" Brass is definitely the new black." Jaime Rummerfield, Los Angeles
Quoted in Luxe Interiors + Design, New York | Winter 2015
As winter goes on, we take comfort from the small things: a certain slant of light that comes in through the window when the sun is out; the smell of a favorite soap and the warmth of the water washing our hands; a cashmere blanket we keep draped over a comfortable chair, waiting for us to come back to it and read or watch a movie; a beloved copper kettle in the kitchen, whistling to let us know our next cup of tea will soon be ready to slowly sip and savor. We find ourselves gravitating to the kitchen, where the heat of stove and oven and the rituals of food preparation keep us warm and occupied. And here, in the kitchen, we may find many small copper delights: a favorite drinking tumbler or mug, an old beautiful pan, a quickly-heating pot, flour and sugar and coffee stowage canisters.
Like many of you, we love copper here at Hudson Valley Lighting. Hammered, it makes a breathtaking bathroom sink or a gorgeous top for an at-home bar. Throughout the Hudson Valley, independently owned distilleries have been cropping up, like Hudson / Tuthilltown, Black Dirt, Kings County, and Widow Jane, housing enormous copper stills that are at once makers of exceptional whiskey and magnificent to behold. Copper has a timeless beauty to it.
Copper has been loved since time immemorial. But it is not always the most practical metal. As Jefferson Lab Science Education points out,"pure copper is usually too soft for most uses." For more dependable results, people learned to develop brass and bronze. Jefferson Lab presents a quick historical and scientific sketch:
People first learned about 5,000 years ago that copper can be strengthened if it is mixed with other metals. The two most familiar alloys of copper are bronze and brass. Bronze, the first alloy created by people, is a mix of copper that contains as much as 25% tin. Early people used bronze to make tools, weaponry, containers and ornamental items. Brass, a mix of copper that contains between 5% and 45% zinc, was first used about 2,500 years ago. The Romans were the first to make extensive use of brass, using it to make such things as coins, kettles and ornamental objects.
Ah, brass. Long considered one of the eighties' many excesses, brass is back and it is looking beautiful. Martha Stewart called it a year ago, and she was right. By the time of the High Point Market last year, its ascendancy was on full-throttle, and now the internet is running rampant with drool-worthy luxury applications, large and small. Stewart says, "People are rediscovering its beauty." Kevin Sharkey, SVP and Executive Editorial Director, Decorating, as well as Executive Creative Director, Marketing, at Martha Stewart Living, comments, "Brass is timeless, warm, and inviting. There's a reason people are drawn to it. Adding it to a room is like crowning the space with an amazing jewel." Once common, it now gives off an air of unimpeachable wealth and taste.
Set against white or marble, it is the height of elegance.
Hudson Valley Lighting Alpine in kitchen // Courtesy of Design Manifest
Paired with wood, it is warm masculinity incarnate.
With black, it is unstoppable.
Kitchen of Ali Cayne, Manhattan | Image Source: This is Glamorous
Upon seeing a brass-heavy showing at last spring's High Point Market, Vicki Payne, designer and producer of the show For Your Home, said, "It is not shiny. The look is much warmer and has a softer finish... But make no mistake about it: While the finish may be vintage, the styles are modern and trendy." Payne hits the nail on the head, though, with her final point: "Vintage brass is best paired with warmer, darker painted walls. Navy, brown and black provide the perfect backdrop. This is not a trend you can partially embrace. The overall look, while contemporary, is pure luxury at its finest."
Walking into a living room or hallway painted a bold dark color with brass and bronze accents is like a full-body version of biting into a 72% dark chocolate bar. Some people have trepidation about "going dark," thinking it might be depressing. This is a totally valid fear. Farrow & Ball, in their 2014 Inspiration book, have a couple of great recommendations about this. "By using dark colours in a hallway," they argue, "you can instantly make the other rooms off the hallway seem ardently brighter, and bigger. Meander into a lighter room from a dark space, and it's bound to feel cavernous." They go on to provide excellent counsel about making the best of a room with little natural light. "Most of us have a small room that does not exactly benefit from natural light, and we all share an urge to paint it eye-wateringly white to force it to feel brighter. But rather than unwittingly creating a doctor's waiting room in your downstairs bathroom; instead use warm, darker colours or even bold patterned wallpapers to create a dramatic, yet intimate atmosphere."
This idea really got us thinking. The internet is rife with heady images of dark sultry rooms with flashes of brass. A bookcase, a low table such as coffee table or sofa table, a distinctive paper weight, a bar cart, a vase, a candle holder, an obelisk. There are so many brass options to complement a room in a subdued color. Then we thought back to our last post about Marsala, where Leatrice Eiseman, in the video we shared, said of the color: "I love to see it as a layered color...Layering it as far as a paint color is concerned, or as far as any texture is concerned—layering it with other metallics, in particular, like the bronzey tones, the umber, anything that has that brown coppery feel is obviously going to a be a natural."
We have long been lovers of brass and bronzey tones here at Hudson Valley Lighting. Most of our fixtures are available in some variety of nickel and/or chrome (for the cool side) and bronze and brass (for the warm side). Our fixtures fit into a wide variety of styles, not only through the various periods and design schools we draw inspiration from, but through the diversity of finishes we offer: Brushed Bronze, Aged Brass, Distressed Bronze, and Old Bronze, to name a few. A wall sconce of ours in aged brass in a dark hallway like Farrow & Ball suggests, picture lamps in distressed bronze in a masculine study, or a centerpiece like Travis in aged brass in an opulent living room can be just the thing that pulls the room together into a unified whole.
We harvested quite a collection of copper, brass, and bronze to dazzle the eyes on our Pinterest. Have a look-see and tell us what you think. Is it a good thing that brass is back? Are you ready to go bold and do a dark room at home? Do you have a copper object at home that gives you pleasure all through the year?
Read more here.