The Chinoiserie style defined and how to use it in your home

So you’ve heard of Chinoiserie, but you’re not exactly sure what it is? We caught up with an interior design to give us the low-down

Takeda Teal wall mural. Image credit │Feathr

Born in the 17th century from a new found of love of culture, Chinoiserie has seen a surge in popularity over the last decade as maximalism sees a surge in popularity. Interior designer Victoria Cronin talks us through the Asian-inspired style’s orgins:

A typical Chinoiserie style depicts colourful scenes from far flung exotic places. However, Chinoiserie did not come from any Eastern or Asian country, but is in fact a Western interpretation of traditional oriental arts. In most cases the imagery is a western preconception and idyllic stereotype of oriental imagery.  

Victoria Cronin
Victoria Cronin shares her advice on all things Chinoiserie. Image credit │Victoria Cronin

First gaining popularity in Europe during the 18th century, when expanded trade with East Asia and China enabled better access to new cultures, these exotic places remained a fascination to many Europeans; this air of mysticism further increased the popularity and desirability of the style. During the 18th century, Europeans began to manufacture Chinese-style lacquered furniture (Chippendale). Wallpaper became increasingly popular and featured imitation patterns such as pagodas, floral and exotic designs.  

How to use a Chinoiserie style in your home

Chinoiserie wallpaper
Oriental style wallpaper is typical of a Chinoserie look. Image credit │Mind the Gap

Be brave

Go for it with colour and use patterns boldly. If you’re nervous about wallpaper, try a framed piece of chinoiserie artwork or a bold pattern on a smaller upholstered piece, such as an armchair or cushions. When I’m on the hunt for Chinoiserie style in particular, I often start with wall coverings and fabric. De Gournay provides hand-painted silk wall-coverings.  

Don’t be a slave to the style

Take bits and pieces from the genre and mix it with contemporary items to form an eclectic style that suits modern living. 

Be authentic

Do this by only selecting items that you personally love. And be generous with greenery and plants – exotica is also about nature. Within my studio I have produced a range of artwork and prints inspired by Chinoiserie which are perfect to accessorise any timeless oriental inspired interior.  

Items with stories to tell

For original oriental antique and reproduction furniture and ceramics, Daos Den (@DaosDenFurniture) have a wide variety and can also make to order. I do like to buy furniture with history, character and provenance; Dubai’s La Brocante (@LaBrocante) is a perfect place to pick up a piece that is well travelled with a story to tell. Global Village must not be missed as an invaluable source of oriental rugs, ceramics, and fabrics.  

Considering using more colour in your home? Read local designer Jennifer Black’s tips for adding colour pops into your space

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