Sunday, June 14, 2009

Antique terminology: ENFILADE

If you didn't catch this article on Decorati Access (my favorite online high-end design magazine), then here you go:

The word ENFILADE (pronounced "on fee LAHD") is an interesting one because it has two distinct meanings:
1. It's a very long and low French buffet (it has to have four or more cupboard doors to be an enfilade. Otherwise it's just called a buffet. Here is an 18th century cherry wood enfilade:

This particular enfilade measures almost 9 feet long and lists for $105,000 USD.

2. The other meaning of enfilade is a bit more obtuse. It's an architecture term that means a suite of rooms formally aligned with each other on an axis so as to provide a vista of the entire suite of rooms. 

Put another way, it's an alignment of open doorways or halls that draw the eye through a series of attached rooms, like the galleries at the Royal academy of arts in London:

See how one room "leads" to the next? That's an enfilade. 

Here's another enfilade, this one in the beautifully baroque Mannheim Palace in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany:
Enfilades were a common feature in the grand European palaces of the Baroque period and onwards.

You can think of this second definition enfilade as "beads on a thread". I think that's a lovely and succinct way to describe this architectural device.

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