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Oriental, Chinese, Asian or Zen

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In retail, you'll often see the descriptors "Oriental", "Chinese", "Asian" and "Zen" used interchangeably.  These are fine to help people generally connect with what they're seeking.  Collectors will always look for particular pieces, and our customers always have particular ideas in mind when they shop.  But if we are to generalize, we can identify 4 aesthetics or applications where "Oriental" or "Asian" design may be seen.  

As "Zen" and often simply "Asian", we find a simple aesthetic of presence, demonstrating harmony and balance.  In the simple dining space seen first below, we have an Asian version of mise en place, which in French means "everything in its place": here, a presentation aesthetic of intentional placement.  Look for elements that reference equilibrium.  The use of movable screens, for example, harmonizes concepts of interior and exterior as light flows from one space to the next.  Elements of nature are common, outside brought inside.  Even the ubiquitous chopstick utensils express equilibrium, handling hot or cold food at extension from the body. 

On the other side of the spectrum, "Oriental" or "Chinese" share the conceptual framework but will often denote pieces of more ornate design, carving or character: bold colors and dramatic figures or scenes, the luxury of imperial court.

Asian furnishings however are not seen in exclusively Asian setting.  More often we see Asian elements integrated across styles, as accents or unique objects of interest, as centerpieces or simply coordinating elements.  A "colonial" mix reflects the historical intersection of European and Asian cultures, mixing the traditional forms of each.  And an "eclectic" or "fusion" approach eschews boundaries of tradition, mixing elements of any era into modern ensembles. 

RA Nelson LLC

RA Nelson LLC

Renee Infantino Inc.

Cambridge Construction LLC


Keep in mind these broad applications as you shop our store.

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