Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, traveling the world was practically unheard of for the general population.
Before traversing the world became an everyday occurrence, traveling to Asia and other exotic destinations was an adventure. For most, the only opportunity to gain a sense of culture from other countries came from imported goods, stories, and experiences of others. People relied on decor, artwork, and fashion to connect with and experience other cultures. Blue and white porcelain was a popular export to European markets from China. Though porcelain created for export was generally of somewhat lesser quality, it truly paved the way and inspired the first chinoiserie patterns. European ceramicists had to figure out how to replicate porcelain themselves and create similar design aesthetics.
There are many fine examples of Chinoiserie across Europe, I was particularly taken in by a very fine and tastefully done interior of an early 20th century restaurant in Rouen, a city also famous for where Joan of Arc met with her tryst with destiny. The restaurant décor had retained its exquisite charm and in fact looked as fashionable today as it did a 100 years ago! Well preserved for the ages!