In the era of Bold & Gold, scale was over the top. Everything was big and many times larger than life. If the piece donned an acanthus leaf carving, it was done with the real size of the actual leaf at 16 inches long and 10 inches wide, and done in gilt. No wonder columns made a fierce return (next to four-car garages). And we all had to wear shades.
Later in the 90's, the hair relaxed, the excess exhausted itself, and we shifted into a new era. The scale tipped from XXL (Or XXXL in some cases) to a more moderate human scale. Neoclassicism breezed in and stayed a while. Environmental intimacy returned.
In a way, this re-emergence was more aligned with historical royalty. If you were to visit Versailles and see the king's actual sleeping quarters, you'd find that he rested in a room behind a room. It was a relatively small space, a clean environment. See, they weren't able to heat up the palatial beds so those rooms were actually fronts for cozier and more pragmatic spaces. Marie Antoinette's apartments are a great example. They were also so small, you'd actually want to squeeze their cheeks. They called it the Petit Trionon, a 300 square foot space where she felt more comfortable. Royalty and petite co-existed in harmony.
We are following course today. With urban density, people are living in smaller spaces. Even the wealthy have their little pied de terre - and with that, less exaggerated and more scaled-down design. It's at this juncture that we locate the roots of Danish and Swedish Modern through Gustav III. In fact, it was Gustav III of Sweden who went incognito to France on “Le grand tour" specifically to take in French and Italian design. He went as a commoner and spent several months in Paris. What he saw fused into what he created - Gustaviansk furniture.
Even contemporary royalty follows this logic. Queen Elizabeth lives in a shoebox most of the time. The Balmoral Castle is exquisite because, among other traits, the inside is small and intimate. Even the furniture is pared down for comfort at a scale designed for living. For every photograph of her perched in a grand parlor, in her private castle is a delicate trinket, from seashell to ephemeral letter.
Featured above: PAIR OF FRENCH EMPIRE STYLE GILDED BRONZE APPLIQUES. Discover more about these pieces here.