Chinoiserie, has an enduring allure.
Reinterpreted generation after generation, its origins lie in the 17th century. As trade between East and West blossomed the taste for all things oriental went wild. Europe was hooked on the mystique and opulence of Asian culture.
In the 20th century the fascination with the East was reimagined, most notably perhaps in the Hollywood Regency style of the golden era of cinema that ran from the 1920s-1950s but its influences also featured in Art Deco.
“It is perhaps surprising to learn that even Modernists turned to China as a cultural and aesthetic utopia. As part of Modernism's challenge to the 'universality' of so-called Western values and aesthetics, the turn to China would contribute much more than has been acknowledged to Modernist thinking.” Think Eileen Gray’s love of lacquer and Hans Wegner’s China chair.
The godfather of ‘exotic modernism’ was undoubtably James Mont, an American designer whose distinct style has resulted in a niche following, notably the late David Tang. Mont was renowned for assimilating elements of classical, orientalist, and Art Deco design into a modern sensibility, using the most luxuriant materials available- a style he termed "Chinese Modern". Mont's pieces filled the interiors of the "who's who" in Mid Century America- from East Coast mafiosos to Hollywood's elite.
This past couple of years I’ve observed a renewed interest in the oriental, from interiors to fashion and even to scent. Read on for some of my favourite East meets West treats…