In the past few years the use of metallic finishes within our homes has expanded dramatically. The design industry has moved on from the clinical appearance of chrome, opting instead for the warmer and more luxurious tones offered by brass, rose gold and copper.
Many see Tom Dixon, the original ‘King of Copper,’ as responsible for spearheading this movement. His latest collection seen at Salone Del Mobile 2015, has expanded to include brass, however his work with copper continues via accessories and objets.
The metallic theme is neither new or groundbreaking. Trends are cyclical in nature and the market’s attraction to these finishes closely relate to the concurrent mid-century focus. Before chrome and stainless steel dominated the market throughout the 90s and 00s, finishes were varied.
The 60s and 70s saw brutalist metalwork became popular via designers such as Phillip & Kelvin Laverne and Curtis Jere who began experimenting with bronze and iron. From the mid 70s to the 80s, designs became more elegant and refined. Brass, gold and copper started featuring more heavily alongside more luxurious and exotic materials such as shagreen and mother of pearl.
Today the trend for using metals is big, yet more refined and subtle than these previous eras. Designers now use metals either to create contrast or embolden a minimal design. Today’s trend has also permeated more subsections of the industry than before. Advances in technology have allowed designers to incorporate metal into wallpaper, flooring and a larger range decorative accessories than ever before.
Here we introduce you to some of the leading and up and coming designers that best showcase this trend:
Founded by ex- Established and Sons Design Director Mark Holmes, Minimalux have produced this stunning polished brass shelving unit. Comprised of 33 precision milled metal bars, this piece represents the company’s first foray into furniture design.
Representative of the modern day ‘hash symbol’, Mark opted for brass due to the rich natural patina it takes on over time: ‘Part of the attraction in this is the idea that if it is nurtured and taken care of it will last forever – a refreshing concept in this day and age and our present throw-away culture.
Known for their existing range of desk ware, tableware and accessories, all products in their range are of an exceptionally high quality and manufactured in the UK.
Rod+Weave is a minimalist collection of chairs, created by California-based designer Eric Trine. Having only graduated in 2014, this chair originally formed part of his graduate school project, titled ‘The 5 Chairs Project’, and was the second made in the series. The chair’s simplistic form is available in a range of finishes, including powder coated, polished brass and rose gold frames and a selection of leather options.
By using both a polished metal frame with a woven seat detail, Eric’s design manages to combine two of the furniture industry’s most popular themes. Currently exhibiting at New York’s Design Week, where he is showcasing a limited edition version (top right), Eric has also agreed to collaborate with a fashion designer and illustrator Ellen Van Dusen who will be making the fabric for one of his new chairs.
With almost 50 years experience in highly technical metalworking, US based designer Amuneal made the move into furniture in the last 15 years. Their Collector’s Shelving System represents a stunning example of minimalist design combined with handcrafted workmanship. Inspired by the in-house archives of industrial and scientific artefacts, this piece features a solid brass frame supporting oxidised oak shelving. The credenza units are constructed from solid hardwood along with sliding aluminium doors in a dark patina.
Amuneal incorporates metal into many of their designs, often using unique and specialist techniques. Their I-Beam Table, inspired by New York’s skyscraper boom of the early 20th century features metabolised inlays within the reclaimed timber table top. Available in a range of bespoke finishes, this unique interpretation on the industrial theme provides this piece with a rare elegance.
MICHAEL ANASTASSIADES LTD
Establishing his studio label in 2007, London based designer Micahel Annastasiandis is renowned for his award winning lighting. Making up almost 80% of his overall commissions, his collection of hand crafted pieces are minimal and comprise mostly geometric shapes.
Mainly working with reflective materials (often choosing polished bronze and brass) his work extends to table top objet, jewellery and furniture. In 2012, Michael opened his first shop and gallery space in Southwark. Also serving as his home and studio, this has provided a unique opportunity to showcase current projects alongside a selection of finished pieces.
Bratislava based designers, Medj Studio recently exhibited their latest creation in April’s Salone Del Mobile. Titled ‘Exhibit,’ this minimalist brass light is can be hanged from the ceiling or alternatively used as a table lamp.
Drawing inspiration from museum exhibited artefacts encased within glass cubes, the brass lights and bowls have been embedded within their polished bar frame. With the top half sphere serving as the shade for the bulb, the bottom half can also be used as a bowl.
Copenhagen studio GamFratesi exhibited their collection of ‘Karui’ trays for Skultuna in January’s Maison D’Objet. A collaboration with Skultuna, these trays feature a brass spun frame formed via metal spinning – a process invented by the 400 year old metalworks company. Comprised of 3 models, the coloured leather discs used for the surfaces were provided by neighbouring tannery Tärnjö.
Stine Gam commented on the design philosophy for the trays: “The trays are called ‘Karui’ which in Japanese means soft (in relation to the leather part) but also light (the trays have a light aesthetic). Japanese gives other meanings as well, such “easy/easily” “quick perhaps” which is the informal feeling we want with the trays, place and take our personal things on the tray becoming a functional and personal easy everyday gesture.”
Skultuna’s metalworks team often choose to work with independent designers. Previous collaborations include Folkform, who created a geometric shaped bookend (right) and Stockholm studio Cleasson Koivisto Rune, who exhibited her ‘Face’ collection of three solid brass coat hooks at Stockholm Design Week. (above right).