Inspired by this photo taken for Vogue (June 2007) and curious as to the origin of Colonial Style, I did some research this week into a style that combines the tropics and african safari together with asian influence to produce such an incredibly unique design style.
The dictionary meaning; 1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a colony or colonies: British colonial rule | colonial expansion.
- relating to the period of the British colonies in America before independence.
- (esp. of architecture or furniture) made during or in the style of this period.
left me none the wiser as to how such a combination of features had merged to become a look all of its own. Then I stumbled across the following information.
By the late 19th century, under the reign of Queen Victoria, the British Empire had crept into parts of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
British colonists had merged their traditional style with the practicalities of a completely different climate. Forced to use local materials, ebony, teak, mahogany, rattan, wicker and animal hide crept into the designs, and while refined items were imported from Britain, that elegance was tempered with the realities of life: the need to stay cool and the available local resources. So essentially, thanks to the reign of an ugly Queen responsible for a huge expansion of the British Empire, we now have a harmonious blend of styles that tell a story of travel and discovery. One that combines beautifully crafted hardwood furniture with wicker, rattan and animal print sporting spots and stripes. Gauzy curtains and linen teamed with rope and horn in rooms embellished with foliage, vintage maps, botanical prints and images of wild animals. The key pieces have a portable quality; safari trunks, directors chairs and lanterns contrasting with heavy upholstered pieces and larger asian inspired furniture. The completed look has a dreamy, naturally comfortable vibe that I have fallen in love with……..
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the expansion of the British Empire also coincides with the most flourishing era in the history of piracy……………ironic considering Kiera Knightley inspired this post!