Live Gorgeous with Modern European Style Furniture
- April 5, 2017
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One of the most compelling and influential trends of our times–European style stands out for its rich cultural heritage and celebration of diversity. European style furniture is the choice to opt for if you prefer classy-exquisite home interiors.
European style furniture is for those who fancy chic living room and bedroom furniture pieces and love making a subtle yet sharp style statement. No other style speaks of artistry, drama and sophistication with sensuous richness as this does. The word eclectic perfectly suits as a synonym to European style famous for its gorgeous ensemble. If you are new to this daddy of styles and looking to own European design furniture, read on. In this post I will help you identify the different types of European furniture–history and evolution, what makes each unique and what’s in trend so you can make a well informed choice.
The Great European Connection
Most furniture styles we see around today have a European connection. It all started in the 15th century with The Renaissance era followed by Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Victorian and finally Modern style in the 20th century. Each era saw artistic innovations and variety in terms of style as per geography. Starting in Italy, it spread around Europe and later with time influenced furniture designs in England as well. Such diverse and progressive contribution over the ages shaped furniture, gradually leading to the advent of what we popularly refer today as modern European furniture.
Originally, European furniture was all about classical styles focused on lavish decoration, intricate detailing with attention to precision of form, proportion and function. But with time furniture design evolved, transforming into what there are today. Here is a quick look at seven most influential styles of the bygone times–their characteristics and design attributes that shaped modern European style furniture:
1. Italian Renaissance was full of rich hand carvings and ornamentation, marquetry artwork depicting floral patterns, major use of ivory and metal inlays and wide usage of classical motifs involving egg and dart and acanthus leaf.
2. French Renaissance saw the introduction of Goth form and design. Large size dressers became a norm and their supports usually carried carvings of caryatids (human figures). Removable table tops were in vogue and often had carved human figures or griffins for supports.
3. Tudor Style (Goth influenced) showcased large and heavy pieces, chairs featured frame panels topped with Linenfold carvings, tables had horizontal stretchers joining their legs at floor level, large sized bulbous table legs, bedposts with bulbs, arabesque carvings and marquetry artwork depicting floral and chequer patterns.
4. Baroque featured very ornate and exaggerated style having sculptural features, S and C-scrolls, large and symmetrical in form, high back chairs, squared legs wearing curved or diagonal stretchers and marquetry artwork depicting famed events.
5. Rococo specialised in delicate and feminine designs, small in proportion, svelte legs, curvaceous and arabesque forms, scrolls and shells, focus on asymmetry and ornamentation, featured organically designed seats with wider arms, soft colours were the preference.
6. Neoclassical unlike others came to have several styles to it, namely:
-Georgian: Featured airy, delicate and symmetrical forms with chairs having a distinctive serpentine line running from the leg into a hoop or backrest.
-Louis XVI Style: Masculine in style with preference to symmetrical form. Featured straight legs with backrests being either round or rectangular shaped.
-Directoire: A transition between Louis XVI and Empire styles, it featured elongated shaped pieces marked with clear, angular lines and ornamentation which were of Roman influence.
-Empire: Grandiose in form, featured light colours and gilding. Heavy use of theatrical and militaristic motifs including Egyptian symbols, lion’s legs, swans and vultures. Chairs usually featured rolled, horizontal backs with opened arms.
-Regency: Decoration were lighter with emphasis on classical themes. Dining tables featured round ends and were extendable. The famed Trafalgar chair for instance featured elegant lines sweeping from back into the rear legs giving it its distinctive look.
-Biedermeier: The main highlights were simplicity and elegance with furniture design being sober, grain of the wood served as main element in ornamentation. Surfaces were smoother and polished with minimum carvings.
7. Victorian era was the phase of revival and reproduction of previous styles like Gothic, Tudor and Neoclassical as well as mix of several types merged in one. It was an age of hybrids. Function took prominence over ornamentation and furniture grew bigger, plusher and heavier with extensive use of wood and upholstery.
The Twist of Time
Change is inevitable and furniture too experienced it in terms of style, form and making. What earlier skilled artisans handmade came to being mass produced courtesy rise of the industrialisation age. Right when furniture style appeared to be stuck in a state of limbo (Victorian-esque), The Arts and Crafts Movement (1860s) happened. Bringing a refreshing tide of change. It promoted handcrafted furniture, marking the beginning of modern furniture. Functionality and practicality took centre stage while featuring minimum ornamentation, natural flowing forms and colours. It took inspiration from Gothic style.
But, its Art Nouveau (1890 – 1910) that stirred things up–pioneering a design movement which broke itself from the clutches of Victorian era designs. Going on to become the first successful and original 20th century modern style inspired by acclaimed European designs, which also set the foundations of modern European furniture. Art Nouveau promotes two methods: curvy lines and plain-functional linear style. A close look at this style’s characteristics reveal long, curvy lines, use of whiplash motif and vertical lines for effect of height.
Dawn of Modern Furniture
Unlike any other time, 20th century gave rise to both functionalistic and expressionistic designs. The core objective of modern furniture: form follows function. Design needed to offer maximum comfort irrespective of using minimum materials. As a result there was a shift from ornamental design to more natural forms with focus on geometrical and oblique angles. That said here are the most popular movements and styles worth acquainting yourself with. Some are making a comeback and few have come to be hot favourites in our times–ones you should likely consider for your home.
Art Deco (1910 – 1935)
This style derives characteristics and subtleties of Art Nouveau with influences of Cubism, Egyptian and African art. It’s main characteristics: angular shapes featuring geometrical patterns and eye-catching zigzag design. Art Deco is all about decorative styling. Think glitz and glamour and over-the-top decoration. Picture The Great Gatsby movie.
Bauhaus (1920 – 1935)
Bauhaus style works on the principle emphasising art and craft should work hand in hand. Promoting balance of aesthetic design and utility, unifying form and function (design and technology) and avoiding needless ornamentation. Example: easy to manufacture lightweight tubular structures made of bent steel. Cue modern industrial design.
Scandinavian (1930 – Present)
Scandinavian style, one of the growing trends today it stands for harmony. Characterises simplicity and minimalism centred around functionality with focus on space and light and understated elegance. It’s a marriage of modern-practical ideas with natural materials. Clean lines, lean-leggy and aesthetically designed (bent wood highlights) pieces are major attributes of Scandinavian style.
Pop and Op Art (1950 – 1960)
This style was ambitious and futuristic in its design language, which clearly focused on space age forms. Pop and Op Art produced capsule and pod-shaped pieces including popular S and egg shaped furniture. Simply put, Pop and Op Art style was about breaking conventionalism. Furniture wore bright and bold colours and usually were made of plastic or bamboo.
Minimalism (1960 – Present)
Minimalist style purely focuses on clarity, purpose and intentionality of a design. A hot favourite of our times, this style works on the principle of less is more and strictly adheres to the form follows function directive. Inspired by Japanese furniture which promotes calm, peaceful and Zen-like qualities–minimalist style is about beauty and peace achieved through balance and simplicity. Major characteristics involve furniture with clean lines, flat surfaces, generous use of rectangular shape and pieces that usually sit low.
A noteworthy point to remember is the above listed modern styles are the progeny of classical European design furniture. What we see in lifestyle commercials or online furniture shopping stores are its evolved and modern day interpretations. And, in line to their origins stay true on being aesthetically gorgeous and pleasantly functional, graced with character and personality. It won’t be out of context to conclude modern European style furniture make worthy investment pieces and ones fit to be passed on to future generations.
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