French for “chinese-esque”, chinoise or chinoiserie wallpaper is inspired by art and design elements from China and the East through a European perspective. Dating back to the 17th century, the style was favoured by European monarchs, like Louis XV of France, and other nobles who decorated entire rooms with this exquisite style of wallpaper. Floral and natural landscapes were often hand-painted and imported from China, depicting whimsical murals of exotic birds or blossoms in a flitting garden scene. Today, even a chinoiserie-style print, lamp, carpet, or seat can immensely enhance a space and add an air of old-world charm to a room.
Tara Taghadous, from the regional Middle East office for the wallpaper and mural company Paul Montgomery Studio, describes how chinoiserie is still a favorite in the world of interior design. “There is something about it in our distant humanity that we subconsciously recognize as the most comfortable background for our lives,” he says. “Trees, flowers, and even birds blend into a Garden of Eden that still decorates our lives to this date. It has been reinterpreted in innumerable ways and will always be a favorite in design.”
The intricate and enduring designs of chinoiserie are as timeless as they are endless, and their vibrant splashes of color are often used to accentuate fresh and modern spaces. Today, celebrities and fashion designers alike have taken a liking to the style, from Tory Burch and Anna Sui to Bergdorf Goodman’s restaurant in New York.
“Chinoiserie decoration has the unique feature of combining real elements with fantasy,” Taghadous tells Savoir Flair. “In short, it’s fun and pretty. Chinoiserie also has the unique ability to look right at home with many different decorating styles.”
Read on to discover his three expert styling tips to incorporate this trend into your home.
Tip 1: “Chinoiserie can be used in large-scale wallpapers and murals, a few panels can be framed as art pieces, or the print can be scattered amongst fabrics, carpets, lamps, and many surfaces to create a layered look. Contrasting colors will create a bold, lively effect in your home.”
Tip 2: “Antiqued silver metal wallpaper invokes understated elegance. Use the plain paper on ceilings, but with maybe a bird or butterfly to enhance the mural effect. This effect is stunning in small spaces, as well as focal walls.”
Tip 3: “Use bright colors such as lavenders, pinks, and golds for a youthful and enlivened effect.”