english renaissance // DESIGN HISTORY

The English Renaissance dated from the late 15th century to the early 17th.  English architecture and interiors were more influenced by Northern Europe than they were Italy or France, so the styles vary greatly from their European counterparts.  While the English Renaissance featured more simplified designs and patterns than their Italian and French counterparts, many of these elements are still incorporated into today’s designs.  English buildings of the time often featured medieval elements, and the now classic half timber construction which is now referred to as “Tudor Style.”  While we are focused more on the roof, you can see a great example of half timber in the inspirational photo below from Little Morton Hall.  


Chapel Royal at Hampton Court + Graffiti Café in Bulgaria

There may be nothing more spectacular than the carved wood (WOOD!) ceiling at the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court.  Decorations rise up from the walls to “bloom” in geometric patterns above around a brightly painted ceiling meant to mimic the starry sky.  It is so lovely, in fact that I cannot help but include two photos instead of one!

The dramatic ceiling in the Graffiti café in Bulgaria is an inspiration all in its own.  It starts with curved wood slats that begins on the pillars continues up to the ceiling, as though the columns are blooming on the ceiling.  


Little Morton Hall + A Napa Valley Gem

This recalls the design of the Little Moreton Tudor house which also appears as though there are a series of buildings that are pushed together along with a high gabled roof.

This Hugh Newell Jacobsen-designed Napa home features a gable roof set at 90 degrees from a classic gable that tops a series of asymmetrical buildings.  


Charlecote Park Manor House + Clever Modern Designs

One of the characteristics of English Mid-Renaissance architecture was diapered brickwork, a method of placing brick in a pattern by using bricks of different color and shape.  

Seeing that the use of brick was waning in Europe, a brick company sponsored a product innovation exhibition encouraging local architecture firms to participate.  The designs by Rob Bonneur and Julia Voightman both carries back to the diapered brick of the past, while adding unique modern elements, such as geometric trompe l’oeil patterns.


This sofa from Luminaire shares several features with the classic Knole, including: high, angled arms that don’t connect to the seat back, deep seat and high back, and wood that runs along the bottom of the sofa. 


William & Mary Daybed + Anthropologie Daybed

The English Baroque period is defined as the period that following the Great Fire of London in 1666.  (Interestingly, the Chicago School of Architecture was a period that also followed a fire, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, but we’ll get to that in a future post.)  While the architecture wasn’t of particular importance, the sub-movements in furniture have stood the test of time.  Mainly the William & Mary period which moved from England to Colonial America where it became its own separate style.

Caned furniture gained popularity in the 1970s but it was generally found on simple chairs that were more in the Greek klismos or Queen Anne styles.  This modern longue or daybed instead sits on four turned legs with a substantial foot and decoration at the top of the leg.  This William & Mary lounge also had a caned bottom with ornate turned legs.

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