Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Interior Design Styles: Oriental

We have been discussing five design styles used in the interior design world: Traditional, Country, Modern, Exotic and Oriental.

From the September Home Accents Today Anniversary Issue, Kara Cox Describes Oriental design in The Big Trend.

In the world of design, Asian or Oriental style has long cast a spell over the Western world with its air of elegant exoticism and mystery. Always in fashion, this design tour de force sometimes wanes in the interior scene, only to spike in popularity yet again as the season's newest trend. Whatever the current status, this centuries-old theme continues to captivate in settings from classic to contemporary.

Heading back to January of 1987, Home Accents Today spotlighted the Orient Revisited in its market sketchbook. Japanese and Chinese influences blended with upscale flair, accented with subtle ornamentation and shape and materials like rice paper, pine and wicker. In keeping with the mood of the times, the color palette was muted and subdued with soft rose shades and mint green. Later that year, Oriental looks were in the spotlight again with a focus on ornate influences (such as gilding and lacquering) mixed with subtle contempory statements.

The next year, Japanese and Chinese styling was show-cased in deeper, richer palette with stylized patterning, such as flowers, pagodas, birds and kimonos.

Asian styling continued to dominate on the home front until 1990, when it dropped off the scene until 1996. At this time, the overall style took a contemporary turn, focusing on Japanese-inspired designs steadily for the next few years. At the close of the century, the emphasis was firmly planted on the Zen approach to decorating. Serenity and tranquility were key words, a reactive counterpoint to the chaos and upheaval of modern civilization.

By the year 2000, the overwhelmingly Oriental imagery and rice paper looks were gone, replaced by gentle, and even romantic approaches. The calm simplicity and purity of Asian gardens created an understated aesthetic of airiness for the home.

Stepping into the 21st century, Asian looks maintained a low profile for the next few years only to return with a fresh new twist. Albeit uptown, urban, or loft, the Orient underwent a cultural transformation, blending with cosmopolitan designs for a look that could be almost be European or American in its derivation. Whispers of the Orient ratcheted up the sophistication level; these clean-lined designs could be at home in any big city around the world. Following the tone set by the contemporary trend, Japanese designs were more naturally dominant in this time period.

Now with the pendulum swinging in the opposite direction toward refreshed, updated classic design (combined with a strong undercurrent of exoticism) expect to see a movement for 2006 toward Chinese-based styles and embellished, as opposed to Zen, Japanese looks.

Spiffed up and polished down versions of Chippendale chairs and elaborate fretwork motifs are on the horizion, as are lavish, opulent Chinoiserie-style bird and botanical prints, provided they translate into the decadent, yet restrained sensibility that today is calling for.

Given the resiliance of Asian design over the years, there is no doubt the Oriental approach will continue to reinvent itself with style to spare.

This concludes our tour of five design themes that Kara Cox gave us permission to reproduce.

Bev & Mike

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