History of Chairs: Chinese Chippendale
I heart chairs. For reasons yet unknown, my favorite part of a design project is choosing where a tush should rest! It could be the rich history in each style, or the story behind (ahem…) each chair form, or their simple timeless beauty, but chairs seem to be the “little black dress” of furniture and I’m totally obsessed with them. A perfect example of timeless-in-the-LBD-way is the Chinese Chippendale, also known as Chinoiserie, style chair.
Famous furniture maker Thomas Chippendale debuted his latest chair design in the book The Gentleman and Cabinetmaker’s Director, published in 1754. Immediately, the faux-bamboo elements, heavy lacquer and Asian influence was a smash success with the tastemakers of the time.
True early Chinese furniture was bold and linear with little carving. In contrast, the Chinese Chippendale chair carvings are greatly embellished.
The term “chinoiserie” was coined in the late 18th Century and refers to the application of Asian influence to objects and interiors, exploding in popularity as Europeans became enamored with the mystique of the Orient.
In the late 18th Century, Japanning was incredibly popular, which predominantly refers to the art of adding heavy lacquer to an object, which the was a large part of the Chinese Chippendale chair’s allure.
The popularity of chinoiserie lasted through the 1930′s where it became part of the glamorous Hollywood Regency style. Although the popularity of Chinese Chippendale chairs tapered off in the late 30′s/early 40′s, it reemerged in the 1960′s, again retro chic and totally mod!
Chinese Chippendale chairs continue to be popular, adding texture and interest to virtually any style room. They are found in a crayon box array of colors and typically remain lacquered.