Friday, July 31, 2009

Chocolate Brown and Chinoiserie

Like aubergine that we looked at recently, brown is not usually associated with Chinoiserie style, but these ideas might change your mind. The room above by Joe Nye from House Beautiful shows the stunning contrast of the dark brown walls with blue and white Chinese porcelain. These brown foo dogs from Z Gallerie could be your inspiration for a Chinoiserie Hollywood Regency room all done in brown and white.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Anne Harwell & Chinoiserie

Anne Harwell of Annechovie has done a new limited edition piece I know you lovers of Chinoiserie will adore. This stunning collage is a Chinoiserie chair silhouette on a geranium background. I proudly own and display several of Anne's works of art in my own home, and this may be my favorite yet. Chinoiserie and pink-the two most beautiful words I can think of! You can find it here at her Etsy shop.

Chinoiserie Tablescape

This lovely Ruthie Sommers vignette is a great example of so many things we have looked at on Chinoiserie Chic-aubergine, Blanc de Chine, blue and white, and tablescapes. Perhaps it will inspire you. A couple of points to note-the aubergine was introduced with deep purple flowers-here hydrangeas. The collection of white porcelain is not all true Blanc de Chine. Ruthie has included white candlesticks and even some Lenox pieces.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Designers are focusing on aubergine and deep plum in fashion this fall, and I predict this color will have a jump in popularity in the home as well. Colors like aubergine may not leap to mind, yet are perfect in the Chinoiserie room. Aubergine actually has blue, red, green, and yellow in it, so any of these colors work well with it. In this Mario Buatta room above, the colors pop against the lacquered aubergine walls. The black and gold lacquer Chinoiserie secretary is such an elegant choice. Aubergine would work well with many Chinoiserie looks. Celadon fabrics or porcelains would be lovely with aubergine. I would love to use celadon silk taffeta curtains against aubergine walls. Blue and white Chinese porcelain would be wonderful against the dark walls. For a more modern Hollywood Regency look, pair the aubergine with crisp white trim and Blanc de Chine porcelains. If you are looking for a stunning aubergine paint, my favorite is Brinjal by Farrow & Ball.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Chinoiserie Girl's Bedroom

This bedroom has wonderful ideas for a girl's bedroom that is chic and sophisticated, but still pink and girly with great Chinoiserie flair. I love the wall of white bookcases backed in deep pink filled with white covered books and objets. You can find this beautiful aqua with melon bedding called Eve by Serena & Lily at the Well Appointed House. I have added this stunning and unique Coconut Coral Chandelier on sale at Wisteria and this pouf I originally saw featured in Nanette Lepore's home-Blue Tufted Leather Pouf available at Mecox Gardens. Excellent sources for white accessories include Z Gallerie and Jonathan Adler.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Miles Redd's Red Door

For the quickest, easiest, least expensive way to add great Chinoiserie drama and impact to your home, what about a red door? This great idea is from that stunning Manhattan apartment by Miles Redd featured in the July House Beautiful. Miles had the trim painted in faux-horn, but we mortals could skip that step.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Chinoiserie Fireplace

The fireplace is a great spot to show off your love of Chinoiserie. The photos just above and below are from the Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery here in Washington, D.C. The intricate series of latticed shelves and collection of blue and white Chinese porcelain is stunning.

For a non-working fireplace, why not jazz it up with this wonderful Chinoiserie wallpaper called Summer Palace by Osborne & Little and spray paint some logs magenta?

Here are some easy ideas from Kensington Palace. Use some lovely blue and white Chinese porcelain pieces on your mantle or hearth. I personally have a pair of blue and white tulipieres on my mantle and a large pair of blue and white temple jars flanking the hearth.

(Photos courtesy of Flickr)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Calligraphy Brushes

Calligraphy brushes are a great way to add Chinoiserie flair to your tablescapes. Pictured here are two examples from my own home. Click on the photos for greater detail. Be on the lookout in art supply stores, eBay, stores specializing in antique and new Asian furnishings, home furnishings stores, even discount stores-I found all of these at Tuesday Morning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Chinoiserie World of Harrison Howard

There is no artist who captures the essence of Chinoiserie more exquisitely than Harrison Howard. What is that essence? Whimsical, joyful, imaginative, playful, exotic, fanciful, and beautiful. Mr. Howard's murals and watercolors have graced stunning homes across the country including the Royal Saudi Embassy residence, the Vanderbilts, the DuPonts, and the Goodyears. He has worked with the interior design firms of McMillen, Inc., Irvine & Fleming, and Parish-Hadley. Feast your eyes on some of his works in the series Chinoiseries and then read my interview with him. His entire portfolio may be viewed on his website here. Original watercolors as well as giclees which are the highest quality limited edition prints of his work are available for purchase. For a look at his Flower People collection, read this previous post of mine on Style Redux.

Would you mind sending me a few thoughts on 1) how and when you became interested in Chinoiserie, 2) to what you attribute its universal appeal, 3) and your sources of inspiration?

1) I first became interested in chinoiserie when I was about eleven or twelve years old. My father, who was a free lance artist, had a book of designs by Jean Pillement. I had read fairy tales all through my childhood, and Pillement’s designs seemed a great deal like fairy tale illustrations to me. I started looking at things around our house that had some chinoiserie aspect to them and found that there were quite a few. My parents loved antiques, but until then I had never paid much attention to the things in our house.

2) I am not sure that chinoiserie yet has a universal appeal, but it is amazing to me the extent to which chinoiserie as a style has pervaded the design of furniture, fabrics, china, architecture etc., although many people outside the design and art world remain largely unfamiliar with the term and unaware of the extent to which chinoiserie motifs permeate the design of western goods in our own time. I prefer things that way, because I think that trends in design that become over exposed often lead to misuse that contaminates the best qualities that made that genre appealing in the first place. Some of the items I have seen over the years that emulated Diego Giacometti’s plaster and bronze creations stand as a good example for me of that kind of situation.

3) My sources of inspiration for the chinoiserie images that I am now working on stem from literally everything around me. I am inspired by literature, fashion, children’s stories, gardens, architecture, furniture, unusual objects, poems, art movements and many individual artists and illustrators, just about anything in short. When I first started painting chinoiserie subjects I stuck to the usual conventions largely established in the 18th century in Europe, and I thought purely in terms of light hearted, highly decorative, entertaining schemes. It gradually occurred to me that chinoiserie could be used like any other genre to explore an endless number of ideas and themes, and that the imaginary aspects of chinoiserie as a style defy limitations. It still surprises me that much of the design world has stuck rigidly to using chinoiserie motifs in the context in which they were first conceived. While chinoiserie may seem a very unlikely vehicle, I see it as a genre that has the potential to express everything from absurdities and light humor to almost any aspect of society or individual human behavior. There is a lot of room left for thought provoking work within the genre. Its highly decorative and imaginative possibilities offer innumerable opportunities for inventive color combinations, patterns, and compositions. I think chinoiserie will undoubtedly remain a fairly narrow genre, but for my particular set of interests and objectives, it is an entire realm waiting to be explored.