1) The 19th century experienced sweeping changes. Among these changes were an expanding urban population, new scientific developments, the use of new building materials, and the development of single-function rooms in houses. The Industrial Revolution forever changed the nature of architecture, interiors, and furnishings.
According to Harwood, "Furniture for the home, the workplace, and the garden illustrate many changes from the Industrial Revolution. Office furniture becomes more diverse in function, type, selection, and materials - this diversity and the exponential growth of industry lead eventually to the rise of major office furniture manufacturers in the 20th century" (Harwood, volume 2, p. 26). The office chair pictured above (found on page 26 of Harwood, volume 2) represents these changes in furniture design, as organization and convenience became important aspects of the office experience in the 19th century.
2) Eastern influences in Western design:
The bases of these 19th century lamps are in the Chinoiserie style, reflecting a Western understanding of Chinese design. The lamps depict Chinese architecture and a Chinese figure in a peaceful naturalistic setting. Images of two exotic looking flowers, delicate in form, adorn the lower portion of each lamp. The iridescent images glimmer against the dark background. The entire composition is flowing and reflects the compositions found in Chinese landscape paintings.
The Peacock Room, decorated by American painter James NcNeill Whistler in 1876-1877 for his client Frederick R. Leyland, exemplifies the Anglo-Japanese style. The room's purpose was to display Leyland's Chinese porcelain collection, but Whistler's exotic design effectively overpowers the pieces on display. The room's focal point, displayed above the mantel, is Whistler's painting "The Princess from the Land of Porcelain." The painting depicts a woman in Japanese dress standing in front of a Japanese screen. Throughout the room are iridescent paintings of peacocks. For these images, Whistler drew inspiration from birds depicted in Japanese artwork. The color chosen for the room is a rich turquoise resembling the color of peacock feathers.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England was originally built in 1787 for George, Prince of Wales, but was expanded and redesigned by John Nash between 1815 and 1822. The exterior of the building is very Indian in appearance, complete with onion domes, minarets, spires, and Indian arches. In contrast, the pavilion's interiors are largely Chinoiserie but can be described as a hodgepodge of eastern influence. The large banqueting room is especially striking, rife with vibrant colors from rich fabrics and paintings of eastern-inspired figures and designs.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, also known as Kew Gardens, are located in England. Winding paths, exotic plants, and fish ponds make the gardens a peaceful and meditative place, much like a Japanese garden. In addition to various other structures, a large Chinese pagoda and the Chokushi-Mon (a large replica of the gateway of the Nishi Hongan-ji temple in Kyoto) grace the premises. Around the Chokushi-Mon is a reconstruction of a Japanese garden.
According to Harwood, "By the middle of the 19th century, Europeans and Americans begin to lose interest in the prevailing styles, such as Greek Revival and Gothic Revival. Their desire for new and novel styles opens the door for exotic influences. At the same time, designers are looking for new sources of inspiration apart from the rampant historicism. Eclecticism, a dominant force in design during the time, encourages the exploration and appreciation of the architecture and decorative arts of other cultures" (Harwood, volume 2, p. 212).