Cabriole defined

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Different styles of cabriole legs. Images sourced L to R: thedesigntabloid.com, decoratingfiles.com, lesliestocker.com and carversgilders.com

If you’re the type that likes your furniture sporting curves like Jessica Rabbit then you need to add this word to your vocab. Cabriole. It’s pronounced kab-ree-ohl (for those whom phonetics is nothing more than modern hieroglyphics), and it sounds as svelte and sophisticated as the style of leg it defines.

From L to R: Paris White Dressing Table & Stool, Paris White 2 Drawer Console, Paris White TV Cabinet, Paris Oak 2 Drawer Console, and Paris Oak Office Desk from Hudson Furniture, available online at Zanui.

Cabriole describes a style of furniture leg prevalent in the late 18th century. This pairing of convex and concave curves originated in Ancient Greek and Chinese furnishings and still holds favour in antique-inspired pieces today. It takes its name from cabrioler – to leap, to caper (even) – reflecting the curve of an animal’s leg as it bounds.*

* Think a kid goat in spring!

Images sourced L to R: flickr.com, christopherguy.com and luxuryfurnituredesign.net

It’s most commonly associated with the Rococo styles of France and England – particularly the furniture design of Louis XV, and the Queen Anne (English monarch from 1702-1714) and Chippendale** styles in England. Its export to the US influenced almost all of the furniture produced during the mid to late 18th century .

From L to R: Rococo White Bed, Rococo Black Right Chaise, Madrid Oak Sofa, Love Oak Single Chaise, Marcella Oak Bergere Chair, and Marcella White Bergere Chair from Hudson Furniture, available online at Zanui.

** Named after the fashionable 18th century cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale (1719-1780) (not that infamous spandex-wearing dance crew). Thomas was renowned for his skill at wielding wood, his self-aggrandising authorship (TC penned the first book of cabinetry designs) and his claiming the British Rococo as his own. A healthy ego is a good ego…

The grandeur and opulence of Rococo. Images sourced L to R: appleday.tumblr.com, juliettesinteriors.co.uk and jaded-mandarin.tumblr.com

Its characteristic scroll-style leg curves at the “knee” and again at the “ankle”, finishing in a bun or pad foot. This sinuous line effects a striking elegance. As delicious and decadent as a religieuse au chocolat.***

***The mother of all chocolate éclairs.

Keen to get whittling? In the DIY spirit, we found this nifty vid to show you how. 😀

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.