It sounds like a fancy word doesn’t it, Chinoiserie? It comes from the French word chinois, or “Chinese,” capturing the style of Chinese and East Asian traditions, from decor to music. If you’ve ever overlooked those oriental style dogs (Foo dogs) over at Grandma’s then think again. These are a coveted item, and one at the heart of the Chinoiserie trend.
The look is not directly derived from Asia but is instead a European take on Asian culture and decorative arts. Here’s a speedy history lesson, it originated in the 17th Century when people were inspired by the exoticism of these far flung places. Not being able to travel there, the design started to filter into homes. It was a style that complemented the lavishly rococo (baroque) designs everyone wanted at the time. If you look at stately homes or palaces you’ll see chinoiserie in many a room as monarchs and the aristocracy loved the look.
Not that we want to think about Autumn/Winter just yet, we do get excited by the new styles coming into play and Chinoiserie is one of them. This is an interior style we’ve loved for a long time, from bamboo furniture to foo dogs and blue and white ceramics.
Let’s take a look at some inspiration and a quick guide on how to get the Chinoiserie look in your home.
How to get the Chinoiserie Look
The Chinoiserie look is a versatile trend that can can be interpreted in many different ways, and complement most interior styles from traditional to modern. You can approach it dramatically, like this super chic traditional living room:
In comparison, this beachy dining room shows how the Chinoiserie look can be used in almost any decor scheme.
Materials & Furniture
Faux bamboo and lacquered wood are the two sure fire ways to add a touch of chinoiserie to a room. The high gloss finish of traditional Asian pieces uses techniques learnt over thousands of years. It is actually achieved through layers of tree sap. Intricate designs are often painted over the top. Our favourite detail is the faux bamboo look which can be used in furniture, mirrors, and photo frames.
You don’t have to go full throttle, but small elements of this look can be added. Just like in this stylish bathroom here with the faux bamboo unit and blue and white ceramics:
This dining room adds a subtle Chinoiserie with white bamboo dining chairs. We adore the criss cross pattern of these, a detail which adds endless style.
Decor Must Haves
People started to replicate Chinese porcelain, to re-create the “ming style” blue and white patterns on to tea sets, jars and vases. This is a coveted look, found in interiors of many different styles today. Ginger jars were originally made to hold just that, ginger and other spices in ancient China. But once imported to Europe they became a decorative accent, and have now become a stylish classic.
Foo dogs are a favourite of ours and if you’ve spotted them in a charity shop or at Grandad’s then swipe them whilst you can. Foo dogs date back thousands of years to Imperial China. Despite being named as dogs, they are in fact lions, used to guard palaces and temples. Foo dogs are usually found in pairs, one male and one female representing the yin and yang. Go bold with bright colours and style on a sideboard.
Chinoiserie began to filter into wallpaper designs with floral motifs and lavish garden scenes. Perfect for a luxury dining room, or adding a touch of oriental to your living room. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a obviously oriental, this laundry room uses the blue and white from classic ginger jars as main inspiration, with this De Gournay wallpaper setting a very chic chinoiserie feel.
Pagodas actually originated in India, but are more recognised in East Asian architecture. Pagodas can be interpreted in many ways through grand furniture like four poster beds and pagoda inspired lighting.
Dragon motifs symbolise strength and luck, and have a big place in Chinese mythology. There are some pretty cool dragon patterns around which add a touch of drama to interiors.
Chinoiserie is a timeless style that we’ll certainly be using in our homes forever. It’s a look used by many famous interior designers in contemporary traditional interiors with a cool exotic twist.