chinoiserie. Article #36. Vol 3, pg 241.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But sometimes imitation goes beyond duplication and leads to the evolution of something entirely new.
That’s the case with the decorative style known as chinoiserie, a French word meaning “in the chinese style”. In early 17th century France, exotic imports from China exploded in popularity. Everyone had to have a Chinese porcelain vase or lacquered table. To meet the great demand, French artisans began creating their own versions of these objects. The French versions didn’t duplicate Chinese objects, but rather created whimsical new designs, inspired by stories of the exotic Chinese.
Chinoiserie evolved into its own style of interior design. Every French nobleman worth his salt built a “Chinese room” in his home, filling it with Chinese-inspired objects. With its asymmetry and fanciful forms, chinoiserie also blended with rococo, which was a reaction against the rigor of the baroque style.
“chinoiserie.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 3, pg 241.