Baroque style furniture

Globus 24 january 2018 Furniture Styles

Baroque Style of Furniture gets its name from the famous Baroque period. The Baroque period was established after the Renaissance period and is the period between the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The style of furniture, art, architecture and pretty much everything creative over this period that originated in Italy is said to be of the Baroque Style. This not only gained popularity in Europe but quickly spread to the rest of the world.

The word baroque comes from the Portuguese word "Barocco" which literally translates to "uneven pearl". Thus, this style was meant to be more of a free and experimental approach to structure. This extended into various realms of music and art. One such realm was furniture and interior decoration.

What are the characteristics of Baroque Furniture? 

Given the historical significance of the Baroque period, it isn't uncommon to visualize Baroque Furniture as something that was luxurious, elaborate and something that depicted royalty. However, this period was not only about royalty and luxury. This period was about incorporating experimental designs into utilitarian objects; objects that could be used time and again in a domestic set up and objects that can be considered as works of art.

Some stand-out characteristics of Baroque Furniture include: 

1) Elaborate Ornamentation: Furniture that was designed in the Baroque Period was never about "less is more". It was about "the more, the better". Thus, furniture pieces had an exuberant decoration pattern that sometimes even went overboard. The decoration was exaggerated, over-the-top and definitely made a statement. No amount of decoration was considered too much and thus, what set aside furniture of this period was the distinctive ornamentation. 

2) Symmetrical balance: What set furniture of this period aside was, the beautiful yet delicate balance that was struck between elaboration and a sense of symmetry. Even though the decoration was pretty statement-like, all the elements on a particular furniture piece were integrated together in a beautiful harmony. The furniture pieces were kept as symmetrical as possible and any designs were replicated throughout the piece, with little or no variations at all.

3) Use of twisted columns: Another stark characteristic of Baroque Style furniture is the usage of twisted columns. These columns were used to incorporate a sense of curves in any piece of furniture which made it seem almost dynamic. Thus, furniture pieces such as tables, armoires, cabinets and even tall furniture such as a wall-clock were diagonally interlaced with twisted columns. 

4) Inclination towards wood: One of the most common materials that were extensively used to create Baroque furniture was wood. A major reason for this was the establishment of frequent trade routes between Asia and Europe. This made it possible to import tropical wood from Asia to create furniture. Major woods used include Ebony and Mahogany. This was used to create more sophisticated and luxurious pieces that were considered as art. Local woods such as Walnut, Oak and Chestnut were also used to build domestic furniture and other small pieces of furniture.

5) Use of inlays: Inlays are nothing but pieces of a material that is inserted in furniture. Thus, in order to bring out intricacies of the design, furniture was made using inlays. This not only made the piece more elaborate but also created contrasting compositions. The inlays were usually made using veneer which is thin pieces of wood. The veneers were chosen as contrasting colours that would add a pop of something to the furniture piece. They were sometimes also chosen from a different material such as metals or ivory. An example of inlays is the usage of marble table tops on a solid wooden base.

6) Gilded finish: If the ornamentation and intricacies of the details on furniture weren't sufficient, the introduction of the gilded finish trend at the beginning of the 18th century took Baroque furniture to a whole new level. This was done by covering the piece of furniture created with a gold leaf. The obsession with this kind of a style became so much that even doorknobs had an elaborate gold decoration on it. Gold symbolized wealth, luxury and royalty. Thus, using gilded furniture was a symbol of sophistication and spoke of ultimate luxury. Even the European courts started to flaunt gold-plated chandeliers, gold mirror frames, and even gold-rimmed paintings.

7) Use of motifs: Motifs were used as finishing touches for any particular furniture piece. These motifs were usually geometric and had curves and spirals with some foliage to them. Other common figurative details used included animals, cherubs, and children. Crests were also carved out on the furniture which contained the initials of the owner of the piece to show a sense of ownership and status.

As beautiful as the period was, like all good things come to an end, so did the period and the furniture with it.

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