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What makes French design so, French?

8 / Aug 2019

Antique Lighting



Absorbed in thought, I stand admiring a French Gilt framed Crystal Chandelier, one of a pair in fact. “What is it about French design that makes it so, French?!” I ask Margaret. 

The chandelier I am drawn to is not fussy or blingy, it has perfect proportions and simple yet elegant crystal dressed around the gilt frame. A beautiful cylindrical piece of glass forms the long central stem with Fleur de Lis glass decoration surrounding the stem.

Margaret says two words; “Belle Epoque!” - Translated as ‘Beautiful Era’. I swoon, then promptly return to my desk to find out more…

Belle Epoque refers to the extraordinary period between 1870 and 1914, it was a time of prosperity when the economy was buoyant and the arts, music and culture thrived alongside industry and technology. Most relevant to us was the development of light bulbs and electricity for both domestic and commercial purpose. I would love to elaborate on this wonderful period of time, however, I am here to talk lighting so I will focus back to the beautiful chandeliers hanging in our showroom, evocative of this successful, optimistic period of time that I am now captivated by. 




The timeless French style is clearly visible in the pretty frilly edged, Opal glass French Coolie shade. It is petite, full of attitude and very chic. It was made during the Belle Epoque period, emerging into L’Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau 1890 - 1910, was a brand new style that took inspiration from The Arts & Crafts movement; William Morris, Arthur Lasenby Liberty and a collaboration of artists were inspired by nature, such as flowers, buds and insects. Using expressive, organic, asymmetrical curving lines, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Rene Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany were prominent artists and designers of this movement that extended throughout the world.

Much the same as the high- end handmade fashion known as Haute Couture, Fritz Fryer offer a unique bespoke design service, as well as offering choices of pendant flex colours and metal finishes on all of our products. The divine French Coolie teamed up with the flex colour of your choice would make an impact on any catwalk!

Whilst we are occupied in all things French It is only right to mention the period of Louis X1V also known as Versailles style 1643 -1715 - King Louis was a trend setter of his time. Regarded as an influencer, he determined the artistic direction and styling of his Palace, employing the best regarded architects and artists of the time to create a classical, cohesive, ostentatious look. Colours were rich and materials expensive, this was a King that set the trends of the time!

The flamboyant Rococo style (1720 - 1770) proceeded Louis X1V, with delicate curves and natural, asymmetrical shapes and paler colours, this fluid styling was much less indulgent and exuberant, however it still possessed a theatrical sense of stylisation. 

Whether glamorous and sophisticated or elaborate and extravagant, the French style is unfalteringly assured.

Joie de Vivre!

SHOP THE FRENCH LOOK HERE