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Color Inspiration - Boulle marquetry (French 17-18th C.)

By: Xavier Hardison

September 10, 2023

Recently, I've been inspired a lot by furniture. Specifically, furniture from France in the 17th and 18th centuries. Perfected by French furniture designer, André-Charles Boulle, the technique called "boulle marquetry" has had a great impact on the visual language behind my X-Artifacts...

When I look at a piece of art, I analyze a number of components. Primarily, I look at the materials used, the color scheme, and the forms (shapes) presented. This applies whether I'm looking across a vast landscape painting, viewing a B&W photograph, or admiring a massive tapestry. In my work, I aim to infuse my personality into each of these 3 criteria. I use sandstone and gold leaf for my materials because I value art which feels natural. My color scheme typically consists of neutral hues & slight tonal variations because I admire subtlety when crafting a palette. Then, I often incorporate my logo as a design element because the form is symbolic of my heritage and the shape represents my core values.

Beautiful furniture requires similar attention to these characteristics...

This piece above is one of the best examples of boulle marquetry. The commode is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) in New York, and is made of walnut veneered with ebony, as well as engraved brass and tortoiseshell.

Personally, I admire the color palette used in boulle marquetry over other criteria: Materials, Color, and Form. There is high contrast between the deep umber (brown) and the gold, yet the hues are still harmonious and aren't at odds on the color wheel. Essentially, brown is a super deep value of yellow while gold is a very light value of yellow. In my opinion, the contrast within their proximity makes the combination appealing.

Stay tuned for other insights into what inspires my X-Artifacts!

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