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Chic Coromandel Screens

by habituallychic

01 . 23 . 11
A Coromandel screen consists of wooden folding panels coated in black or dark lacquer usually carved and sometimes decorated with  jade, semi-precious stones, shell, or porcelain. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “although these screens were probably made in northern or central China during the Kangxi period (1661–1722) of the Qing dynasty, they received their name from India’s Coromandel coast, where they were transshipped to Europe in the late 17th and early 18th centuries by merchants of the English and French East India companies.”
Coco Chanel was famous for owning over 32 Coromandel screens that decorated her 31 rue Cambon apartment in Paris.  In some areas she applied them to the walls like wallpaper. “I’ve loved Chinese screens since I was eighteen years old… I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a Chinese shop I saw a Coromandel for the first time. Screens were the first thing I bought,” she said. Even today, many interior designers and home owners carry on her appreciation of Coromandel screens in their own interiors.  They work in any room but I especially love them hung or displayed behind a sofa.  Enjoy!

Coco Chanel

Chanel Apartment, 31 rue Cambon

Coco Chanel

Chanel Apartment, 31 rue Cambon

Coco Chanel

Chanel Apartment, 31 Rue Cambon

Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel Coromandel Screen Detail

Chanel Apartment, 31 rue Cambon

Pamela Skaist Levy residence designed by Peter Dunham.
Charlotte Moss

Michael Smith

Michael Smith Houses

Ellen Graham residence from New York Social Diary

Babe Paley Residence

Alessandra Branca

Norman Norell via Peak of Chic

Suzanne Tucker

Windsor Smith

Lisa Fine in Elle Decor

Kim Alexandruik

Comments Closed

  1. Tabitha January 23, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    I can’t bear Chinoiserie but what a wonderful word, thank you for that!

  2. Somethings Gotta Give January 23, 2011 | 5:17 pm

    You made my morning………a post about my fav icon Coco!!! So classic. Lov’n the screens.

  3. Heidiopia January 23, 2011 | 5:32 pm

    These have always seemed so heavy and bold to me, but putting all the photographs together the way you did has opened my eyes! What beautiful statement pieces.

  4. Brittany {Gallery No. Eight} January 23, 2011 | 5:55 pm

    Beautiful pieces! I hadn’t heard of them before but they look amazing!

  5. Modern Country Lady January 23, 2011 | 6:24 pm

    Just about the chic-est thing ever! Gorgeous!!

  6. ruffledrose.com January 23, 2011 | 7:07 pm

    I’ve always loved the Chinoisiry look of screens. Such an interesting spatial concept, too.

  7. Design in the Woods January 23, 2011 | 7:17 pm

    I’ve always loved these screens in Coco Chanel’s apt. Great collection of projects.

  8. Paul Gervais de Bédée January 23, 2011 | 7:36 pm

    Nicely put together all this, like a screen in which every wing has an effect on its neighbor. The screen is such a welcome antidote to the wall, which can be so dull no matter what color you paint it.

  9. John J. Tackett January 23, 2011 | 8:48 pm

    I once had the great experience of improving an apartment at 820 Fifth Av, NYC, where the Powder Room was panelled with a rare blue background screen, expanded with strips of mercury glass mirror to provide the extra material needed. __ The Devoted Classicist

  10. jones January 24, 2011 | 12:58 pm

    I’ve had and sold many Coromandel screens–18th through early 20th c. examples–favorite color has to be the deep chocolate brown for the softness that it brings. But I think that I love Chinese and Japanese paper screens even more–scholar screens, hawk screens, monkey screens, calligraphy screens, four season screens………….so beautiful and ethereal and a lot easier to move. Stay warm, I just checked the weather report for NYC (as my daughter is there right now) and it is bloody cold. Mary

  11. Laura Casey Interiors January 24, 2011 | 2:16 pm

    I love all the screens and images of Coco Chanel, beautiful post.

  12. Jeanne C. Holbrook January 24, 2011 | 3:49 pm

    I have always loved Coco’s apartment. My love for coromandel screens began with Coco’s apartment. I dont know if anyone has done it better. The thing I love the most about Coco’s apartment is the pale cinnamon biege she used on the walls and many of the fabrics. The color is perfect. It is not peach or biege. It goes with the color of her screens but over and above “matching” the sccreens it is the most flattering color and it is a rich and cozy color at the same time. Imagine sitting by the fire, on a cold winter night, in cinnamon chairs in a cinnamon room.

  13. Splenderosa January 24, 2011 | 4:43 pm

    The Rosenkras room is my favorite, but I love the screens. I have a 4-paneled one hanging on my dining room wall, the minute you open the front door it can be seen and sets the stage for all the rest. Brilliant post!!

  14. Diane Bergeron January 28, 2011 | 12:08 am

    Ugh, Coco Chanel’s pieces are so timeless! I absolutely love Peter Dunham’s designs, what a nice touch with the peony ginger jar in the background. And Lisa Fine’s fabrics look stunning, the colour scheme is spot on.

    “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”- Coco Chanel

  15. Erica January 31, 2011 | 11:46 pm

    i had the honor of stepping foot into madame chanel’s apartment at 31 rue cambon and it is breathtaking. truly a historical site.