The following paragraph is a recap from Part 1 of My Gustavian Style- Click here to read the full post.
Gustavian Style and French Country Style are two of my f a v o r i t e design styles. I would like to shed some light on what my personal interior styling preferences are, as well as take an opportunity to share a little about who I am, some of my experiences, and a little background about some of my college experience.
Style I Love
Some might be wondering what the heck Gustavian even is? To start, it hails from Sweden. In simple terms, I would describe Gustavian as a toned down version of French design. But since I’m naturally a story-teller, and I tend to elaborate on details, coupled with the need to feel like I’m putting into use the knowledge that I gained from my ridiculously expensive education at Academy of Art University, I’m sharing basic details about Gustavian style furnishings.
The history of Gustavian began with Swedish King Gustave III. The furniture forms are neoclassical in style. King Gus, hailing from Sweden, was a full-fledged patron of the arts, with a keen passion for all things design, decor and fashion. So where else would any lover of the arts go in the late 17th and early 18th century? The Palace of Versailles, of course. So dreamy. King Gustavian and French King Louis XVI were best of friends, too.
The French had taken over the second round of excavating the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, as a result,Neoclassical design became au courant in France. Neoclassical is derived from the classical design and architectural principles that were used in ancient Greece and Rome. King Gus was absolutely giddy and kvelling over the Neoclassical style and he carried it back to Sweden. From there King Gus and his team of designers and artists began implementing the style and also interpreting it to better suit their Swedish living environment.
The forms (designer jargon for shape) of Neoclassical are symmetrical; embellishment and ornamentation are subtle. Neoclassical is characterized with delicate painting, precise carving, wood inlaid with gold leaf and other materials. This adds decorative pizzaz to the minimal, streamlined forms of Neoclassical design.
There are some variations between Gustavian and French Neoclassical, but for the purpose of this post, that is TMI. (too much information) Each style from both regions is equally beautiful though. Neoclassical forms are usually satisfying for those who like minimalist design, at the same time, the style is not limited to only a minimalist approach to design. It’s quite versatile and it suits various tastes. These are some of the reasons that I enjoy Neoclassical design. I’m also a sucker for anything historical or period in style. If you are curious, check out my Pin board for Classical | Neoclassical design here.
Brooke Giannettis image of the Swedish day bed showcases the traditional form of Neoclassical Gustavian furniture.
I find so much beauty in the simplicity and restraint of classical designs.
If you want to see more Swedish | Gustavian check out my Pins here.
Up until the discovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii, Rococo had been en vogue in France. Rococo evolved from Baroque. Rococo is much softer and delicate than its predecessor. The curving lines are airy and flirty compared to the heavier and stronger design patterns of Baroque.
Rococo is the complete opposite of Neoclassical. Its style was developed by tradespeople, craftsmen, and designers rather than architects. Unlike Neoclassical, Rococo is not symmetrical, meaning one-half of the design does not match the other side. Rococo design features S and C scrolls similar to the legs of my coffee table.
Can you see the S legs? (S = sexy, curvy legs. Who doesn’t like curvy legs?)
Some find Rococo to be frivolous and gaudy. I tend to think that opinion is due to some confusion between Baroque and Rococo design. Either way, I admire the craftsmanship and skill that is required to create such intricate details into Rococo design.
Speaking of details, my coffee table is not a true Rococo design. I am certain that its form was inspired by several periods of design; Rococo, Classical and Neoclassical. The legs are definitely influenced by Rococo. The acanthus leaves, are inspired by classical Greek and Roman styles. I question this guy in the middle… look at the picture below…. the medallion ring reminds me of an Egyptian motif.
I put together a Pin board full of Rococo inspiration here; furniture, interior and fashion are included.
I can’t help but notice the similarity of the medallion shape to the motifs of the sun that were used in Egypt. The winged, leafy looking ornament on the top looks similar to winged animals in Egypt, but at the same time, it has a distinct Classical Roman feel to it as well. Let me just throw in another shape it bears a resemblance to the rocaille in Rococo. Like I said, I have never been able to pinpoint the precise periods of design that this table was inspired by. It definitely uses various periods in its form. Either way, I love this coffee table. I already said that. LOL.
