Monday saw the celebration of Chinese New Year.  Interior Designer Jamie Hempsall considers the impact of Chinese design on our interior colour choices.

Classic Chinese influence on our decorative surroundings has been growing in popularity for years.  Today, the vivid colours associated with historical Chinese decoration are firmly reflected in interior design trends.

The Chinese tonal palette can be a strong one to behold, but that colour confidence has inspired many people to adopt them as part of bold design choices, which work well in both modern and traditional environments.

The wallpaper “Cranes in Flight” from Harlequin (£58 per roll; www.harlequin.uk.com – 0845 123 6805) is an ideal example of Eastern influence with its monochrome flock of Cranes against a hyper-stylised cloud background. The blue-green of the cloud encapsulates its Chinese meaning of vigour and vitality, whilst the simplicity of the lines draws you in to the design.

Cranes in Flight from Harlequin

Rich blue, a staple of the interiors world is considered to be a symbol of relaxation, calmness and even healing.  Therefore, it is no surprise that it is has been adopted in night-oriented rooms, such as a dining room or a bedroom.  It also works as a dramatic statement piece colour to starkly contrast another main colour.  This use works particularly well when introduced in the form of key decorative objects (such as the pair of Fusion Chinese Dogs from John Lewis, £40) or a focal piece of upholstery.

Mid Week China - Fusion Pair of Chinese Dogs

The real magic of the blue though appears when you fully embrace traditional colour pairings and combine it with burnt orange.  In China, orange indicates change and spontaneity – so perhaps this is why this combination is such a delightful jolt to the senses.

A number of wallpaper collections incorporate this to great effect, one of my favourites being Gondola from the Frontier Collection by Cole & Son, which uses the combination to hint at moonlit highlights on a romantic evening (£72 per roll; www.cole-and-son.com – 0207 376 4628).

Mid Week China - Gondola wallpaper from the Cole & Son Frontier Collection

Orange and blue can also be used dynamically in upholstery schemes.  The grouping of chairs in contrasting blue or orange always works well– as long as you are strident in a choice of rich pigments.  This is illustrated by the pictured pairing of a sofa in Zoffany Lustre Weave (shown here in teal, £54 per meter) with a chair in their Mica Weave in Rust (£99 per meter), especially when seen against the backdrop of curtains in Zoffany Water Iris in Peacock/Copper (£75 per meter; all at www.zoffany.com – 01895 221000).

Mid Week China Zoffany

Alternatively, using burnt orange or blue-geen as a contrast piping to a blue main fabric (as seen in the 3 Seat Chelsea Sofa from www.igrupandritz.co.uk, £1,699) can add a heightened dimension to your upholstery choice.

2016 is a year of the Monkey and people born under this sign are supposed to be lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile.  If you fancy a little monkey fun in your interior seek out the Seletti Range of Monkey Lights – they are truly imaginative featuring a realistic monkey sculpture in stark white holding a bare bulb.  Three styles (sitting, standing and a hanging wall light) allow you to include them wherever your fancy takes you!

via Rocca 50 46019 - Viadana - MN - Italy

So, if your 2016 resolutions are already far behind you, why not make a Chinese New Year declaration to embrace these bold colour trends to brighten up your outlook?

Article as it appears in the Yorkshire Post 10th Feb 2016
YP 9th March 2016