>> May 15, 2013
The term French Furniture includes three distinct design groups, Royal, Parisian and Provincial. Characterised by the elegance of a bygone era, these styles are steeped in history. Fortunately, they remain available today. Like all great art, the appeal of French furniture is timeless.
French Royal Furniture
Mies van der Rohe's 20th century philosophy of 'less is more' doesn't apply to French Royal furniture design. Minimalism was a future concept. Elaborate and sophisticated, the FrenchRoyal style was spurred on by the foundation of the Manufacture Royale des Gobelins in the 17th century. While known for the production of tapestries, they also produced the furnishings for royal palaces. In the Parisian factory, under the direction of the minister of finance, a variety of craftsmen created beautiful furnishing for the Royal Palaces. The expert silversmiths and cabinet makers worked together to create exquisitely turned furniture inlaid with intricate patterns.
French Parisian Furniture
The aristocracy and the wealthy desired to emulate their sovereigns. However, the French Parisian style, the designer French furniture of its day, was similar in design and filled the niche. It allowed ordinary people to furnish their chateaux with high quality, luxurious furniture. Perhaps, like today, society wanted role models and, at the time, Royalty set the trend. Whether it was interior design, pastimes or even what appeared on the French menu, society looked to the kings and queens. By the first half of the 17th century, Paris had become the centre of luxury furniture design. The French Parisian style had become a major touchstone of the developing decorative arts movement. The influence of furniture from this classical period spread throughout Europe and Russia. It was particularly sought after in Great Britain.
French Provincial Furniture
The French Provincial furniture, although less intricate and elaborate than former styles, was distinctive. It was manufactured at various locations including Orleans and Blois in the Loire Valley and Lyon in the south-east of the country. Its features often included cabriole legs, simple scalloped carving and a wheat motif in recognition of the rural surroundings of its maker. The wooden dining chair with ladder back and woven rush seat is typical of the style. As innovations in style and manufacture, including designer French furniture developed, the French Royal style flowed into the Parisian style. This pattern continued until eventually, what was once the privilege of the hierarchy materialised in the provinces.
Original pieces of classic French furniture command prices far beyond the average budget. But, fortunately, for those who want to furnish their homes with classic French pieces there is a solution. Designers such as Juliette's Interiors Ltd can provide information on what's available. With a range of designer French furniture to suit all room layouts and dimensions, there is something to suit everyone. Those who wish to utilise this style in their homes can choose from collections by international designers to give their contemporary lifestyles a touch of continental chic.
The Author has lived in France for ten years and has experience of continental interior design. She is particularly interested in French furnishings and decoration. She writes extensively on home and lifestyle issues. When sourcing information on French furniture she often makes reference to and suggests that readers also visit this page.