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Book Review :: Classical Chinese Furniture

My love for classical Chinese furniture grew while living in San Francisco. Like many, I’m naturally drawn to the innovation, beautiful lines and iconic forms of Chinese antique furniture. It’s some of the finest furniture ever made and can make a ho-hum room come alive. And best yet, it’s a timeless look.

Classical Chinese Furniture by Marcus Flacks

In the new book, Classical Chinese Furniture by Marcus Flacks, the art of Chinese furniture of the 16th-18th centuries is explored and celebrated.  He begins by giving a brief history of Chinese furniture starting with the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). He discusses how the Ming period (14th-16th centuries) directly influenced the “golden age” spanning the late 16th to the early 18th century. Like the furniture itself, the book is simple in nature. Flacks showcases 52 masterpieces – all exemplary, exquisite and rare.

Antique Chinese Furniture - Table Detail

“I have tried to avoid the predictable as much as possible, focusing on the pieces that I felt took the designs or concepts under-lying classical Chinese Furniture that little step further; pieces that surprised me for their innovation, rarity, quality, antiquity or sometimes their sheer beauty.” explains Flacks.

Chinese Rose Chair with S Shaped Spindles

After discussing trends in collecting Chinese furniture (dating, materials, condition, etc.), Flacks launches into the first piece of furniture: the Rose Chair with ‘S’ – Shaped Spindles (Huanghuali wood, 17 – early 18th century). He describes the extraordinary spindle chair as “one of the most surprising and exciting” pieces he has ever handled.

Chinese Root Stool Ming Style

One of my favorite pieces, the Root Stool (18th century) caught me by surprise. Perhaps it’s because the rich tradition of Chinese root furniture is often overlooked by historians. In it’s most natural form, the root stool (this one in the Ming style)  is a beautiful marriage of craftsmanship and nature.

Chinese Drum Stools in White Marble

In the appendices, Flacks continues to share invaluable information by diving a little deeper into the secrets of timber, joinery, regional production and the art of restoration.

Design experts will apprecite Classical Chinese Furniture’s rich content the most. However it’s a book all can enjoy and would make a wonderful addition to any coffee table or design library.

- Cristin

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Read full story By on December 3, 2012 in antiques, book review, chinoiserie, Features, furniture