Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Design Under the Influence: The Louis Ghost Chair

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Hello, I'm Erika Brechtel of small shop! I am by trade a graphic designer; by education, an art historian and interior designer. So I thought it might be fun for La Dolce Vita readers to take advantage of my past schooling and get quick "lessons" every now and then on a little historical background in matters of art, furniture, decorative arts, etc. but in the context of modern design! Fun, right? Today's brush-up: what is the difference between a Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI chair? Let's take the ever-popular (and a fave of mine!) Louis Ghost Chair by designer Philippe Starck for Kartell. Recognize it? We all know and still love it.
Perhaps you know, perhaps you don't and are thrilled to learn that this chair is a modern interpretation of a French chair typical of the Neoclassical period of Louis XVI's reign (1774 - 1791):
The Neoclassical period took its cues from Greek and Roman symmetry and classic geometries, but was also in direct response to the ornately curvilinear and overtly feminine Rococo silhouettes of the previous period (Louis XV's reign, 1715-1774). You know that sexy S-curve "cabriole" leg, those super fancy and flourished pieces, often with shells and foliage? All of that is Rococo. These softer lines, and lighter fabrics and colors, were in turn a direct response to the heavier fabrics and imposing forms of the previous Baroque period during -- you guessed it -- Louis XIV's reign (a.k.a. the "Versailles" Louis). Got all that? If not, here's a (very) simplified chart to keep it all straight and help you quickly identify the characteristics:
What comes next? Directoire (post-French Revolution) and Empire (Napoleon's era), but we can get into that another time! (See this is fun, right?) So whether you are a professional or a hobbyist: drop some knowledge on your colleagues and clients, or just have something to think about next time you see a certain room or piece of furniture. I hope you will use it as you wish, and enjoy!  
{Image sources and more on my Pinterest board}

31 comments:

Lonely Wife Project said...

History lesson and pretty pictures! Erika, you are what's right with the world :) This made me appreciate my own ghost chairs a little bit more!

Karlita said...

as usual I love your easy to read and see charts!.. very interesting.. thanks for sharing these facts! I have always loved that ghost chair but didn't know what was behind it!

Karlita said...

Have always loved those chairs.. have two posts about them and didn't know what was behind them! thanks for sharing this Erika, as usual I love your easy to read and see charts!

designstiles said...

Erika, you're full of smarts. Love the way you laid this all out. Kinda felt like school without me having to do the homework. That's the best kind, yes?

Anonymous said...

I love this feature. I hardly ever take the time to comment but I would absolutely love to see more articles like here. What a great addition to La Dolce Vita.

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

You are awesome. Love the way you presented this. Great new series!

Neda said...

Lovely post~ a little beauty and a little history. LOVED the simplified chart!! :)

victoria | vmac+cheese said...

Love Erika and I adore this new series! Learning about the history of my favorite furnishings is so fun. Keep 'em coming!

Lily said...

Love this !! They are definitely a favorite of mine and I really want to add some to my dining room...is that gold on the bottom of the chairs in the second picture? If so, Im pretty sure I need those !

xxLily
goldandgray.com

Tobe | Because It's Awesome said...

this is going to be a great feature! thanks for the lesson, erika. ox

Cove and Grey said...

I love the ghost chair! I love the look of them around a dining table. Great photos!

Diane said...

Enjoyed seeing so many different room photos with the Louis Ghost Chair in them! It seems like this chair has been getting a lot of attention lately, in the Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Awards and the Washington Post Magazine, which is where I noticed it recently. This is my blog post on the subject, if you are interested: http://orangerieandblue.blogspot.com/2011/09/ambassadors-of-style.html
Really interesting piece of furniture, thanks for sharing all those great photos which we might not otherwise have seen!

Leighton said...

Loved this post! Especially the chart. Fun and educational. Thanks, Erika!

Leighton said...

Loved this post! Especially the chart. So fun and educational at the same time. Thanks, Erika!

Amanda said...

I was waiting for posts like that! Its a great Idea and I love learning about history and backgrounds!!! Hope you'll keep on doing this :)

Allison {Halcyon Style} said...

Love this new blog series! Everyone can benefit from these little history lessons - even those of us who have a history of art background. I look forward to future posts.

THE ALTERNATIVE WIFE said...

What a fantastic post! Erika this was so incredible informative. Thanks for the lesson :) xoxo

Emily | Recently said...

Am I a nerd if I say I'll be referencing your chair chart many times in the future? What a fantastic post!

imwaytoobusy said...

This was so fun to read. Fab Louis lesson. Looking forward to more of your posts!

Three Sisters said...

I loved this! The pictures convinced me to buy a pair for two rooms in my home that I have completely redecorated. Thanks!

Rebecca - A Daily Something said...

This is BRILLIANT! I was just talking w/my boyfriend about all the Louis styles, and how I didn't know the difference. Love the idea of the series and cannot wait for more.

Vanessa said...

I totally just had a moment...remembering how much I love the Ghost Chair and remembering having margaritas with the brilliant Philipe Starck as he was critiquing a line of furniture he designed for The David Sutherland Showroom! Ericka, fabulous job breaking it down for us!

inspiralia said...

Fabulous post. Thank you!

designchic said...

I love ghost chairs, especially in traditional decor...great juxtaposition!! My daughter just received a child size one as a baby gift and it is adorable ~

Christine DeOrio said...

Erika, I love this post! More, please!

marisol said...

great post, I had not been introduced to erika's blog and I love her style/content! what a great addition to the team.

Anonymous said...

this is a first for me to enjoy this informative blog.it shows our readers more than what they expected for new inspiration and how our European roots influence the style in our homes to make it our own personal choices.

annie said...

I have two of the Neoclassical Louis Ghost chairs on each side of an antique armoire...I have always loved them and it's fun to have all this information you've put together here...I'm surprised how many people come into my house and think they are a bit odd...I adore them. I have a few of these images on my Pinterst boards, but must add the one with the Eiffel Tower.

Megan {Honey We're Home} said...

So interesting- and easy to understand the way you've broken it down. Makes me wish I studied the subject! We like your contributors Paloma! :)

furniture hire said...

These really are amazing, we specialize in furniture hire and they are by far our most popular product. The Victoria Ghost Chair is another interesting version of the Ghost Chair, just has no arms, still a great chair tho.

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