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The Oldest New Trend to Hit the Design World

26th October 2018

Chinoiserie design fever is spreading as more and more designers are journeying East for inspiration. An exciting new collaboration between GP & J Baker and H&M is currently showcasing the magic that can happen when interiors and fashion unite.

A strong oriental influence across both industries is reviving some of the world’s most ancient designs. This crossover is resulting in spectacular new collections infused with oriental style for both your wardrobe and your home.

Chinoiserie Design Inspiration:

Auspicious symbols that have featured in East Asian costumes and art for centuries, continue to captivate us in the West. We marvel at their beauty and incorporate them into our own fashions. 

There's more to these designs than meets the eye, as each has a symbolic meaning. Originating from ancient cosmological and mythical beliefs, these symbols are readily understood by Chinese, Japanese, Korean & Taiwanese people. Their existence and nuances remain an intrinsic part of people's daily lives.

Read on to discover the meanings behind these beautiful symbols. There's also new Chinoiserie designs to discover for both your wardrobe and your home.

Chinoiserie Style

Dragons: 龍 / 용

The ultimate status symbol, the dragon represents power, strength and enlightenment. Ranked top among mythical beasts, its form is commonly seen across Eastern Asia. It decorates temple rooves and is seen dancing during national celebrations such as Chinese New Year.

During the days of Imperial China, Emperors would wear robes adorned with embroidered dragons to assert their high distinction and status as ruler. Japanese Samurai warriors wore decorative armour featuring dragons as an emblem of their masculine power and force. Nowadays, people who are thought of as 'excellent' or 'outstanding' are commonly compared to dragons by way of a compliment.

Often designed in rich and vibrant colours, the dragon will make a bold statement that can’t be ignored. Its fluid body and enchanting shape adds movement to designs and is ideal for Chinoiserie fabrics.

Whether in embroidery or print, vivid colours or muted hues, dragons make a statement. They have been adopted by both high street and designer brands.

Although it is one of the oldest symbols, these designs look great in modern interiors. The heavenly clouds and blossoming flowers create a magical world for the dragon to exist within and each is like a unique work of art. Be daring and choose a large-scale design that shows off these magnificent creatures in all their glory. We know you will be thrilled with the result...

Birds: 鳥 / 새

In East Asia, birds signify freedom, happiness and new opportunity. They are powerful symbols and each type of bird has its own influence and virtue.

The most prevailing is the Phoenix; the king of the winged kingdom. Having little in common with the mythical Egyptian bird, it symbolises justice, benevolence and loyalty. For generations, people in China have named their children ‘Feng’ (Phoenix) in the hope that they become just as magnificent as its symbol.

Another popular bird is the graceful Crane. Offering a striking architectural shape with its long neck and broad wing span, it is very prominent in East Asian art and textiles.

Symbolising longevity and wisdom, it’s white feathers are said to represent old age and it is fabled to have a life span of a thousand years. During imperial times, its motifs were used on the robes of civil officials to signify their rank.

Oriental birds are timeless classics that suit both modern and traditional homes. They withstand the changing of fashions over time.

They evoke the feeling of weightlessness as they swoop effortlessly across curtain fabric or perch gracefully upon a feature wallpaper. They also add a touch of feminine elegance and grace to a home. 

Flowers: 花 / 꽃

East Asia’s love affair with flowers is as powerful now as ever, and their symbolic meanings are great and many. Commonly seen alongside other symbols such as birds and animals, both their beautiful designs and complimentary symbolism has made them the most popular motif used in oriental design.

The highly profiled Peony has become something of an East Asian motif in the West, and its popularity emulates its powerful symbolic meaning. Representing royalty and virtue, it is often referred to as the King of the Flowers and is widely used to mark significant wealth and honour.

Another well-known Asian emblem is the fragile cherry blossom. Often likened to the colour of a woman’s lips, the Chinese associate it with the beauty of youth. Similarly, in Japan it represents the fragility and beauty, and acts as a reminder that life is overwhelmingly beautiful, yet short.

Like its varieties, the Hibiscus has several symbolic meanings. In Japan, it means gentle and is often given to visitors in order to show friendly intentions. Whereas, in South Korea the ‘Mugunghwa,’ has been adopted as the nation's flower. Translating as 'an eternal blossom that never fades' and is often used as a symbol of immortality.

Another especially important flower is the Chrysanthemum which can be found across East Asia. It symbolises the desire for a long life and happiness. It is commonly featured on clothing and jewellery, and is a popular gift for loved ones. Famed for its health-giving properties, Chrysanthemum-petal tea is a popular drink for those looking for such wishes.

East Asian inspired florals are a fantastic way to inject colour and joy in to your interior scheme. There's such a variety of shape and form, from delicate blossoms to large explosive blooms. They look especially fabulous as feature wallpapers, adding a positive energy to lift your mood.

Available in such a variety of designs, East Asian florals can span many interior styles from traditional country sitting rooms to outrageously eclectic bathrooms. The most wonderful thing about them is that their beauty will never fade.


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