Mod­ern ori­en­tal

Michelle Ogun­de­hin, ELLE Dec­o­ra­tion’s Ed­i­tor-at-large, talks us through the key theme of the homes in this is­sue o

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

Ed­i­tor-at­Large Michelle Ogun­de­hin talks us through the theme of this is­sue’s homes

Mod­ern Ori­en­tal? At first read, that might seem like some­thing of a con­tra­dic­tion. Surely ‘Ori­en­tal’ prompts vi­sions of an­cient rit­u­als and fil­i­gree de­tail, whereas ‘mod­ern’ is all achingly stream­lined, con­tem­po­rary cool? The idea for a Mod­ern Ori­en­tal is­sue came out of my ex­plo­ration of Japon­isme in the Au­gust 2017 Trends is­sue. There, I wrote of the emer­gence of a new sim­plic­ity and el­e­gance in de­sign that owed a lot to Ja­pan. I be­lieved this was the re­sult of four key in­gre­di­ents: har­ness­ing the power of nature and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als; rev­el­ling in fin­ish and tex­ture; pay­ing at­ten­tion to the smallest de­tails; and ap­proach­ing de­sign with a re­spect built upon cen­turies of rit­ual, but also with an ir­rev­er­ence that en­ables con­stant evo­lu­tion. It’s a re­vival of age-old ob­ses­sions cou­pled with a zeit­geist-led twist. And it is pre­cisely this clash­ing of cul­tures that we wanted to ex­plore.

How­ever, this was ‘The Big Trend’ that was newly hit­ting the main­stream, al­beit no­table for its em­ploy of a cer­tain capri­cious­ness in the de­sign of fur­ni­ture and home accessories. It was also a feel that was very much led by Ja­panese tech­niques and aes­thet­ics, rather than the style of the Far East­ern hemi­sphere as a whole. What we were in­ter­ested in for this is­sue was that which has al­ready seen wide­spread ar­tic­u­la­tion in in­te­ri­ors. The re­dux ver­sion of ‘East meets West’, if you will – homes that ex­hib­ited the mar­riage of the 21st-cen­tury ur­ban home with a touch of the ex­otic.

It is, per­son­ally, a favourite style of mine. I love the union of two aes­thet­ics, es­pe­cially when it is grounded in such a pre­cise un­der­stand­ing of the fun­da­men­tals of de­sign ex­cel­lence – in short, the im­por­tance of pal­ette, pre­sen­ta­tion and a de­sire for per­fec­tion. And yet, Mod­ern Ori­en­tal is a theme that also al­lows great free­dom of in­ter­pre­ta­tion. What you will see over the next 68 pages is a se­lec­tion of the world’s most beau­ti­ful ex­am­ples of this trend – homes that demon­strate this new, deluxe vi­sion in many dif­fer­ent ways. They prof­fer a master­class in how to get the look, whether that home is in Swe­den, Aus­tralia or Ja­pan. For Mod­ern Ori­en­tal isn’t about sim­ply stick­ing an or­nately carved piece of lac­quer­work into a con­tem­po­rary home, it is a de­sign lan­guage that rev­els in a sub­tlety of de­tail and the care­ful com­bi­na­tion of ma­te­ri­als. And while there can be no pre­or­dained menu of moves that in­stantly add up to cre­ate this look, I be­lieve it can be de­scribed as the in­ten­tion to cre­ate a space that has a sim­plic­ity and authen­tic­ity that harks back to no­tions of wabi-sabi – the Ja­panese un­der­stand­ing of the beauty in im­per­fec­tion – and a fin­ish­ing, with fit­tings and fur­nish­ings, of that space in such a way as to crys­tallise this in­tent.

Ma­te­ri­als such as wood abound, con­not­ing as they do an hon­esty and truth. Walls are gen­er­ally plain, or art­fully ren­dered in plaster, hand-worked to an ex­quis­ite patina. Art­works are care­fully con­sid­ered, en­ter­ing into an in­ti­mate di­a­logue with the rooms in which they hang; shad­ows too are con­sid­ered an art­ful part of any de­sign. And then there will be that top note of ex­oti­cism – the mer­est evo­ca­tion of chi­nois­erie – whether that be a sin­gle flow­er­ing stem dis­played in an earth­en­ware pot or a clus­ter of shapely vases on a din­ing ta­ble. Noth­ing is by ac­ci­dent, ev­ery­thing is con­sid­ered; noth­ing is ex­ces­sive, ev­ery­thing is beau­ti­ful. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: ‘Sim­plic­ity is the ul­ti­mate so­phis­ti­ca­tion’. And so to­day, we feel, is Mod­ern Ori­en­tal.

Mod­ern Ori­en­tal isn’t about sim­ply stick­ing an or­nately carved piece of lac­quer­work into a con­tem­po­rary home, it is a de­sign lan­guage that rev­els in the sub­tlety of de­tail

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