Anniversary Interview With Chinoiserie Chic

Home Office of Luke and Julie Janklow from Vogue

Happy Third Anniversary to Chinoiserie Chic!  Beth, a lovely friend and the best blogger ever, is celebrating the third anniversary of Chinoiserie Chic today.  I know I'm not alone in being so happy that she does what she does.  Do you adore getting to peruse beautiful Chinoiserie images everyday as much as I?  Beth was lovely to answer the following questions, and her answers are very interesting.

1.  When you first started Chinoiserie Chic, did you have any idea that there were so many Chinoiserie enthusiasts out there?

I think I realized there was an audience, but I think I have had a small part in expanding and focusing that audience. I get so many emails and comments from people saying they have always loved this style but didn't know what it was called or that it even had a name. I created the term "Chinoiserie Chic" for my new blog simply because I liked the "Ch Ch" alliteration, and it is now a part of the interior design vernacular. How cool is that?

I believe that the number of potential Chinoiserie enthusiasts is limitless because it works with literally any style. As an example, I have had two male clients who were not, shall I say, favorably disposed to using Chinoiserie in their bachelor apartments. Now they adore their Chinese lacquered screen, black Chinese porcelain, Chinese horses, and black lacquer furniture that are part of their homes. Chinese emperor portraits and terra cotta warriors happily coexisting with their leather furniture and flat screen televisions. Michael S. Smith is a perfect example of someone who uses a more masculine approach to Chinoiserie.

2.  How and when did your interest in Chinoiserie develop?

My parents' house was mid century Danish modern without a drop of Chinoiserie. I however was always drawn to English antiques, chintz, botanicals, gardening, Chinoiserie, and pink, all of which were bizarre tastes to my parents. I wanted a canopy bed - I got a red wool teak daybed. Now I have the canopy bed. I think I may have been switched at birth.

3.  What is it about Chinoiserie that you think people find most appealing?

It adds instant character, elegance, beauty, style, whimsy, fun, and sophistication to any room and any home. Chinoiserie exudes a joie de vivre - a joy of living that everyone wants to have in their lives.There is a timelessness and universality to it. My grandmother adored Chinoiserie and so does my daughter who is in her twenties and used it in her very first apartment. She and I "fight" over finds at HomeGoods and flea markets. I won out at T.J. Maxx on Sunday when I found a gorgeous Ralph Lauren Home blue and white Chinoiserie lamp for $79.99 that retails for $600.00.

Chinoiserie also has an incredible versatility that allows it to work in virtually any space. I don't think there is any room that could not be made more lovely with a well chosen dose of Chinoiserie. Let's take this wonderful dining room by Grant K. Gibson. The only thing in the room that is Chinoiserie is the collection of blue and white Chinese porcelain, but imagine the room without it.

4.  So many designers incorporate Chinoiserie into their work.  Who are the 3-5 who you think do it best?

I love the worldly sophistication of Alessandra Branca, the Hollywood glamour of Mary McDonald, the Palm Beach colors of Meg Braff, the fearless confidence of Miles Redd, and the timeless elegance of Joe Nye. Joe Nye is probably the closest to my own aesthetic, but all five of these interior designers use Chinoiserie in the most wonderful ways.

5.  You have such a keen eye for detail and an incredible memory.  How have you seen Chinoiserie and interior design change during the last three years?

A change that has delighted and excited me is that Chinoiserie has taken its rightful place in interior design. Can you name a top interior designer who does not use Chinoiserie? - and many subscribe to Chinoiserie Chic! It is hard to find an issue of a shelter magazine that doesn't have rooms with hand painted Chinoiserie wallpaper, blue and white Chinese porcelain, a Chinese garden stool, or a Chinese Chippendale chair. These are not fads. These all go back hundreds of years and are just being reinterpreted in ways that are relevant today.

We are coming up on Mother's Day and I think it is so charming that a grandmother, mother, and daughter can all share a love of Chinoiserie yet use it in their homes in very different ways. Chinoiserie binds us to the past with a historical reference yet is so relevant in interior design today. These three living rooms below, for example could belong to a grandmother, mother, and daughter all of whom love yellow and Chinoiserie.

Happy Anniversary, Chinoiserie Chic!