|This article appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of Blueprints, a publication of The South Central Chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). It quotes Donald St.Pierre of Silk Road Collection. Read the plain text article below.
Behind the Chinese Screen:
Many designers have said, "I love Chinese and Asian furniture and accessories, but my clients are hesitant." However, Asian accents may actually be the key in "WOW"ing them with your design - setting you apart from your competitors. Beyond the esthetic reasons, there may be psychological reasons to incorporate Asian elements into designs for your clients.
When to Include Asian Furniture and Accents
For most people, an antique carved Chinese folding screen is beautiful and functional. The Western love affair with Chinese style began in the early 17th century. Asian and Chinese furniture and accessories became popular in Western style and design when Europeans began colonizing and trading with Asia. Exquisite lacquered furniture and blue-and-white porcelains were imported from China and Japan. Trendsetting furniture designers starting incorporating the Chinese style with their European style - hence we have chinoiserie.
Today, Asian-inspired furniture and accessories are surging in popularity. Successfully used as focal points and accents, Asian beautifully harmonizes with any style-contemporary to classic. But look behind the beauty of that Chinese screen or any other Chinese furniture to actually see what else may be going on in your client's psyche.
Some of your clients may select a Chinese folding screen only for its design esthetics and style. But many of your other clients will choose the screen because it emotionally speaks to them.
Donald St.Pierre, the owner of Silk Road Collection, specializes in antique Chinese furniture. He says, "The majority of people visiting my shop or web site and purchasing my furniture tell me they have a love of travel. When they share their travel stories, I hear the passion in their voices and the experiences of their stories. I think these customers travel seeking to better understand other people and cultures. They embrace multi-cultural traditions, diversity and style. And in the tradition of the 17th century Europeans, they psychologically desire to incorporate other cultures and artifacts into their present-day lives."
"This incorporation is not to impress others with their travels, but instead to feed and reinforce their own core values. Every time they see their "psychological souvenir" they receive positive reinforcement and a feeling of "WOW" about the piece and about themselves."
St.Pierre goes on to say, "I am not a psychologist, sociologist or designer. But I know what I hear from people and I know my customers. To be honest, I am one of these people. Every time I see my thangka from Nepal, my clay bowl from Honduras, or my painted chest from China, I get excited."
Your client wants his or her interior space to be a reflection of how they see themselves. Having a piece of antique Chinese furniture, or an Asian accent, reinforces the client's view of himself or herself as a worldly, traveled, cosmopolitan individual. They are seeking a space that reinforces their view of themselves. When they walk into such a space, emotionally they feel at home.
Notice if your client has collections of objects from around the world. If so, then your client loves to travel. Then he or she is may be very excited to incorporate Chinese and Asian furniture into their design. Offer them Chinese and Asian furniture and accessories as options. The pieces will speak to them on many different levels - esthetic and emotional.
Afterwards, every time they come home and see your design work, complete with Chinese accents, you will "WOW" them again and again and again.