Related Articles: History of British Furniture Styles
Influences from beyond Europe (1840 - 1900):
Overseas travel and trade generated a greater awareness of countries and cultures outside Europe. Designers began to draw from Asia, North Africa and southern Spain. China had already had an established influence, and now bamboo furniture was imported from Japan. India had a strong influence on designers as well, in the form of flat patterns of Indian chintzes and embroidery, flowering plant designs and "paisley". Islamic style came from influences from Iran, Turkey, north Africa and southern Spain. Patterns of intertwining flowers and leaves, as well as the use of turquoises, blues, greens and reds could be seen.
Influence of Japan (1860 - 1900):
Of all the non-European sources available to British designers in the Victorian period, it was Japanese art and design that had the greatest impact. Circular motifs were particularly popular. Crests, called "mon" appeared in combination with geometric patterns. Natural motifs, such as flowers, birds and even insects were very popular. Furniture was sometimes stained to make the wood black; this ebonizing was done to emulate Japanese lacquer.
Source: The V&A Guide to Period Styles by Anna Jackson