The look is fresh if lines are clean Design: Furniture in the Biedermeier and Directoire styles complements the sparse look of contemporary interiors.

February 02, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Trends in the field of interior design often prove short-lived. And they may now be more fleeting than ever, due to the faster and faster pace of contemporary life. Some people change the look of their surroundings as often as they change their hairstyles.

Trends in furniture, on the other hand, tend to be longer-lasting. A good example is Biedermeier styling, which remains one of the hottest furniture looks more than a decade after its revival got under way. The main reason for this relative durability, I believe, is that the factors that drove the Biedermeier resurgence in the '80s are still operating today. Its persistent popularity is a response to the continuing demand for strong and sparingly designed classical elements that complement the sparse look of contemporary interiors.

In fact, Biedermeier-type pieces are routinely used whenever an eclectically designed room is in need of an architecturally distinctive item.

A similar furniture trend is coming into view with the recent reintroduction of the French Directoire style. The motivation is the same, although the design statement is less dramatic than with Biedermeier.

The accompanying photo of a bed reveals the wonderfully restrained yet elegant Directoire look. This Baker adaptation of an 18th-century original could be used in conjunction with many modern bedroom furnishings, such as white-painted night tables or chests of drawers.

For those of you interested in the history of design, Directoire is a much-simplified version of the Louis XVI style. In its original incarnation, Directoire proved almost as fleeting as some of today's interior designs. The look lasted only about four years, reflecting the turbulence of revolutionary France toward the close of the 1700s. The style would, however, exert a strong influence on French art deco designers more than a century later.

As the photo indicates, Directoire pieces were beautifully proportioned and almost entirely unembellished. The beading, fluting and reeding serve as the bed's only decorative details.

A design so powerful in its own right does not require any added frills. No fancy fabric patterns, dust ruffles or canopies are necessary for this style of bed. This shouldn't be considered a taboo, however, since I have seen truly eclectic settings where Directoire pieces have been successfully elaborated upon.

Pub Date: 2/02/97

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