Rococo sprouts sprouted in France in the first half of the 18th century, and already in the middle of the century, rococo flourished throughout Europe, and also took root in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The name of the new style comes from the French word “rocaille”, which can literally be translated as “pebble” or “stone fragment”. Initially, this was the name given to bizarre stucco decorations using pebbles and shells that could be seen on the walls of “grottoes” – pavilions of French palace parks. The interiors of the cool pavilions were stylized as caves, where ladies and gentlemen hid from the heat on summer evenings. Later, the rocaille began to be called a stucco ornament, reminiscent of the shape of a curl of a seashell. This element has become the main hallmark of Rococo.
The word “rocaille” was often used in a negative way to refer to overly bizarre forms. The term “rococo” came later from a cross between the words “rocaille” and “baroque”, and was used ironically to ridicule the refined tastes and mores of a frivolous secular society.
Frivolity and truth were not alien to Rococo: erotic and mythological motifs prevailed in painting and sculpture, reflecting the hedonistic moods of the aristocracy. The style was a product of the secular culture of the French court.
If baroque was the style of cathedrals and palace halls, rococo became the style of boudoirs and chamber spaces.
It is wrong to consider Rococo a continuation of the Baroque and even more wrong its variety, but you can call it the ideological descendant of the Baroque. Like its ancestor, the Rococo style in the interior celebrated aesthetics and escapism, depicting an idealistic decorative world far from reality. At the same time, Rococo did not support Baroque pretentiousness and heaviness, striving for intimacy, coquetry, and greater elegance of the elements. Styles similar in their decorativeness are also distinguished by Rococo’s love for Chinese motifs and eclecticism.
The word rococo lost its ironic meaning only in the middle of the 19th century when art historians recorded it as the name of a historical style.
Despite accusations of frivolity and bad taste, Rococo left a noticeable mark on art and architecture, and its elements still appear in modern interiors.
French things and Chinese motifs
In addition to recognizable ornaments, Rococo is distinguished by a love for streamlined plant forms. They are accepted by furniture legs and backs, doorways, and rich stucco on the walls and ceiling. Straight lines in rococo architecture and interiors practically disappear or are masked by abundant figured decoration.
Rococo is certainly a luxurious style that required the same materials: exotic woods, Murano glass, marble, and onyx. The floors are parquet and carpets. The walls are either covered in silk or decorated with French wood panels with relief carvings.
Like baroque, rococo is no stranger to gilding, and in terms of color, it prefers cream, sunny yellow, and heavenly tones, as well as a delicate pink tint, which is jokingly called the color of the frightened nymph’s thigh. Against a backdrop of pastoral colors, carved flowers bloom, and plump cupids frolic.
Each surface of a Rococo interior is a decorative surface. These are painting, carving, and stucco molding. These are intricate rocaille, flower garlands, and festoons. Decorative surfaces reflect and multiply numerous mirrors, due to the abundance of which the interior in the rococo style gives the impression of a shaky world of dreams.
An interesting feature of the style was its eclecticism and predilection for Chinese motifs.
Exotic scenes from the Celestial Empire sailed on merchant ships. These were silk, porcelain, and lacquered screens, and on them were lions and birds, peonies and chrysanthemums, plum blossoms, and Chinese pagodas.
Chinese motifs quickly fell in love with the French nobility and became a new fashion trend, called chinoiserie, which can be translated from French as “Chinese”.
During this period, the fashion for Chinese tea houses in palace and park ensembles, fine porcelain, and the culture of tea drinking in an aristocratic environment came.
Rococo and modern interior
In its purest form, the exuberant and refined rococo hardly exists in modern interior design. But this does not mean that its place is exclusively in museums and palaces, which have become architectural monuments of the 18th century. For example, you can purchase bedroom furniture online that features gliding, shells, and scrolls as decor elements.
Elements of each interior era rotate in a fashion cycle, time after time falling into the field of view of designers.
So a couple of years ago, wallpaper and fabrics in the chinoiserie style came into fashion again, and this year wallpapers with a realistic image of stucco have already gained popularity.
Rococo can exist in a mix with other interior eras, in its light version, you can say: “without sugar.”
Of course, you can go with the modern way of interior design interpretation, but if you are fascinated by this subtle and intimate rococo style, why not use some features of it in your apartment?
Last year, the fashion for maximalism and detailed execution iz the interior also returned, although modern maximalism is far from luxury and abundance of rococo. But maybe it’s for the best?
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