Why buying Chinoiserie this Year of the Tiger is a good idea

Why buying Chinoiserie this Year of the Tiger is a good idea

As the Chinese celebrate the start of their New Year 2022, the year of the tiger, we take a look at Chinoiserie, a design trend that has been a roaring success since the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chinoiserie is a decorative style that reflects the art and design of the Orient and is sometimes labelled as Chinese style or Chinese antiques. It became popular when trade routes opened up between Europe and Asia for the first time and Western society embraced the trend which is characterised by lacquered finishes, silk, and strong designs with stylised flower and bird motifs.

Eastern influences infiltrated everything from porcelain and painting to fabrics and furniture, while tea-drinking became a hugely popular pastime. At the start of the craze, genuine Chinese artefacts were imported but gradually a new style inspired by the East developed and was called Chinoiserie. There are many fine examples of antique furniture in this gorgeous Eastern style.

European aristocracy revelled in its exoticism. It was the inspiration behind King Louis XIV’s Trianon de Porcelaine at Versailles and Frederick the Great’s Chinese House at Sanssouci. As the appeal and influence of Chinoiserie continued to grow, Thomas Chippendale adapted Chinese lacquer furniture into a hybrid style now called ‘Chinese Chippendale’ and the term ‘fine china’ was adopted to describe porcelain that the Chinese had been producing to a closely-guarded recipe for around 2,000 years.

The popularity of Chinoiserie

The popularity of Chinoiserie means it has rarely been out of fashion and has seen yet another renaissance in the past 12 months, perhaps because of China’s growing trade and economic influence on the West and the publicity surrounding its hosting of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

In design terms, it is also hugely adaptable meaning Chinoiserie design can be incorporated into both traditional and contemporary settings, adding to its timeless appeal.

Epitomising the adaptable nature of the style, this large mid-20th century Chinoiserie black lacquer coffee table would be a striking addition to any sitting room with its painted Oriental scenes and gilt decoration.

This pretty Chinoiserie Whatnot would sit happily in a more formal room and provide an elegant display for ornaments. Popular in 19th Century Victorian homes, this Whatnot with dragon decoration, five fixed shelves, spiral columns and turned finials, is equally at home with the contemporary English country house vibe.

Fresh blue and white china is a timeless classic that has stood the test of time and will add a touch of elegance to any wall, room or dresser. These Chinese export dishes feature a blue and white transfer printed Chinoiserie design.

blue and white china

This classic Chinioserie cabinet is wall hung with good amount of storage space. It features a decorative design of Chinese figures in a pagoda garden landscape.

Chinoiserie cabinet


If Chinioserie isn't your thing, you can always explore the wider Chinese style of furniture. A beautiful Chinese chair or two such as these with pierced dragon splat back will serve well as side chairs and also draw in attention with it’s polished hardwood seats.

chinese chairs


So whether it’s a piece of furniture or an ornament, investing in a statement piece of Chinoiserie is guaranteed to give your home an on-trend look with lasting appeal for many new years, Chinese or otherwise, to come.

Visit our Eastern and Oriental Furniture section to discover more examples of Asian furniture, or view our Full Catalogue to explore everything we currently have in stock. National delivery is available.


February 01, 2022 — Francesca Peterson

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