotic. Each such characteristic reveals a new facet of it. Maybe that’s the secret of his unfading youth, relevance, demand on different continents.
“Chinese” is not a synonym for bad taste!
The style traces its history back to the masterpieces of the masters of medieval China, whose secrets of creating unique objects were finally lost with the fall of the Qing Empire. That luxury of the Celestial Empire had nothing to do with today’s Chinese consumer goods! Chinoiserie style (literally translated: “Chinese”) It turned out to be one of the most successful attempts in the history of Europe and Asia to unite completely opposite cultures, philosophies, spiritual and artistic traditions.
Chinoiserie (the second equal name of the design direction) is compared to a dream, a beautiful dream, an extravaganza. It originated in France 400 years ago, when the inhabitants of the Old World distant overseas countries seemed to be something incredibly delightful, mystical and necessarily fabulously rich. It is noteworthy that the English invented their own version of chinoiserie (a little later than the French), calling it “china”.
Elements of “Chinese” are reflected in European Rococo, Russian Baroque of the time of Peter the Great and Art Nouveau, English neoclassicism and Victorian style, vintage and Art Deco, which conquered the Old and New World. Among the fans of Chinoiserie were emperors, kings, presidents. He left his mark on the world cinema in the 40s of the last century. At that terrible time, war-weary people simply tried to forget themselves, admiring the frames of romantic films, where interiors with the creations of Chinese masters were present. Pay attention!
European style Chippendale (It has nothing to do with the American cartoon characters Chip and Dale!) in the manufacture of furniture made of elite woods, the culture of tea drinking also appeared thanks to chinoiserie. And today, in the homes of the aristocrats of Great Britain, families, friends, acquaintances gather for five-o-clock (“five o’clock tea”) at carved, invented by an Englishman pseudo-Chinese mahogany tables. Chairs, armchairs created in the style of Chippendale, are usually offered to senior or honorary guests. What do calculation, pragmatism, fabulous luxury have in common?
The answer is simple: the love of comfort! She became the driving force behind the development of a new style. The first European porcelain tableware was a copy of Chinese masterpieces. The inhabitants of the Old World knew almost nothing about real life in the Middle Kingdom, so they invented their own China, naturally having very little in common with the real Qing Empire. And commerce dictated its own rules of the game: European merchants brought screens, wallpaper, silk, decorative vases from the Celestial Empire to sell them more expensive. Asian things seemed incredibly luxurious, they gained additional appeal in the eyes of the public due to their exoticism, practicality, sky-high prices.
It is natural that such interior items quickly began to be associated with the high social status of their owners and the corresponding standard of living. Centuries later, chinoiserie was again in demand not because of low prices for Chinese goods! It’s just that the urban space turned out to be uncomfortable for everyday rest, relaxation, family evenings, romantic dates. And in search of practical, elegant solutions to this problem, interior designers turned to … chinoiserie.
Chinese-French secrets of comfort
Creating a comfortable space for living in Europe and Asia has always been equated with high art. These elements make the interior in the Chinoiserie style super cozy: – Gentle (Not pale!) and at the same time quite a bright color palette. – Smooth lines, refined and simple shapes of accessories, pieces of furniture. – Additional lighting sources (including lamps with painted platforms, Chinese lanterns). – Light carved, painted, inlaid screens used for zoning space. – Silk or rice paper wallpaper — they easily create the necessary atmosphere. – Lacquered wooden carved furniture (including cabinets, dressers, armchairs, tables, beds on curved legs). – Pastoral images of exotic birds, girls in luxurious outfits, imperial concubines, blooming gardens, majestic pagodas, dragons, oriental parks. – Vases, sets, all kinds of accessories made of real Chinese porcelain.
Previously, in such an interior, the main role was played by things made by hand by craftsmen. Today, furniture, decorative items, textiles, finishing materials in the Chinoiserie style are created using manual and machine technologies. A typical example: premium silk, rice wallpaper is produced by large enterprises in Italy, Germany, Spain, France on computer-controlled machines. However, the paintings on the materials are applied manually, observing, copying the graphic traditions of medieval China. Pay attention to taking out!
To decorate interior items in the chinoiserie style, it is customary to use combinations of yellow, green, red, blue colors, gold and silver backgrounds. In order to obtain unique pure shades, the masters still use exclusively natural paints produced according to ancient Asian and European technologies from natural semi-precious stones, including malachite, lapis lazuli. Exotic and antiquity — sources of universal solutions Interiors created 100% according to the canons of Chinoiserie can be seen today mainly in museums. Modern versions of this design are more democratic, because its ideas are easy to implement even in a small apartment.
To solve the problem, you will need: – At least one painted wooden screen-partition. – Chinoiserie porcelain set or tea pair. – Painted lamps, lampshades, Chinese lanterns. – Decorative silk pillows, where the drawings are applied using the technique of cold batik. – Curtains whose decor continues or repeats the images from rice, silk wallpaper. – An elegant carved dressing table installed in the recreation area or bedroom. – A set of vases, to which you can add antique inkwells, ashtrays, snuffboxes, “Chinese dummies”, and other Asian figurines.
Things whose manufacture and placement in the rooms correspond to the canons of Feng Shui, photos from martial arts competitions, miniature watercolors with pastoral plots on the theme of the life of aristocrats in the Qing Empire will look appropriate in such an interior.
The main task of furnishing interiors according to the canons of Chinoiserie: creating an atmosphere of lightness, grace, ease. To achieve all this, it is necessary to avoid congestion of space and strictly observe the logic of placing luxury items.
Pay attention! Chinoiserie elements are perfectly combined with many existing styles. This exotic direction is more flexible than Japanese naturalism or African ethnicity. French designers have not been able to fully adapt both of these styles to the European worldview.
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