4 Living sell a wide range of oriental furniture including oriental bedroom furniture, oriental dining room furniture and oriental living room furniture, focusing on contemporary styled pieces for the modern home.In its widest sense, Oriental furniture includes Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, Indian and Vietnamese pieces. Also known as Asian furniture, contemporary oriental furniture can be made from black or white lacquered woods or solid dark woods such as teak, mahogany, or bamboo. It can feature smooth, straight lines or be intricately carved, it can be delicate and pretty or substantial and utilitarian, oriental furniture is truly exquisite in its diversity.
The glory days of Chinese furniture are epitomised in pieces from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and today, by virtue of their age and rarity, they are highly sought after and very expensive. This has led to the modern trend for reproduction, which seeks to emulate the styles and techniques employed by the ancient Chinese cabinet makers.
With the notion of simplicity at its core and utilising the energies of nature and colour, furniture pieces were designed to complement each other and work together to harmonise a living space bringing peace and prosperity to the household. Lines would flow gently and there would be no sharp edges or corners. The colours of nature, greens, reds, blues, beiges and black were employed and pictures of natural scenes were often incorporated, not just into artwork and wall hangings, but into the furniture pieces themselves.
Rooms decorated in the Chinese style would often be quite sparsely furnished with high quality pieces and the homeowners most valued and expensive possessions would take pride of place and be on full display. This was done to enable the energies to flow freely around the room without obstruction and to attract wealth and prosperity into the home.
Japan is another of eastern Asia’s ancient civilisations and since arriving there in the 16th century, westerners have been fascinated by its many traditions and architectural styles. This fascination has extended to Japanese home interiors, their décor, art and furnishings and is reflected in its immense popularity both in Europe and the UK.
The traditional Japanese home is based on Ma, which is similar to the Chinese chi based philosophy, in that it concentrates on the harmonious balance between space and objects. Japanese zen styling is incorporated throughout the home with simple, clean lines and no clutter. Moveable screens and sliding panels are preferred to doors and wherever there is the opportunity to bring the outside, inside, it is seized upon.
The Japanese favour the use of organic materials such as cane, bamboo, paper and wood over the harshness of plastics and metals, their paler, natural colours mixing well with accents of red, black and gold. They also err on the side of quietude and harmony in their choice of furniture, low rise tables are commonplace in the Japanese home, as is subtly, diffused lighting and no carpet. Instead, a deliberately placed arrangement of tatami mats is used for seating, flooring and sleeping, these mats being fundamental to Japanese interiors.
It is fair to say that Indonesian furniture does not have quite as colourful a past, as furniture from some of the other eastern Asian countries but what it lacks in pedigree, it more than makes up for, in practicality. There are many different timbers utilised in the manufacture of Indonesian furniture, but perhaps the best known and most widely used is Teak.
Teak wood is very hardwearing with a wonderfully deep patterned grain. This makes the wood an ideal medium for the creation of bold, statement pieces. Teak dining tables, teak sideboards, teak beds and wardrobes are a popular choice in many homes, their durability making them resistant to any knocks, bangs and scratches inflicted by exuberance of youth, or the clumsiness of old age.
Teak wood really comes into its own though, in the garden. Much of the wooden furniture used in our gardens and outdoors, is made from this wood because it contains high levels of natural oils, making it rot resistant in all weather conditions. A piece of garden furniture, constructed from teak will happily remain outdoors all year round, improving in looks as it ages and weathers.
Thai furniture neatly binds the age old, traditional handicraft skills, practised and honed over centuries, with modern contemporary tastes. It is durable, strong and eco friendly and looks impressive in any home or garden setting. Thai style has developed over the years and now represents a coming together of eastern and western cultures. The ornate meets the contemporary, the flamboyant meets the practical and the mystical meets the worldly with sometimes quite dramatic effect.
All things natural and supernatural are revered in Thailand and this is reflected as much in Thai furniture, as it is in Thai décor and design. Representations can be seen of characters from the spirit world as well as of animals, trees and flowers and each is given equal importance in Thai décor.
The rustic ambience and exoticism of Thailand can be achieved through the use of basic elements in the home. Natural fibres such as cotton, hemp, linen and silk and fast growing, renewable resources such as mango wood, and bamboo are essential ingredients in a Thai inspired home as are furniture pieces made from recycled woods like Teak or Mahogany
Vibrant colours, shiny fabrics and plenty of accessories bring the magic and charm of India to your home. India is all about abundance but in contrast to some of the other Asian decor styles, rather than create the space with minimalist zen style furniture and the use of calming, neutral colours, Indian decor prefers to act as if all the abundance in the world, is already here.
Take a look at a Bollywood production or check out the ornate saris worn by Indian women and you’ll see a riot of bejeweled colour, the same is true of their decor and their furniture. Decorative wallpapers with floral or swirly patterns are the order of the day here as are large pieces of ornate and intricately carved dark wood furniture.
Scatter cushions, rugs and floor cushions in vivid primary colours lend to the feeling of abundance when tossed over furniture or randomly positioned on a plain dark wood floor and brightly painted picture frames, mirrors, candleholders, elephants and religious statues, complete the splendid display.
Vietnamese style furniture is plain and functional; not in a stylish Zen form that can be appreciated for its grace, simplicity and inner strength, but more in a kind of straightforward, no nonsense kind of way. Chairs look like chairs and tables look like tables, they don’t pretend to be anything else. There’s no ornate carving, there are no elaborate pictures, it is what it is and it does what it does.
Gone are the intricacies of the Indian or the Thai, gone are the colours and the Zen qualities of the Chinese and Japanese, Vietnamese furniture simply is, but it is none the worse for it. It is as strong and durable as you could wish for and as reliable and attractive in a utilitarian kind of way. If it is strong, sturdy, functional furniture that you are looking for then you won’t go far wrong with Vietnamese furniture.
Useful in every area of the home it is particularly good as garden or conservatory furniture. Stylish wicker table and chair sets and sturdy wooden garden furniture is produced in Vietnam and exported all over the world.
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