The Aesthetics of Fashion, Home Design and Antique Rugs in 20th Century Scandinavia, 19th Century France and 17th Century Persia
One of the most interesting aspects of buying vintage carpets and antique rugs is learning more about the cultures that created them. In this post, we’ll take a look at three different time periods, on three different continents, and the design and aesthetics that each culture created, including the beautiful vintage rugs and antique carpets in Nazmiyal’s inventory that came from these cultures.
Mid Century Scandinavian Design
Scandinavian design of the 20th Century, above all else, is functional and without frills. The harsh climate of the region, coupled with the culture’s heavy emphasis on survival and making one’s own way contributed to the idea that the usefulness of manufactured products is more important than the products’ ornamentation. This is not to say, however, that Scandinavian design isn’t beautiful.
The simple shapes and minimal decorations that Scandinavian design utilizes make for products that are cleanly modern and a pleasure to use. Contemporary Icelandic product designer Katrín Eyþórsdóttir, who has written extensively on the subject of Mid-20th Century Scandinavian design, sums up the era’s design personality as “beautiful, simple, clean designs, inspired by nature and the northern climate, accessible and available to all, with an emphasis on enjoying the domestic environment”.
Like other Scandinavian design of the mid-20th century, vintage Scandinavian rugs are minimal yet beautiful. Relying on geometric designs, colorblocking, and symmetry, vintage Scandinavian rugs are cheerful and modern-looking.
19th Century French Design
The design aesthetic of late 19th Century France is complex; it overlapped with the austere and elaborate fashions of the Victorian age, but was also highly influenced by the style of the newly-opened far east, and a flourishing trade between Western Europe and China and Japan. These two styles collided to form the ornate and elaborate aesthetic of late 19th Century France, falling under the international umbrella of Art Nouveau.
This style is characterized by fluid, curving lines, and a flat, two-dimensional look. In interior design and the decorative arts, popular motifs during this time period were stylized florals, elaborate iron gating, and gold leafing. Wooden furniture was stained dark, and tended to be heavily carved, while fabrics like velvet and brocade were popular for upholstery.
Floral designs dominate the rugs of late 19th Century France, although pictorial rugs depicting hunting motifs and mythological & biblical scenes were also popular. The light colors of antique French Aubusson rugs, which were popular during this time period, call to mind the earlier Rococo period of the 18th century.
17th Century Persian Design
The late 17th Century in Persia was a time of great cultural and artistic growth for the region. It was at the height of the Safavid Dynasty, during which crucial bureaucratic and cultural initiatives would be put into place.
The Safavids were avid patrons of the arts, which led to advancements in Persian painting, artisanal craft, and architecture. Safavid era design is known for using ornate and detail designs, incorporating naturalistic and religious motifs. Some of the most intricate and beautiful Persian carpets were woven at this time, and Nazmiyal is lucky to have several Safavid-era Persian carpets in our collection.