05 December 2012

Classical Chinese Furniture


for the love of a book-this one lays out  the topic-Chinese Furniture- as works of Art-and within its pages there are beautiful sculptural pieces that happen to function.
when art and function unite we find the most timeless-and Yes-beautiful Art.

The book opens up the world of Chinese decorative arts and furniture from the 16th through 18th centuries with exemplary antiques made from exotic woods,veneers and lacquer.

Marcus Flacks, author of Classical Chinese Furniture, writes "many of the pieces are exceptionally rare and many have never been reproduced in books or catalogs...pieces that surprised me for their innovation, rarity, antiquity or sometimes their sheer beauty."

The photography by Brian Morris, Prudence Cummings, Ornan Rotem,Num Stibbe, Steve Williams & Maggie Nimkin is truly exquisite. Pieces float on white paper and are featured on full pages-defining details of intricate wood grain, patina and line-while some of the decorative art pieces are set on silver metallic paper. The design of the book- by Ornan Rotem  is equal to-and perhaps surpasses the photography in the book. Rich red paper with small white type announce categories in the book and small photographs of the subject appear below. The book's jacket is shown in the first photo, while the book is a deep red with raised type and raised decoration.

Fine drawings by Chinese artists like Dajing Qian enhance the book's text.

Art like the map below illustrate the book and Chinese characters describe the pages alongside English text.
a Map of China made from tieli wood by Ai Wei Wei, 2005

In the introduction author Flacks discusses his reasons for the book-while settling on the advice of a friend and creating a book encompassing all the elements of Chinese furniture he loves-the book itself  is a work of Art-something Flacks must adore.


available here at Vendome Press


  1. What a beautiful book, I'll have to keep an eye out for it. The way the pieces are lit up really displays the grain of the wood, and currently I am trying to improve on identification of Chinese woods.

  2. This book fills a huge gap in current Western understanding/appreciation of Chinese furniture. Thanks for the heads-up.

  3. Classical Chinese furniture seems to have it all: comfortable and useful, well made, and sculptural.

  4. Is there anything the Chinese can't excel at?

  5. It really is an exquisite book-topic-and presentation. I think it will be a treasure to own for years to come.

  6. This book looks like a "must have" for any good design library, and the designs are relevant, I think, with their considered forms, and subtle details like a discrete beading, the attenuation of the parts for design of new furniture made today, even if not in the Chinese style. Just the examples shown here in your post, the stool and the armchair, have such elegance and masterful forms that collectors of Chinese classical furniture prize. San Francisco had at one time some fine examples of classical Chinese furniture in a few galleries and in private collections -1950's to the 1980's. It was certainly part of the aesthetic unique to the city. Then in the 1990's there was a glut of lesser quality Chinese furniture here in the US, combined with dubious antiquities really turned off the demand for the pieces. All of this has had a dramatic turnaround recently, with Chinese buyers buying pieces back at auction, returning them back to China and at auction commanding stratospheric prices. In or out of the vagaries demand, these designs are truly timeless.

  7. And then there's the joinery. Amazing.

  8. Have not read about this book anywhere and it's a subject worth investigating and a visual feast as a bonus.....what could be better.



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