THE ALLURE OF THE EAST
Homes & Gardens|November 2021
A captivating journey through the whimsical world of chinoiserie and how it influenced design
JO BAILEY

A painted chinoiserie panel in the dining room of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s home in Paris, designed by Stéphane Boudin

DECORATIVE STYLE

Chinoiserie is a cultural phenomenon that first swept across Europe and America in the 17th and 18th centuries, flooding both interiors and gardens with all manner of things inspired by the Far East. Chinoiserie is traditionally defined as a style of building and decoration that was inspired by the East but manufactured purely in the West. A chinoiserie object is therefore not the same as a Chinese object. In many cases a real Chinese object would be given a European embellishment to increase its appeal, effectively turning it from a simple foreign artifact into a piece of chinoiserie. It was in England that chinoiserie can be said to have been most successfully absorbed into mainstream fashion, percolating further down the social scale than elsewhere. English chinoiserie took a gentler form, being adapted to complement the existing tastes of the Georgian period. Chinese wallpapers with exotic birds and flowers were put up in all the great houses, accompanied by elegant lacquer chests and small collections of Chinese porcelain over fireplaces.

PALETTE & PATTERN

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