New trend for 2014: Copper

Original uses for Copper

Last year saw the popularity of bold metallic finishes like stainless steel; give way to softer metallic finishes like brass and copper. Copper has always been a popular choice in interior design but it saw resurgence towards to the end of last year and it shows no signs of letting up. A reaction to the vintage upcycling trend, we now see interiors leaning towards a more polished, individual and high end feel.

Being an ancient material, it was initially used to produce tools and weapons long before it became a commercially used material in the design world. It became a staple of the art world during the 15th century where it was used to create sculptures and other decorative items, as ancient Greek and Roman techniques were brought to the forefront. This typically took the form of bronze casting [bronze being an alloy of copper and tin], and enabled artists to work with a material that was strong, yet showed intricate details. It has always been a widely used material in not only the art world but also jewellery design. The images below illustrate a copper sculpture from Arik Levy’s Rock Series, the VOID V01 watch in a copper finish by David Ericsson and a floating island made of copper and moss [from their showcase at The Workshop Gallery] by Outofstock designers.

   Copper01

Aside from its obvious pleasing aesthetics and flexibility of use, perhaps another reason why copper is enjoying a renewed popularity, is the interesting way it ages. Kaikado are a company that create Japanese tea caddies out of copper, brass, tin and silver.

The image below and left illustrates how with regular contact, the finish of a tea caddy will change colour and the texture will become smoother. The properties of copper mean that each tea caddy that Kaikado creates is unique and becomes personal to the owner, potentially within a matter of months depending on how much it is used.

 copper02

This same aging process also affects the Copper Real Good Chair by Blu Dot. This chair is copper plated and the fact that it naturally takes on a patina over time was intended by the designer, and as with the tea caddies this results in a unique look.

  copper03

Copper looks even more spectacular on a larger scale, and is increasingly seen in the form of wall coverings. Below are two contrasting examples of how copper can be used to great effect, regardless of the room scheme being employed. The left image is actually a photograph printed on to copper panels; adding depth to the wall whilst still allowing some of copper’s reflective qualities to shine through and lighten the interior. The right image demonstrates how copper can be used in an already quite bright interior to add warmth as well as help lighten the space, without causing glare.

  copper04

Emry Architects have taken the use of copper even further and applied it in a recent architecture project. They recently completed the reconstruction of GMS Estates office in Bloomsbury, London. Their existing office occupied two Georgian town houses, which, being listed buildings, brought a whole new set of regulations to the project. This resulted in the construction of a space at the rear of the office featuring a beautiful copper alloy folded roof. The contrast of this roof against the backdrop of the Georgian town houses works so well because of its subtle reflective qualities against the matte finish of the brick and paint work. The tessellation of the geometric patterned roof tiles adds interest and breaks up the block colour of the material without being overbearing. Presenting a traditional material in a modern style using modern techniques has created a fluid transition from an old construction to a new one.

Emrys-Architects-GMS-Estates-Bloomsbury-London-yatzer_web

Metallic finishes will always make a big impression on a space, and with the progress of technology the possibilities for integrating this material in to your home are endless. Copper wall coverings, furniture, fixtures and even objects are becoming increasingly available at reasonable prices for the everyday consumer. Objects are by far one of the easiest and most convenient ways to integrate copper in to a design. Too much can overpower a space, so complementing a scheme with items like lamps or a nest of tables are a subtle way to introduce a new texture. Metallic finishes will always look high end, but do not always have to come with a high end price tag.

     copper06

However you feel about copper, its tenacity is clear. With its flexibility of use and unique properties, the design possibilities are endless and it brings a timeless grandeur to any room scheme it forms a part of. 

References:

Images:

Image A:
UNKNOWN [Unknown] Heals Blu Dot Real Good Chair Copper [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.heals.co.uk/chairs+stools/blu-dot-real-good-chair/invt/realchair [06/02/14].

Image B:
UKNOWN [Unknown] Heals Blu Dot Real Good Chair Cooper [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.bludot.com/copper-real-good-chair.html [06/02/14]

Image C:
ALAN WILLIAMS [21/02/14] GMS Estates Great James Street Office [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.yatzer.com/great-james-street-emrys-architects [06/02/14]

Image D:
ALAN WILLIAMS [21/02/14] GMS Estates Great James Street Office [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.yatzer.com/great-james-street-emrys-architects [06/02/14]

Image E:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Beauty Increasing Over Time: Copper [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.kaikado.jp/english/feature/index.html [06/02/14]

Image F:
ROSE ETHERINGTON [2010] Micro Rocks sculpture in copper [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2010/06/16/rock-series-by-arik-levy-at-design-miamibasel/ [06/02/14]

Image G:
ROSE ETHERINGTON [2010] Void V01 copper watch [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2011/05/05/void-v01-copper-at-dezeen-watch-store/ [06/02/14]

Image H:
ROSE ETHERINGTON [2010] Laputa by Outofstock [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2012/03/20/laputa-by-outofstock/ [06/02/14]

Image I:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Sentoku [Online Image]. Available from: http://www.kaikado.jp/english/goods/copper.html [06/02/14]

Image J:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Copper Wall Panels [Online Image]. Available from:
http://marcbdesign.wordpress.com/fast-materials-web-design-and-interior-projects/copper-grass/ [06/02/14]

Image K:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Copper Wall [Online Image]. Available from: http://homemix.tumblr.com/post/28418117684/great-copper-wall [06/02/14]

Image L:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Freja Copper Table Lamp [Online Image]. Available from:
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/bodieandfou/product/freja-copper-table-lamp [06/02/14]

Image M:
UKNOWN [Unknown] Copper Lantern [Online Image]. Available from:
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/idyllhome/product/copper-lantern [06/02/14]

Image N:
UKNOWN [Uknown] Distressed Copper Metal Nest of Side Tables [Online Image]. Available from:
http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/iloveretro/product/distressed-copper-look-nest-of-three-tables

Articles:

MARCIA ARGYRIADES [2014] When a Copper Roof Steals The Show In A Working Environment. [Online Article] Yatzer, 21st January. Available from: http://www.yatzer.com/great-james-street-emrys-architects.

ROSE ETHERINGTON [2012] Rock Series by Arik Levy at Design Miami/ Basel. [Online Article]. Dezeen, 16 June. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2010/06/16/rock-series-by-arik-levy-at-design-miamibasel/.

ROSE ETHERINGTON [2012] Laputa by Outofstock. [Online Article]. Dezeen, 20 March. Available from: http://www.dezeen.com/2012/03/20/laputa-by-outofstock/.

Websites:

UNKNOWN [Unknown] Sculpture Techniques: Bronze Casting [Online] Victoria and Albert Museum. Available from: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/sculpture-techniques/ [06/02/14].

UKNOWN [Uknown] Copper Real Good Chair [Online] Blu Dot. Available from: http://www.bludot.com/copper-real-good-chair.html [06/02/14].

UKNOWN [Uknown] Copper Wall Panels [Online] Marc B Design. Available from: http://marcbdesign.wordpress.com/fast-materials-web-design-and-interior-projects/copper-grass/ [06/02/14].

UKNOWN [Uknown] Beauty increasing over time [Online] Kaikado. Available from: http://www.kaikado.jp/english/feature/index.html [06/02/14].

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