Friday, April 9, 2010


The Baroque period is commonly attributed to the years between 1600 and 1750. The period of design before Baroque, Mannerism, relied heavily on proportion, straight lines and classical detail. The actual meaning of the word Baroque is believed to be from the Portuguese word for 'rough or irregular pearl,' and was commonly used in the time to mean something 'absurd' or 'grotesque.' Although many believe that the design that came out of the Baroque period to be the finest, most people of the time found it to be opulent serving only the egos of the wealthy.

Monarchs throughout Europe were having palaces built in the Baroque style, but none did it with more pomp and circumstance than France's Louis XIV, the 'Sun King,' who reined for 72 years from 1638 to 1715. Louis commissioned the Palace at Versailles to be built in 1661. He appointed decorator Charles Le Brun to create all architectural details and ornamentation for the estate. Le Brun created lavish interiors like had never been seen before. He used thousands of windows and mirrors, both of which were rare and expensive at the time. Crystal chandeliers bejeweled the halls, and lavish paintings adorned the walls and ceilings. Gold gilt work covered carvings and furnishings, and silver was used to cast furniture. Louis had the palace decorated throughout with images of himself as Apollo, the Greek God of the Sun, for he saw himself as a god at the center of the universe.

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles designed by Charles Le Brun

The furniture of the Baroque period was created from the finest materials and was lavishly detailed. The materials used consisted of exotic woods, imported lacquers, marquetry (wood veneers cut and inlaid to create an image), pietra dura (highly polished stones inlaid to create an image), ivory, tortoise shell, silver and gold. The carved details featured curved lines, swags, acanthus, mythological creatures, grotesque, flora and fauna. For the first time, 'fixed' or attached upholstery was used on seat backs and cushions using brass tacks. The fabrics used were the finest brocades, damask, velvets, and leathers.

The most famous furniture maker of the period, and reputedly of all time, was Andre Charles Boulle, official cabinet-maker to Louis XIV. Boulle is attributed to the creation of the bureau and commode amongst other pieces of furniture. Although there exist very few pieces today that can be definitely attributed to him, his designers were published under the title Nouveaux Desseins de Meubles (New Designs of Furniture) which was widely distributed throughout Europe inspiring numerous of pieces in the 'Boulle Style.'

Commode designed by Andre Charles Boulle

Chest designed by Andre Charles Boulle

That was then, this is now...
Although the lavish ornamentation of the Baroque period may never be repeated, many elements of the style influence furniture designers of our time. Today's 'Neo-Baroque' designers are reinterpreting the classics in fresh and exciting ways as shown in the pictures below. Finishes are in bold colors such as lime greens, blues, purples and oranges. Shapes are merged with cubism to create dramatic faceted pieces. Carvings are exaggerated for emphasis. Playfulness is created with whimsical elements such as rhinoceros feet on a credenza, newsprint as the background for a damask inspired wallpaper, or dogs printed on leather for upholstery. Materials of today are being used in inventive ways like rubber chairs in a myriad of colors, and acrylic silhouettes of chairs with printed carvings and upholstery. Lighting has been modified by recreating Baroque shapes in blown glass, and crystal chandeliers have been altered with shades.
These current designs can be used to create dramatic statements as groupings or stand alone pieces in contemporary interiors. As the french say "Plus ça change et plus c'est pareil" (the more things change, the more they stay the same). It is in this spirit that I have collected together the following current designs that I feel truly honor the Baroque Period.

This is the piece that inspired me to write this article, I think that it says it all:

Evolution Credenza from Emmemobili


Louis XV Commode Wine Rack from Axis Form Lab

Diamond Credenza from Boca Do Lobo

Victoria Cabinet from Boca DO Lobo

Plastic Fantastic Small Dressoir from JSPR

Jean Pape Table and Haupt Commode form Smansk Design Studio

Vase Cabinet form Katz

Drawer's Chest from Katz

Decay Bookcase from Katz


Louie Four Poster Bed from Heal's

Charleston Silver Leaf Bed from Graham and Green

Baroque Black Bed from Jimmie Martin

Chateau Bed from Graham and Green


Movelaria Acrylic Dining Table from Limonada

Vendome Glass Dining Table from E Room Service


Louis Ghost Chair from Kartell

Caption Dining Chair from Tom Thomas

Baroque Barstool from Tom Thomas

Damask Arm Chair from DPS

Forever Chair from Jimmie Martin

Sausage Dog Chair from Jimmie Martin

Imperfection Sofa from Jimmie Martin

Cameo Sofa from Jimmie Martin

Plastic Fantastic Sofa from JSPR

Doggie Queen Chair from Teo Jasmin

New York Sunset Settee from Teo Jasmin


Bourgie Lamp from Kartell

Miranda Chandelier from Modani

White Chandelier from Cyan Design

A lamp that the 'Sun King' would be proud of:

Solara 2 Chandelier from ET2


Glamor Bath Fixtures from Eurolegno

Brocade Bath from Aquamass

Heat Wave Electric Radiator from Droog


Purple Baroque Frame Mirror from Klykdeco

Apollo Mirror from Boca Do Lobo

Baroque Wall Shelves from Graham and Green

Newspaper Damask Wallpaper from Designer Wallcoverings

Thug Wallpaper from Designer Wallcoverings

Westwood Wallpaper from Camilla Diedrich


Cut Out Rug from Funky Rugs

New Baroque Rug from Funky Rugs


Queen Of Love Outdoor Chair from Saw Italy

Organic Baroque Chair by Tony Duquette from Baker

For more information on any of the above shown items please contact me at:
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