Book Tour Taste — Orientalist Interiors

The photos in this coffee-table book could keep you amused for hours, but Exotic Taste supplies much more than layout eye candy. Written by art historian Emmanuelle Gaillard and graphic designer and photographer Marc Walter, Exotic Taste investigates Asian and Middle Eastern influences on interior design and architecture in Western Europe. While many of these architectural and design elements exist in houses today, this book focuses on the 17th and 18th centuries, if interior design became a massive area of the pursuit of happiness during the Enlightenment.

Read on for a sneak peek of Exotic Taste:


When trade between Western Europe and Eastern nations increased from the 17th and 18th centuries, elements of Asian style started to creep into English, French, Portuguese and Dutch insides. Everything from onion domes into chinoiserie was implemented into wealthy houses in these nations. Ever since that time, design from Asian and Middle Eastern nations remains hugely popular in interiors throughout the world.

Exotic Taste investigates the history and elements of this genre by area. The book is organized into three segments: China and Japan, India, and the Near East.

China and Japan

This photo of this Tour Pillement in the Château de Haroué from the French region of Lorraine Is a Superb example of the love for chinoiserie in 18th century European insides. Exotic, exotic birds, animals, pagodas, and people in costumes cover the walls of this Chinese Salon.

“Before the 13th century,” Gaillard writes,”European understanding of the Far East had to do with the creativity than with any authentic knowledge or experience of the Orient. The ancient Romans imagined a passion for silks from China, which seduced people alike with their refinement, and for spices from India… Yet the inaccessible and abstract Orient remained unidentified, a puzzle.”

Obviously, design elements diverse region to region. Back in France, Chinese wallpapers were normally put on displays or dangled on stretchers. But in England, they were usually utilized to decorate entire rooms — especially women’s bedrooms and dressing rooms. Porcelain was just another popular import from China. Many wealthy and royal families would obsessively collect those pieces.

This chamber from the Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, was designed to hold Queen Sophie Charlotte’s personal collection of porcelain. Even though it was designed after her death, the queen had an incredible group of precious Chinese porcelain, and the area was designed in accordance with her tastes.


“As traders and travelers told tales of this magnificence of Indian architecture, the colonialist element in these types of exchanges was paralleled with a mutual influence in the artistic and technical spheres,” Gaillard writes. Artists, scientists, and literati alike became fascinated with the philosophy, arts and science of a property that was considered’the ancient cradle of the planet.'”

Onion domes are one of many architectural elements that were imported from India. This home also shows other Indian inspired facets: the chattris in the four corners of the roof, the scalloped decoration of these windows, and a projecting cornice in an Indian fashion. This building would easily fit into an Indian landscape, but its really the Sezincote House in Gloucestershire, England.

This photo shows the inside of part of this Monserrate Palace near Sintra, Portugal. The series of Moorish arches, the stone filigree, the onion domes, and the exterior minarets of this palace are all evidence of its base in Indian layout.

The Near East

According to this book,”The Islamic world was a source of fascination with Europeans. From the Taj Mahal to the Alhambra, this is a universe of caliphs’ gardens and palaces of The Thousand and One Nights, of the very foundations of this fascination exerted across the Western imagination by the mysterious Orient.”

This illustration is of a single hall (known as”Arab Hall”) from the Leighton House, constructed in London for Lord Leighton in 1864. This hallway was designed especially to show Lord Leighton’s set of Oriental ceramic tiles. The space is two stories high, and is topped by a dome on a central pool and fountain.

Here’s a shot of the inside of”Arab Hall” in the Leighton House. This space was visible from a landing on the principal staircase in the primary house. A few of these stained glass employed in the dome was brought back from Damascus.

More Book Tours:

Salvage Secrets

Patina Style


See related

Fromente Written by: