How Chinese design has influenced western kitchens and bathrooms

With Chinese New Year being celebrated on February 5th, when the Year of the Pig will commence, Cean Irminger, creative director at New Ravenna, was inspired to take a look at the influence of Chinese design in western culture. There are several elements of Chinese design that have been interpreted by artisans, bringing the colours and culture of the Far East into our homes…

As Dutch and British merchants explored the Silk Road trade routes into Asia, examples of China’s “exotic” decorative arts begun filtering into the Netherlands and England. The Dutch started importing Chinese porcelain in the early 17th century followed by the British about eighty years later. Dutch Delftware was the first interpretation of Chinese porcelain – the fresh blue and white colour combination we now identify as “delft” is a reflection of the simplicity in design, which moves easily between traditional and contemporary interiors. Blue and white is a soothing, effortless combination, it speaks of brisk Northern European climates as well as warm Mediterranean beaches. As a decorative motif, it works for both kitchen and bath, as the color blue’s strongest association is that of water.



The addition of white to a blue palette ensures a crispness that saves a country kitchen or a spa inspired bath from sentimentality. Whether represented in paint, appliances, tile or textiles, delft inspired rooms will radiate freshness. In hand crafted glass mosaic, delft iconography is limited only by your imagination. From oysters to windmills, to tulips and egrets, delft inspired backsplashes and walls can illustrate the story of your family’s life, including a beloved pup.

Another classic design that owes its provenance to China is chinoiserie. As exploration and trade to China increased in the 18thcentury, a fascination with the arts and culture of China ensued. Although blue and white remained a popular combination, brilliant colored chinoiserie style items were created in every material imaginable to adorn walls, dinnerware, furniture, and the gilded accessories of aristocrats.  Chinoiserie became a western interpretation of Asian culture and the decorative arts. It was a way to illustrate languorous daily life, either imagined or real, with luxurious gilded embellishments.

Gold in Chinese culture signifies wealth, and paired with the rococo style favored by the monarchy, the glint of gold was often included. Chinoiserie is a style that has endured for hundreds of years because of its elegance and ability to be customized. Whether de Gourney wallpapers, a painted mural, or mosaic tile installation, the very essence of chinoiserie is to replicate meaningful scenes from nature and life.  

A Chinoiserie inspired bath needs materials that can also absorb wet conditions. Both marble and glass tolerate water and are ideal materials. New Ravenna’s hand crafted Chinoiserie mosaic is a dominant blue mosaic with flora and fauna. It is a delicate, durable, and tranquil solution for a sophisticated bathroom. Chinoiserie motifs can be reinforced by fierce porcelain foo dogs, fretwork embroidered towels, a Chinese garden stool, and symbolizing strength, mythic dragons.       


A vivid oriental kitchen can contain Chippendale inspired furniture, ginger jars to hold your tea, a Rosewood alter table to serve a buffet, fresh peonies (the national flower of China), and a 24k gold glass mosaic backsplash that would be the envy of King George IV.

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


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