I confess. I have never been to China. In fact, the closest I have come is hosting an international student from outside of Shanghai. And he prefers to go by his Western name, Toby! So what is it with my fascination with Chinoiserie? Let’s start with understanding that Chinoiserie is not simply Chinese style or aesthetic, but a Western interpretation thereof. It is a very romantic portrayal of a distant culture.
This Asian influence can be seen in both furniture and architecture. The highly influential English cabinetmaker, Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779), boldly borrowed Chinese motifs and incorporated them in his own designs.
And founding father, Thomas Jefferson, used clearly Chinese-inspired detailing in the balustrades at his home at Monticello.
Today, the decisive patterns inherent in Chinoiserie, lend themselves to both traditional and contemporary interiors. The clear geometries that we associate with the style can be abstracted to create more updated designs.