Chinoiserie Furniture and Design

Chinoiserie simply means furniture or a particular style of interior design which is characterised by the use of Chinese motifs and designs. The word Chinoiserie has its roots in the French language, originating from the word ‘chinois’ which means ‘in the style of Chinese taste’. Chinoiserie has existed since the 17th and 18th centuries when trade routes opened between Europe and China, encouraging a deep and long-lasting Western fascination for Chinese design. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the elegant world of Chinoiserie furniture; exploring how this enduring design trend continues to influence furniture and interiors, whilst looking at ways in which it continues to have an impact on current styles.

The origins of Chinoiserie

As already mentioned, Chinoiserie originated in the 17th century during the age of exploration when European traders and explorers returned home with goods and tales from East Asia. These exotic stories and artefacts sparked a fascination with Chinese culture and aesthetics among the European elite, leading to the creation of Chinoiserie.

The style is characterised by its use of playful imagery, intricate designs, and vibrant colours, all of which mimic Chinese art and design principles but are interpreted from a European viewpoint. The hallmark of Chinoiserie design includes motifs such as dragons, pagodas, bamboo, and lotus flowers, often set against lush landscapes or scenes of daily life in what was imagined to be the Far East. These motifs were applied to a wide range of decorative arts, including wallpaper, porcelain, textiles, and furniture. Despite its origins in a European interpretation of Chinese culture, Chinoiserie was less about accuracy and more a fantasy image of the Orient, blending imagination with elements of Chinese design to create something entirely new and highly stylised.

Chinoiserie in Contemporary Interiors

In contemporary interiors, Chinoiserie can add a touch of elegance, charm, and sophistication. It is a versatile style, and able to complement both traditional and modern decor. For a subtle look, try Chinoiserie-patterned cushions, a statement vase, or a piece of wall art. If you’d like to make a bolder statement, Chinoiserie wallpaper or a large piece of furniture, such as a Chinese cabinet or screen adorned in these motifs, can transform a space.

The key to using Chinoiserie in modern interiors is balance; its rich patterns and colours can become overwhelming if overused. When paired with neutral tones and clean lines, Chinoiserie elements can create a focal point that is both striking and harmonious, bringing together classical opulence and contemporary design.

A Chinoiserie Cabinet for Your Home?

At Shimu, our passion for Chinese history and culture is reflected in our exquisite range of original Chinese antique furniture and decorative items. These pieces, each with its own unique story, offer a tangible connection to the past through the spirit and craftsmanship of ancient China. Our collection of antiques is carefully curated to include a variety of pieces that will resonate with the aesthetic sensibilities of Chinoiserie and offer a wide range of beautiful and authentic representations of traditional Chinese art and design.

Our original Chinese antique furniture, from ornately carved cabinets to elegant console tables, showcase the intricate details and sophisticated designs that have influenced the Chinoiserie style. These antiques are sourced with respect for their historical significance and beauty, ensuring that each piece brings a sense of timelessness and a layer of cultural depth to contemporary interiors.

Here at Shimu, we aim to bridge the gap between the traditions of Chinese craftsmanship and the contemporary appeal of Chinoiserie. Our antique furniture and decorative items enhance the aesthetic of modern homes whilst paying homage to the enduring legacy of Chinese art and design. By integrating these historical pieces into today's interiors, we offer an opportunity to create spaces that are both culturally rich and stylistically diverse, embodying the true essence of Chinoiserie.

Chinoiserie at Shimu

We are proud to be amongst the UK's leading specialists in Chinese antique and oriental furniture, offering a collection that beautifully captures the essence of Chinoiserie. Our range combines traditional craftsmanship with the modern aesthetics of contemporary interiors. Our Classical Chinese furniture, handcrafted in reclaimed elm wood, showcases the intricate designs and vibrant colours that are characteristic of Chinoiserie. Each piece, from our delicately carved tables to our elegantly lacquered cabinets, reflects the enduring beauty of Chinese craftsmanship and design.

Beyond furniture, our collection includes a wide array of oriental lighting, giftware, and home accessories, each reflecting unique elements of Chinese design. Traditional motifs such as dragons, bamboo, and lotus flowers, set against scenes of imagined Far Eastern landscapes, bring an exotic elegance to any space. Whether it's through a statement sideboard adorned with Chinese patterns or a subtle accessory that hints at the mystique of the Orient, we offer a beautiful selection, perfect for those looking to infuse their homes with the charm and sophistication of Chinoiserie.

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