Fair celebrates Eastern design

Pair of red carved lacquer ‘cinnabar’ vases, C20th.
Pair of red carved lacquer ‘cinnabar’ vases, C20th.

As part of the forthcoming Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair at Battersea Park in London a celebration of how Eastern design has infiltrated our everyday lives will be on display in the event’s foyer from January 23 to 28.

Celebrating the Silk Route will explore how european designers have embraced the exoticism of Eastern design since the 1600s.


The desire for uncommon goods to display in our homes drove merchants to undertake fortune-changing journeys to the East, near and far. Caravans carried silks, lacquer, porcelain, metalwork, precious stones and spices from far-flung China, Nepal, Tibet, central Asia and Persia, whilst ships wound their way around Indonesia, India and Arabia.

Furniture, fabrics and objects from, and influenced by, the ‘orient’ will be for sale, styled to showcase this broad aspect of decoration that has permeated our design heritage.  All items are drawn from among the 150 specialist antiques, art and 20th-century design dealers taking part in the Fair.

Painted French pine commode with Chinoiserie decoration, c1850.
Painted French pine commode with Chinoiserie decoration, c1850.

Fabulous rugs, woven silk textiles and brocades, blue and white porcelain, decorative lacquer work and metalware, have long been the epitome of luxury.  Tales of souks, bazaars and oases entered our imagination as the objects that travelled from them entered our homes and art. European manufacturers learned to emulate and imitate these ‘oriental’ skills: Delftware, japanned and faux bamboo furniture, printed Lancashire cottons and London silks. Chinoiserie became part of our design repertoire.

In the Georgian era great furniture makers added orientalism to their design books; the Prince Regent’s Pavilion of fantasy in Brighton cemented the architectural fashion; in Stoke the potteries developed transfer printing and we took willow pattern ‘china’ to our hearts.

With 1990s minimalism came a Zen-like approach to the Silk Route; sand and stone neutrals punctured by contemplative Buddhas and a nod to colour with Chinese cabinets, floating flowers in lacquered bowls and the ethereal hue of simple celadon ceramics.

Up on the Mezzanine at the Winter Decorative Fair is the complimentary London Antique Rug & Textile Art Fair, which relocated to the Battersea Park marquee in 2017.  This annual fair devoted to woven art brings a further richness of choice to visitors.

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