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4 Living offers one of the UK's largest collection of contemporary Chinese lacquer furniture. Chinese furniture designs are available in a black lacquer finish and increasingly; in smooth linen white Chinese lacqquered finish. Chinese lacquer furniture is ideal for the living room, bedroom and dining room.

Our range includes large and small contemporary Chinese beds, chests, bedside tables and wardrobes for the bedroom, Chinese style contemporary coffee tables, TV media units, lamp tables and console tables for the living room and Chinese style dining tables in five sizes as well as ivory white leather chairs, a drinks cabinet and Chinese sideboards large and small for the dining room.

Modern Chinese lacquer furniture is characterised by simple clean lines and elegant proportions, ehich is why Chinese style furniture fits so well in our contemporary as well as more traditional homes.

In comparison, traditional Chinese furniture designs and antique Chinese furniture often have elaborate woodcarvings or colourful painted scenes of Chinese rural life, or ancient battles, dragon myths or of mountain top monasteries.

Chinese Furniture Throughout the Ages

A common trait during the long history of Chinese lacquer furniture has been its mix of artistic form and practicality. This still remains popular today as timeless Chinese furniture inspired pieces are admired in every type of home from the traditional to the more modern.

Home furnishing developed in a very different way in the East, to that in which it developed in the west, although, over the years it evolved to become similar in form. Beds, sofas, chairs, tables and stools began to take on a similar style.

In ancient times, as in most other Asian cultures, the Chinese sat or knelt cross-legged on woven mats. Other furniture and fittings included low tables, decorative screens and arm-rests.

In and around the second century AD, Nomadic tribes used folding stools in remote Northern and Western regions for mounting horses. These became popular seating for travelling or hunting as they were portable and could easily be carried over the shoulder.

With the migration of Buddhism into China from India in AD 200, raised seating began to appear. Buddha was seen to be seated on an elevated platform instead of matting and this introduced the raised platform as a seat for dignitaries and special guests. With the higher levels of seating other types of furniture came to be introduced such as benches and long rectangular tables.

During the Tang Dynasty (618 -907 AD) stools and chairs came to be used by the elite. By the Northern and Southern Song periods (960-1279) higher furniture such as chairs, benches and stools, became widespread and were used by all factors of society and in all walks of life. Unlike in other Eastern countries such as in Japan, floor seating became rare in China by this period.

The Late Ming Period: A Golden Age in Chinese Furniture

Furniture design continued to develop and evolve leading to the late Ming period (1368-1644), where Chinese furniture making was at its height. This furniture is admired for its simple and graceful designs along with clean lines, elegant curves and complex joinery that held the furniture together without glue or nails. It was by this time that China had become prosperous and demand for luxury items had risen. Furniture was no longer simply practical but also became objects of beauty, to be admired. Oriental decoration in this period had a major influence on the west.

Materials Used

The lifting of bans on imports during the Ming and Qing period (1644-1911) created an influx of denser woods from different parts of Asia. This led to heavier and more sizable furniture, which featured more exquisitely carved patterns characteristic of the Qing period. Painted geometric patterns, Chinese characters or natural scenes enriched the decoration.

Lacquer and Decoration

The skills and craftsmanship of Chinese lacquer furniture making have been passed on, from generation to generation. Lacquered furniture was more common in homes of the wealthy and in temples and palaces. The skills had been passed largely through word of mouth, instead of the designs being written down, so they remained unchanged in some cases for thousands of years. A large range of finishes were used during the Ming period which included heavy carved lacquer which was sometimes inlaid with mother of pearl; black or red lacquer and more natural finishes so the grain of the wood could show through.

Over many centuries, the traditional and cultural and developments in oriental design made for an elegant, beautiful and vast source of inspiration for modern design. The minimalist furniture designs of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, at first glance, look worlds apart; in actual fact, they share the same commitment to balance, clean lines and spacious, relaxing interiors.

The blend of the angular symmetry of minimalist furniture and the ornate detail of traditional oriental furniture is a match made in heaven. Minimalism is great, it remains one of the biggest design styles around, but it can often seem a little cold and harsh. Chinese furniture styles, such as distressed edging and ornamental handles, soften the sharp edges of modern furniture and create the perfect style: contemporary oriental.

The blend of traditional and modern means contemporary Chinese lacquer furniture can fit seamlessly into any room. If you have a room full of very traditional and ornate oak furniture, the addition of a very contemporary piece will stick out like a sore thumb. The addition of a contemporary oriental piece, however, will blend whilst adding a subtle contemporary injection; this is because the traditional oriental detail, which frames contemporary oriental furniture, softens the angular contemporary design.

Years of Beauty

The artistic nature of Chinese furniture is appreciated the world over. Whether you are looking for a particular furniture piece for one room, or want to furnish a whole home, we hope that together with our website we can help you find something to enjoy and admire for decades to come.

 Chinese Lacquer Furniture click here to browse our range of products