“Light” European classics: stylization or rethinking

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“Light” European classics: stylization or rethinking
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Today, classics in its pure form exists perhaps only in museums. But here comes the paradox, the classics alone pervades almost any modern interior. As it turns out, one cannot get along in the world without that. It serves as a basis, it is argued, it is rethought. It is always around: as a benchmark, occasion for discussion, basis for creating something fundamentally new.

How to avoid falseness and props

Light, “unloaded” classic interiors, with the style shown through allusion, half-tone, unobtrusive association, have recently become increasingly popular. Let's try to understand how to create such an interior.

While the traditional classic style requires a good architecture (impeccable proportions, high ceilings — from 3.80 meters), plus significant funds invested in decoration materials (plaster stucco, mosaic parquet, wall painting and gilding, expensive plasterwork, natural marble), as well as high-quality furniture, perhaps even made from archival drawings and by the earlier manual production method, the “light” version is much less expensive and more implementable.

That is why those who honor traditions often choose not the authentic classic style but rather its “light” version. When it comes to the “light” classics, the main thing here is to create a FEELING of style. This is achieved through right proportions of the room, symmetry and balance of various parts, and monochrome color combinations. This is something that is not visible but is always well perceived by a person as an elusive order and proportionality.

“Light” European classics: stylization or rethinking

‘Finishing materials for the interior in the classic style should be natural, environmentally friendly’, says a designer, teacher at Details school and a member of the British Institute of Interior Design, Veronika Andrikhova. ‘So, for stucco work, there should be gypsum or molded paperboard, no polyurethane. Otherwise, you will get a feeling of falseness and props. It is unacceptable in the classic interior’.

Synthetic fleece wallpaper is better to be put away. While the paper, silk wallpaper or simply plastered and painted walls will do. No artificial stone and the like. Cannot buy expensive natural material? Take the plaster, travertine or sandstone after all. Everything should be genuine!

Furniture is recommended to be purchased from European factories. Yes, there are very good Chinese furniture manufacturers. But they will not make you a genuine English chair. The point here again is a sensation. The Eastern mentality is completely different from that of the English or the French. The spirit of the thing will not be a European one. Furniture should be elegant in shape, made of natural wood with good fabric or leather upholstery.

The classic style, both traditional and “light”, must indispensably contain works of art. These are not just paintings. For a “lighter” option, photographs, posters, contemporary works will be perfect. And they should be hung in a specific to the classics continuous, “carpet”, manner.

Everything doubles in the classic interior

Famous for his uniquely designed classic interiors, designer Kirill Istomin reminds: the classic style is first of all symmetry. Here everything is “paralleled”: two lamps on either side of the sofa, two classic vases framing the picture, two cupboards with open shelves, on which books and fancy articles are located, two chairs near a stylized fireplace and so on.

The classic interior is always a little parade, solemn and very respectable. In this context, it is necessary to think over the illumination. To make it both parade — with a central chandelier — and more chamber, evening — desk lamps with lampshades, bracket lamps, floor lamps, and, finally, romantic candles.

‘Bear in mind’, Kirill Istomin explains. ‘Pictures painted according to classic traditions are usually placed in frames. With the frame often becoming a source of particular pride of the owner. However, paintings of contemporary artists are usually hung in their natural form, without any framing.

Kirill himself enjoys to “play” with the classic interior. He would put super-creative chairs with bright upholstery around the dinner table of classic proportions. Or he would place an antique armchair from a flea market in a room with modern furniture. Or he would hang fashionable photos around in a typical for the classic style “carpet” manner. Why not! Modern classical manner does not oblige to reproduce an authentic style. And, you would agree, it is much more interesting, by the way.

Classics with swinging mechanism

The keyword that makes classics modern is color! Intensive local colors characteristic of modern design completely change the traditional picture.

It seems that designer Olesya Shlyakhtina has met all the classic proportions in the interior of a two-room apartment in a house of the D-25 series, the furniture outlines accurately emphasize the canonical patterns. And the Victorian table lamp is in place. But it is not classics! Instead, it is an absolutely modern interior.

To begin with, the project uses an unusual rack with a rotary mechanism, which saves a lot of space. It allows you to arrange the sofa against the wall opposite the entry and thereby clear the center of the room. In the case of the empty entry, a TV set would have to be placed in a corner, which would make it inconvenient to watch.

But the most important thing here is color! Instead of “heavy” dark maroon, brown, olive shades, there is the bright blue, juicy green, and red speckles. Against this background, milky-white wall moldings and elegant classical outlines of that very revolving shelves are especially expressive.

Why the lamp needs an umbrella while the chair — a hood

A completely unpredictable result can be obtained by parodying classics. For example, by mixing the proportions of classical furniture, distorting the volume and scale, using new modern upholstery and materials. As a result, you get chairs with a “hood” reminiscent of a stroller with the top turned up (designer Jaime Hayon), lamps under an umbrella (the joke of Philippe Starck), chairs in the style of Louis XIV, which obtained a new upholstery of psychedelic colors (the so-called “Proust” by designer Alessandro Mendini), etc.

That same Philippe Starck came up with a modern version of the fireplace draught chair (as is known, in the old days, “ears” were made specifically as a protection from fire). He also “redesigned” chairs with high Gothic backs, virtually transforming them into pieces of art.

There are a great many examples showing playful rethinking of the classics. And all this can be well used in a home interior. If not originals, replicas of original designer items made in the neoclassical style are quite affordable for purchase.

Is there need to strictly match the style?

Decorating an apartment, some designers try to fully match the style. In the end, all components of the interior are selected in careful accordance with style requirements: so, in the English classics, God forbid to add something French.

‘I believe a bit of eclecticism would do no harm to the interior’, Olga Okorokova, AvKuba studio designer, said. ‘That's why I can have a mirror-sun in the classic interior, from the art deco style. While the Victorian traditions and traditions of the French Provence are mixed in the design of the bathroom and the guest bathroom.

According to the designer, there is no need to pedantically unify furniture and accessories. It has been proven that both modern avant-garde and romance of the 50s of the last century can perfectly fit into the classic interior. The most important thing here is to correctly combine what has been selected, based on the general atmosphere of the interior.

Elena Matseiko

Editorial note: special mention should be made of the phenomenon of Soviet classics, which legacy in the modern interior we will surely cover in future publications.