Classic Furniture Designs and their Origins

Browse through our gorgeous collection of classic Chinese designs from bygone eras, particularly the Ming and Qing dynasties. We have reproduced these recognisable designs in a variety of colours and to optimum sizes to suit both traditional and contemporary western living. Here we have outlined the origin behind some of these designs.

The Ladies Cabinet
Originally the Chinese lady’s dressing table, this wonderfully chic and slim console is perfect for a guest room or for that hallway storage just inside the front door.

The Wedding Cabinet This was the Chinese girl’s “Bottom Drawer”. Over the years the cabinet would be filled with sumptuous silks and linens. This would then be presented to the groom on the eve of the wedding as the bride’s dowry. The large circular brass plate is known as a “Togetherness Panel” and signifies the coming together of two halves.

The Altar Table
No Chinese house would have been complete without a table for a shrine with burning incense and offerings to be displayed. In the Western home an altar table creates an elegant platform against a wall or behind a sofa.

The Official’s Hat Chair
This very recognisable and traditional shaped chair was nicknamed the “Official’s Hat Chair." The extended yoke at the top of the back of the chair, with its turned out ends, resembles the fronts of the tricorn hats of the Chinese officials in the 1600s.

The Opium Table
These large, low tables, originally used as a day bed, were the domain of wealthy Chinese nobility who would sit on and around it with their opium pipes. Today, cut down to size, they make wonderfully elegant low coffee tables.

The Window Panel
These beautiful fretwork cedar wood panels were used to cover the windowless holes in Chinese houses. In winter months they would be covered with paper to keep in the warmth. Some are very contemporary in appearance with simple geometric patterns, others are more ornate and feature carved animals, people and often a fretwork longevity symbol or double happiness character in the centre.

The Medicine Cabinet
Also known as an apothecary chest. Chinese medicine has a long history of using herbs and other natural elements to cure ailments. Since so many herbs, roots and other natural items are used in traditional medicine, storage consisted of a vast number of drawers, each of which would be divided in to compartments. A Chinese character on the front of each drawer depicts the contents.

The Lute Table
Also known as a music table, this low elegant table was traditionally used for sheet music by the lute player, who would be seated on the floor. Lute players were employed to entertain Chinese nobility and the very wealthy.