Monday, November 28, 2011

Grisaille and Chinoiserie

My interior-designer friend suggested I install "grisal" panels on the sliding cabinet doors in my den. Not knowing what "grisal" was, I googled it and came up with the word "grisaille," a French term that refers to a painting technique in grey tones that was popular in the mid-1800s. 

A value sketch that really isn't because it should be done in pencil...

The grisaille technique is very similar to a "value drawing."  In art class, before committing paint to paper, we were encouraged to do a "value sketch" of what we intended to paint as a tool for composition. This way, one can easily identify the light, and dark areas and see how the light moves across the composition. I didn't realize it was a painting technique used long ago for various other reasons.

The American company, de Gournay, which is famous for its exquisite hand-painted Chinoiserie (shin-wah-seh-ree) wallpaper, kept popping up in my google search because it also creates grisaille panoramic murals.  I got sidetracked with all the beautiful chinoiserie that is timeless in interior design.

De Gournay, caters to a very high end market and their products are often seen in design books, magazines, and the internet. Their prices are also very high end.

Speaking of chinoiserie, my friend Pam and I went on a "design field trip" and visited the home of a good friend of hers last week. In this gorgeously designed apartment, the dining room had beautiful hand-painted chinoiserie walls.  Unfortunately I can't feature this home in my blog because the owner is a very private person. I'm just so thankful that she happily opened up her home to me.  Being here felt like I was in an apartment in Paris, instead of in the middle of Manila. It was nothing over-the-top, but Pam was right when she said her friend had refined and cultivated taste.

 Chinoiserie walls of the dining room

Meanwhile, at the home of another friend, Alicia, which we also visited that day, the hand-painted chinoiserie powder room made my heart skip a beat. Alicia is not an interior designer,  but her aesthetic sense is highly developed. What I find intriguing about her is that she always knows the names of designers that are popular for a particular design--and I'm not talking about the iconic ones like Mies, Eero, or Marcel. Let's just say she knows beautiful design, and she always knows the origin.

After oohing and aahing in her powder room, the name "de Gournay" came up, and I was able to talk about design at her level only because of my recent google search. With this chinoiserie all around me,  I felt that the design universe was giving me a sign.

But what is speaking to me right now are these incredible grisaille murals. I would love to have something like this in my home. My stairwell is just white as of now, and the family room...hmm...

In this decorative artist's blog, she shows us the process of one grisaille commission.  I'm sure with the number of talented artists here in Manila, I can find someone to do similar.

Hope you learned something new like I did. Just remember that it's grisaille as in Versailles or kampai, and not grisaille as in La Salle  or pandesal.


Anonymous said...

wow!!! i love this look!!! i realize now I really like this pattern. hmmm... wonder where this fits in my house? nice shots marivic:)

Carla Aston said...

I love Chinoiserie. You're so lucky to see such beautiful examples in your house tours. Love that powder room color with the gold and the lightness of the dining room painting.

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Anonymous said...

Hi! I know this is much delayed but just stumbled upon your blog today while looking up chinoiserie and wallpapers in Manila. Any leads on suppliers for Chinese design wallpapers? And thanks for providing me another eyecandy website.


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