Friday, August 22, 2008

Gustav Re-emerges To Streamline Today's Designs

In June 2007, My partner and I vacationed in Stockholm, Sweden for the first time. We fell in love with Sweden's Gustavian style. I loved the soft calming palette of the fabric and milk paint wood finishes. It felt soothing. Coincidentally, we were in the process of re-decorating many of the rooms in our home. We decided to incorporate the Swedish Gustavian style into our home. I purchased 2 sets of Parlor chairs with the goal of infusing our new Swedish influences to the Living room and Office/Library room. A set of French parlor side chairs and a pair of Victorian parlor chairs. I felt both resembled Swedish designs but needed a makeover. This project has really given me a greater appreciation for the Gustavian style. Below is a brief history of emergence of this Swedish influence on design.

A brief history from Sweden's Gustavian period
(taken from

In 1771, the future Gustav III returned to his native Sweden from the French court of Versailles to ascend the throne as king after his father’s untimely death. The young monarch had been inspired by French architecture and decorative arts and saught to create the "Paris of the North" within the borders of Sweden. Trips to France and later to Italy gave further impetus to Gustav’s passion for the classical. During his reign (1772-1792), Sweden experienced an artistic flowering, never known before. The king transformed this once removed European country into a cultural forerunner within Europe, setting a standard of style that continued well into the 19th century. Though the introduction of the Gustavian style actually predates Gustav III's reign, it was the young King that was responsible for disseminating the new style throughout the country.

Early Gustavian decoration was clearly inspired by the French Rococo and later the Neo-classical movements, but the late Gustavian style was more closely identified with Italy, after engravings from the excavations at Herculaneum and Pompeii began to circulate in Sweden. The return from Italy, of Swedish court architects and artisans such as Rehn, Adelcrantz and the Masreliez Brothers, is often seen as marking the transition between the morer romantic Early Gustavianstyle and the stricter lines associated with the furtniture of the Late Gustavian period.

Following these foreign impulses the Swedes created a more restrained or austere style of decoration more suitable for Sweden than the over embellished continental Baroque and Rococo styles.

Today it is the Gustavian that is most closely connected to Swedish style internationally and continues to inspire designers world over.

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