Lighting Love Lundi - Industrial Brass

After Glow F by Vincenzo de Cotiis

Hello Errrrbody! It's Lighting Love Lundi! That's Lighting Love Monday for you non-French speaking folk, which includes me. But like every Canadian kid, I was forced to learn a little bit of French in elementary school for survival purposes of course...if ever we're stuck in rural Quebec. Hungry, alone and cold with only the Francophone to save us. You never know. (Queue crickets)...

Anyway. to kick off the Lighting Love Lundi series, I'd like to discuss brass. That wondrous metal popularized in all things design around the 1970-1980s. Along with warmer metals such as gold, bronze and copper, brass was having it's moment in the spotlight. Their cooler counterpart; steel, silver and polished nickel were taking a rest from it's popularity in the mid century - of course, only to come back and reign supreme at the end of the millennium going into the following decade. As was evident of the era, brass became the metal synonymous with glamour, New Hollywood and decadence. Brass was seen in everything from furniture and lighting design to kitchen hardware and naturally, fashion. It was used in geometric and edgy forms but also more ornate and organic forms, gathering inspiration from it's use and prominence in the equally opulent Art Deco and Art Nouveau era of post-war America and Europe. It's essence of design evoked romance and refinement. Alas, as all things in pop culture go, it had it's moment and eventually we the people grew tired of it. Along with the age of flashy technology, minimalism and contemporary design, the use of chrome on almost all metal surfaces ushered back in the popularity of those cooler metals. 

Examples of circa 1970s lighting. All via 1stdibs.

Chrome, stainless steel, polished or brushed nickel and silver are still today, very popular in design and fashion, as is the use of more raw materials such as cold-pressed steel. As of right now, they don't seem like they'll be going away anytime soon. But in recent years, we saw the resurgence of bronze and gold, leading into the now trending metals of copper and brass. Like the glamorous eras of warm metals past, brass returns carrying with it it's association to decadent sophistication, but with a little bit of a twist. That twist is injected via the current trend of industrial chic (if we shall call it so). In the past half decade there has been a refocus of the collective design mind (and the consumer mind) towards industriousness and good ol' craftsmanship. There has been an appreciation for products for fashion and home that are designed and manufactured with emphasis on quality construction and no-fuss quality materials. Visual queues to a products construction (ie. rivets, screw threads, tongue and groove joinery, etc.) are not simply revealed but are in a sense, expected and desired. At it's beginnings, "industrial chic" utilized materials you'd find in the hardware store such as brushed steel or cold-pressed steel. Design was embracing the beauty of simple, but quality, made things. Soon enough, as the global recession dissipated, ornamentation and luxe finishes were vying for our attentions. And thus, as we are seeing now in a multitude of applications, warm metal "industrial chic" design is in full force. 

I love what's happening in design right now. I've always appreciated design that incorporated luxurious materials in more honest, subdued spaces. Or in contrast, the marriage of industrial and contemporary design with the glamour of classical interiors. Bridging those two worlds in an environment can sometimes be a tricky thing to accomplish. Warm brassy metal and industrial construction hits that happy medium, and what better way to show that then through lighting design. Afterall, an amazingly designed interior will never be evident or speak to it's full potential if there is bad lighting.