The new look in home furnishings: Paisley & black lacquer (1963)

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The new look in home furnishings — Black lacquer furniture and paisley fabrics

By Vivian Brown

A new look in home furnishings may well be black furniture and paisley fabrics, says fabric expert Zelena Brunschwig, of the American Institute of Interior Designers. She bases her forecast on a trend noted in Paris.

“Black lacquer furniture, and especially reproduction of Boulle (cabinetmaker who worked in the Louis XIV style) furniture is very popular there, and it is only natural that this type of furniture will find a vogue here,” she predicts.

“It is difficult to find original pieces of Boulle, but the reproductions are very good. It is charmingly used with adaptations of paisley motifs, particularly those done on black grounds.”

Mrs Brunschwig, who was a decorator with one of the best-known houses before she became a style leader in the fabric field 20 years ago, has an eye for noting new fabric trends.

Fabric long popular

“Paisley has really been in vogue for about 150 years. But what has been so interesting about it has been the adaptations made by many countries. South of France fabrics described as provincial took their inspiration from paisley motifs, interpreting them in their own way to get fresh allure.”

She found many original blocks in Provence and Alsace, adapting them for screen printing.

Britain turned out rich, opulent colors and designs, also using Kashmir designs as inspiration. The town of Paisley in Scotland gave them their name.

Paisley is the type of design that lends itself to any room in the house, she points out, and to curtains, furniture covers, pillows. It is a good fabric for amateur decorators because there is less chance to make mistakes.

Has new paisleys

Originally paisleys were printed on red, she says, exhibiting a beautiful red paisley table cover.

“I like this so much that I had adapted for yard goods with a border on each side,” she explains. Typical of the 11 new paisleys in her collection, it is a rich colorful design.

The resurgence of paisleys in recent months indicate a cycle that hasn’t been felt since the Victorian era, she says.

“Since paisley designs were really taken from Persian and Indian motifs, it is even successful with Queen Anne and earlier periods of furniture, because these prints were brought back by the East India Company in the 18th Century,” she explains.

Many motifs

Though there is a general likeness and color, most paisley prints are unrelated to the true Kashmir shawls imported by the company. Small sections woven on looms were sewn together in a patchwork construction. Today’s paisley designs are printed from European wood blocks or adapted for screen printing in modern dyes.

There are many popular striking motifs in paisley designs, including dates, iris, rosettes, seaweed, ferns and shells. The pine cone motif of the Kashmir shawls is usually bent like a windblown cypress with a lower section, suggesting the rondel form popular in Persian art.

The lotus is a popular motif and when shown from a side view resembles an open fan. The motif known as honeysuckle is really derived from the palm tree, rather than from the honeysuckle we know. Many of the smaller patterns, often classified as Indian, are actually taken from 18th century prints with a Chinese influence.

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