What is Chinoiserie Decor and Its Furniture?

In this article, we will talk about the history of Chinoiserie decor, characteristics of Chinoiserie furniture and 6 Chinoiserie room design ideas you can use.

What is Chinoiserie?
Chinoiserie (Shin-Wa-Za-Ree) first appeared in the mid 17th century as the European decorative style influenced by the East Asian style. The word "Chinoi" is the French word for "Chinese". The word "Chinoiserie" means Chinese style decorations. However, when we talk about "Chinoiserie", it also includes Japanese style decorations too.

How to Identify Chinoiserie Furniture?
The key characteristics of Chinoiserie furniture can be summarized as below,

- Landscape: The use of landscape such as mountain and river can be found anywhere in all Chinoiserie Furniture and decorative items from the bed to porcelain.

- Animal: There are 2 common animal motifs in Chinoiserie Furniture. The first one is the use of the dragon and phoenix to symbolize the natural harmony. Dragon means the sun or the king and phoenix means the moon or the queen. The second one is the use of a monkey which is one of the animals in the Chinese zodiac. It symbolizes "cleverness" or "wisdom".

- Flower: The most common flower motif is the use of water lily which can be seen on any type of Chinoiserie Furniture.

- Pheasant: The way of life of local pheasant is also popular in Chinoiserie Furniture.

- Color: Each color has a special meaning in Chinese culture. Red means fire, energy, good luck, fortune and joy. Gold means something related to the king and wealth. Blue means relaxation, calmness and a long life.

- Lacquering Technique: Since Europe couldn't produce lacquer by themselves, they imported lacquer made from the Asian lac tree from Japan. Then, lacquering has become a feature of Chinoiserie Furniture.

Ideas for Chinoiserie Decor
We are so sure that you have seen a lot of pictures of Chinoiserie decor design by interior designers on the internet. However, we believe Chinoiserie room like that will cost an arm and a leg. So, this section we've provided some examples Chinoiserie furniture available on Amazon.com and put together 6 Chinoiserie decor ideas as below,

1. Dine Like a Chinese Nobility
This Chinoiserie style dining set is the perfect example of Chinoiserie design. It comes with elegant lacquering and also includes common features of Chinoiserie such as the use of flower and landscape. It's ideal for a big dining room for a large family.

2. Mix Chinoiserie With Retro
This Chinoiserie style coffee table shows you that Chinoiserie style can be an integral part of your room. You can use it together with other retro style furniture to create a chic Chinoiserie decor.

3. Create Peace and Prosperity
This harpsichord style desk with chair demonstrates how to combine western structure with Chinese motifs. This Chinoiserie chair uses very good colors. Red background means joy and luck and gold decorative details mean wealth.

4. Relax with Chinoiserie Blue
This Chinoiserie style blue end table represents relaxation. The floral and bird motif goes very well with the color. Actually, it looks modern enough to turn any room into a Chinoiserie decor.

5. Add an Elegant Center Point
This Chinoiserie style black and gold TV cabinet makes the floral and royal motif paintings really stand out. It's ideal for living room or bed room.

6. Create Privacy in Style
Chinoiserie style screen or room divider like this is still used widely in both Chinese and Japanese homes today. It features Chinese Spring Festival beautifully. The use of black and gold color like this gives this Chinoiserie Furniture the real meaning.

Do you enjoy creating Chinoiserie decor?

- Banham, Joanna, ed. Encyclopedia of interior design. Routledge, 1997.

- Impey, Oliver. Chinoiserie: The impact of oriental styles on Western art and decoration. London: Oxford University Press, 1977.

- de Bruijn, Emile. "Chinoiserie: Commerce and Critical Ornament in Eighteenth-Century Britain." (2015): 210-211.

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Last review and update: September 1, 2018

About the Author

Patty Benjabutr is an interior design enthusiast. She loves to write about actionable home decor knowledge because she believes interior design content is something much more than a collection of beautiful photos. You can contact Patty via e-mail.