Boiseries

Derived from “bois”, the french word for wood, Boiseries simply means wood processing. In Interior Design it refers to walls covering wooden panels. These can be functional or decorative, modern or traditional, minimal or decorated with carvings and engravings.

Boiserie in the Prince’s Chamber of Apparatus at the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris.

Image source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiserie

History of the boiserie

This trend was born in French in the XVII sec., where it became very popular for interior decoration throughout the Baroque and late-Baroque periods. The first example of boiserie was inspired by typical themes of that period. The decoration is recalled from natural forms and floral shapes. The inlays and engravings were big and majestic almost overwhelming.

This decorative technique is based on wood processing and the aim is to create a sort of picture frames and reliefs, with different kinds of texture and ground which can be geometrical or not. These panels are repeated in the room, to decorate and customize the space starting from the walls themselves.

Ancient villa of the 18th century located in the Norman countryside

Image source: http://boiseriec.blogspot.it/2011/01/il-fascino-di-un-restauro-fedele-al.html

The panels were also on doors, wardrobes, furnishings, and separé, not only on walls. Frequently, the paintings were set in the boiseries which act as a frame of the paintings or the bas-relief.

This handcrafted decoration was very expansive and appreciated by the nobility and high French bourgeoisie. We can find numerous examples of this decoration in offices, consulting rooms, and houses belonging to the upper classes of Paris. This trend was exported throughout Europe. There are a lot of examples of this decoration inside the Palace of Versailles.

“Appartement du roi” Palace of Versailles. The room is decorated with many golden stuccos, crystal chandeliers, paintings on the walls and a “canopy” bed with red fabric embroidered with gold and silver

Image source: https://www.tes.com/lessons/n7PW8tv2PCW0AQ/immagini-cerimonie-e-riti-al-castello-del-re-sole-la-reggia-di-versailles

 

Design from the old times…

Currently, many craft productions have resumed the use of wood paneling. In Italy, the production is concentrated in the northeast (Veneto). Some of these labs are specialized in this type of boiserie which requires specific skills and experiences.

What was once a special decoration very used in stately apartments and palaces, today we rediscover it as a decorative technique and not only as carved wood panels. With the term “boiserie” we identify different systems to enhance the space, with different characteristics for different houses even the most modern ones.

Example of modern Do-It-Yourself boiserie

Image source: https://www.rifarecasa.com/ristrutturare/rivestimenti-e-finiture/boiserie

 

 …Until today

Design and fashion got used to seeing this kind of transformation and reinterpretation in a modern way, starting from a typical old decoration which was considered heavy and sickly to a new trend in terms of interior design.

Thanks to the use of sundry materials, not only wood, and the infinite possibility of shapes, colors, and textures, now this technique became incredibly versatile and adaptive to any kind of space and style.

Now it’s possible to use the traditional boiserie and give to space the old fashion of an ancient palace, or make it more modern with simple texture and metal frames, or give it a vintage touch by inserting pastel colors and fabric parts or even exaggerate with incredible complex textures engraved on wood or plaster.

 

Examples of modern paneling installed and prefabricated by expert craftsmen

 

Image source: http://www.easyrelooking.com/blog/la-boiserie-moderna-rinfrescare-gli-ambienti/

Info source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiserie