Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mexican Style Furniture

The Spanish influence is evident in Mexican style furniture and architecture. The elaborate wrought iron, the bright colors contrasted with washed out creams, blues and greens, and the use of leather and cotton fabrics are all derived from Spanish designs. Mexican style furniture is seen throughout the southwest United States, as well as in Mexico and Central America. Its use of natural materials blends well with the tropical climates and with the outdoor living lifestyle. Does this Spark an idea?


In the 16th century, the Spanish landed on the shores of Mexico and conquered the indigenous peoples. Captain Hernan Cortez was the first of such invaders. He brought with him a religious influence, and Catholicism became the reigning belief system. And with this system came the Franciscan monks. The monks brought an austere style to the architecture and furnishings of Mexico. Missions were built that were minimal in style and forwent ornamentation. The furnishings were simple and rustic. But Spanish Colonial landowners were more elaborate in their interiors. Furniture was large and heavy. Armoire doors were carved with imagery and chests were gilded or painted.


Contemporary Mexican furniture is a mix of Franciscan austerity and Spanish Colonial detail. But even in the most colorful and elaborate of interiors, the Franciscan restraint is evident. This mix creates an almost definitive eclectic feel to Mexican style furniture. Simple pine chairs with wicker seating are common to many Mexican households, as are heavy armoires indicative of the Spanish Colonial style. Leather upholstery is paired with brilliantly colored woven blankets. The subdued colors characteristic of the Franciscan influence are paired with the intricate carvings of wood chests.


Mexican country style furniture is often made from pine. The designs are simple. Cabinetry doors are paneled and the hardware is black or dark metal. Hinges are placed on the outside and handles are large and functional. The simplicity of design is indicative of the Franciscan influence. The Spanish Colonial style is more elaborate, with emphasis on rich colors and intricate patterns in fabrics. Spanish Colonial furniture is usually made from oak. Hinges are hidden on cabinetry, but handles are more detailed and prominent. The wood used in Mexican style furniture is usually either waxed or painted. Chests and armoires are considered important pieces of furniture, as they are used to hold objects dear to the owner.


Leather is an important part of Mexican style furniture. It is used for the seats of the barrel style reed and wicker chairs. Couches are almost always upholstered in leather. Though the dark reddish brown color is most common, white leather is popular in more contemporary Mexican interiors. The arms on chairs are usually thick, and the hand rests are curved. Often, the back and seat is upholstered in leather and decorative nail heads are used. Round pedestal tables are as popular for dining as trestle tables. Accessory pieces, such as sofa tables and end tables, tend to be smaller in scale with little ornamentation.


The Spanish influence on Mexican design dates back to the 16th century, and that influence is pervasive throughout the southwest United States as well. In Mexico, furniture is often used both indoors and out. Wicker and reed are commonly used materials for interior and exterior furniture. Dining tables are long, sometimes trestle style and used outdoors as well as in the kitchen. Wood is still the most commonly used material and it is sometimes painted in bright colors. In Arizona and New Mexico, the style is commonly referred to as "southwest style." Tables are smaller, and paint colors are more subdued. Where bright reds, yellows and greens are evident in Mexico style, the same colors are more muted in the southwest.

Tags: Mexican style furniture, Spanish Colonial, style furniture, Mexican style, 16th century