What is Japonisme?

Japanese design is a big influence on Zena & Rose’s patterns.  Japan had been isolated from world for 200 years until 1859, after which there was an explosion of Japanese influence on design in the West. In the UK, this fed into the ‘Aesthetic’ movement and in France it was called ‘Japonisme’.

One of the style’s biggest fans was Arthur Liberty, founder of Liberty’s department store in London. He commissioned decorative accessories and furniture from Japanese craftspeople, like this carved side table from around 1905. In the USA, Heintz Art Metal made metallic homeware accessories with Japanese stylistic motifs like this vase. Woodblock prints and paintings (called Ukiyo-e) were especially popular, with artists such as Hokusai and Hiroshige becoming well known outside Japan. Vincent Van Gogh had a huge collection of prints which influenced his views of painting nature. Here is an example of a bird print from a book called ‘Artistic Japan’.

Liberty is still working with Japanese artists to produce contemporary textile designs for the collection ‘From Japan with Love’.

Until next time creative crew,


Liberty table

Japonisme metalware Artistic Japan print