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What is Chinoiserie?

Chinoiserie is a western European style of decorative art that first began appearing in the 17th century and has persisted in popularity to this day. It shares many elements with French rococo style such as heavy use of ornamentation or decoration, stylized nature, gilding, and overall extravagance. However, the most signature quality of Chinoiserie is the use of fantasized imagery derived from western interpretations of life, art, and culture in pre-industrial China.

The style became widely popular in the 18th century largely as a by-product resulting from increased trade in Europe with China and east Asia. Fascination with the eastern world reached a peak during this time, which from a western perspective was viewed as exotic and unexplored creative ground.

How to Pronounce Chinoiserie?

People who are unfamiliar with the term are often curious about the correct pronunciation. The word is French in origin, and “Chinois” translates literally to “from China”. Phonetically it sounds like “chin” - “wah” - “zerie”. For English speakers, there is a tendency to see the word “noise” (like a loud or unpleasant sound) in the spelling of Chinoiserie when it is read. This is likely what leads to its most common mispronunciation.

Chinoiserie Interior Design

Within interior design circles in the US, there have been prolonged periods in which Chinoiserie was extremely popular. From the 19th century to the later 1920s, it was very favored among the elite for its highly ornate and sometimes over the top aesthetic. It saw a resurgence in the 80s and 90s, and now seems to be in favor again, though some would argue that it never fell out of favor. Whatever the case, it is evident that Chinoiserie has stood the test of time and is a style that transcends trends and fads.

Chinoiserie design motifs can be seen in everything from wallpaper, upholstery, fine china, ceramics, and even furniture. Imagery like idyllic rural Chinese landscapes, pagodas, traditional courtyards, and dragons are commonly featured. For more examples of Chinoiserie furniture, Chinoiserie porcelain, and other asian home decor, browse our featured sections below.

red chinoiserie floor screen

Hand painted floor screens are a common Chinoiserie decorative element.

chinoiserie secretaire desk

Elaborate and ornate decoration is a hallmark of Chinoiserie furniture.

Chinoiserie Furniture

Our collection of Chinoiserie furniture features lavish gold accents and hand painted landscapes set on either red or black matte. Browse floor screens, sideboards, desks, vanity cabinets, and more.

Chinoiserie Scenery French Commode with Granite Top

Chinoiserie Scenery Commode with Granite Top

Red Queen Anne Chinoiserie Scenery Motif Accent Chair

Red Chinoiserie Scenery Motif Accent Chair

Chinoiserie Scenery Motif Jewelry Armoire

Chinoiserie Scenery Motif Jewelry Armoire

Chinoiserie Ceramics

Our store features one of the largest collections of blue and white porcelain and other chinese decor available on the web. Browse figurines, planters, vases, bowls, and more.

Blue and White Porcelain Qing Emperor Set

Blue and White Porcelain Qing Emperor Set

Blue and White Porcelain Temple Vase

Blue and White Porcelain Temple Vase

Blue and White Porcelain Peony Motif Fishbowl Planter

Blue and White Porcelain Peony Fishbowl Planter

Date Published:

Publisher: China Furniture and Arts Enterprises Inc.