Chinoiserie: A Confection of Style
The fashion for Asian art as a decorative style known as chinoiserie, the French word meaning “in the Chinese taste”, signifies that chinoiserie did not come directly from Asia but is instead a European interpretation of Asian culture and decorative arts. The movement originated in the 17th century, in parallel with Europe’s flourishing trade with China and South Asia. Europeans had long been intrigued by what they viewed as exotic Asian cultures. In colonial America, the chinoiserie style manifested itself in lavishly painted interiors, woodworks, furniture, ceramics, silverwork, textiles, and paintings. People eager to show off their worldly interests fueled an almost insatiable demand for exotic products from the East. Four Hundred years after the movement originated, some of today’s most renowned designers are reinventing the chinoiserie style, reinterpreting it in fresh colorways, proportions or materials to make it as relevant today as it was centuries ago. The 2018 Washington Winter Show, “The Charm of Chinoiserie”, will explore how this confection of style has kept the world of decorative arts intrigued, and inspired, for centuries.