What really draws me to Gustavian design is the color palette. Early Gustavian style used colors of winter; wintry grey, pale blue, cream, varying shades of white and ochre. The hues are restrained and pale in contrast to bolder traditional French color palettes. When I was trying to decide on a finish for my coffee table, my first plan was to do traditional French blue painted finish with gold-gilded edges. That would have been beautiful, but I had to stick to my guns and keep with wintry color in the painted finish.
Gilding is a signature element seen in both Gustavian and French design. I think styling the table with these vintage brass candlesticks fills that void of having gilding on the table itself. I still have plenty of French country charm and kept with the neutral wintry Gustavian color palette. I do love my neutrals. They lend so much versatility to styling and decorating with seasonal colors and they never clash with the overall feel of the room. I do like to shuffle things around and when I get on kick with a color, I like it to be temporary and effortless to switch them out when I’m on to the next “favorite” color of the month.
Swedish winters are nearly identical to Alaskan winters. I happen to live in Alaska, where the winters are long and dark. The cold is one that most people cannot even imagine. One of the reasons that King Gus used soft colors was that it mocked the Swedish winter colors, but they also serve a purpose. Light colors allow in as much light in as possible. At the darkest point, we have about six hours of twilight during the day. Folks who live further north are enveloped in complete darkness and sub-zero temperatures. I couldn’t handle those conditions without losing my mind. I’m thankful for the light we do receive further south, in Anchorage, where I have lived for almost fifteen years. Just another tidbit about me: Hot climates are not my forte!
Now, some of you might be thinking, “why not use bright colors?” I’ll tell you why. I’m just not a loud, vivacious, color person. In the past, I have used traditional French colors. I have had yellow rooms, green rooms, and at one point a red kitchen. Bright colors in my home really agitate me. It’s not that I don’t like color. I do. Indoors it just feels unnatural and overbearing to me. Instead, I opt to embrace the environment that I live in and bring wintry color tones throughout most of my home. I find them to be soothing and relaxing. If there is one thing I learned in my studies of Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia, it is to embrace the environment that I live in.
This is how I use color in my home.
The majority of color that I use in my home does follow fashion of the early Gustavian palette but don’t get me wrong, I do not altogether shun richly pigmented colors. This is where my love of French country enters the scene. The French culture uses color through natural flowers and greenery, and I do love flowers; both dried and fresh.
Part of embracing my environment means embracing a touch of rustic too. Alaska is the land of all things rustic camo, flannels, Carhart clothing, hunting, fishing, snow machines, camping, crabbing, cabins, and glamping, (Just kidding! I’m probably the only person alive up here that would glamp IF only I camped.)….. as I was saying, since I live in a rustic state I try to embrace some of that Alaskan nature in my home. I like wood finishes that look authentically aged, not the forced factory looking stuff.
In order to bring the rustic element in, I decided to scuff and dent the edges of the top of the coffee table, then apply an imperfect stain treatment. This added some earthy rugged character to the otherwise feminine form of this table. Is it becoming redundant to say how much I adore the finish on this table? At least this time I chose another verb to break up the repetition. 😉
This post is incredibly long. I sincerely hope that by sharing a little about myself and what I love is informative and that it will be of help for design students. I know when I was in classes at Academy of Art University, I loved running across blogs with posts like this. Study of architecture and interior design can be daunting, even for people who love it. Breaking up the monotony with pretty images that are relevant in todays styles and the condensed information was so helpful in my learning process, as well as a breath of fresh air. I hope other student do find this post to be just that. I know first-hand that earning a degree in architecture and interior design is not an easy… that’s for sure! Someday I will continue my education. For now I’m focused on faux finish, decorative styling, writing, photography, and blogging. (not necessarily in that order either)
In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this- Embrace your environment, decorate with what you love, and be happy no matter what your environment is.
My French Country Style Part. 3 will be coming next week. Sorry for the delay. I need a break from writing and I have some faux finish and decorative paint projects that have been on hold this past week.
Wishing all a Happy Weekend!
This week I’m linking up with a few of my fellow bloggers: