Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mid-Century Modern Brass - Lighting, Candlesticks and Objects

For some reason, brass has always had a pretty negative connotation for me in terms of decorating.  I’m not sure why this is, because it has a rich history--lovely brass pulls on 18th-century furniture, ornate hardware from the Aesthetic Movement and even brass beds all come to mind.  The swanky ‘70s designs of Gabriella Crespi and Paul Evans?  All good. 

These days, however, I am cursed with some ghastly brass lighting fixtures that came with my house when I bought it--you know, the ones from the 1980s that are sort of formal, pseudo-Georgian, living-in-Colonial-Williamsburg, brass-and-glass affairs that are just not to my taste.  And I’m not against brass, in fact, I am looking for some cool mid-century brass fixtures to replace them.
I need ceiling fixtures, so naturally all I have found is table lamps that are to my liking. 

An aside:  Mid-century lighting seems to suffer from a serious dearth of solid attributions.  In my search for more information on these pierced brass lamps, I generally come across three names:

I sometimes see any brass lighting pierced with tiny holes very optimistically attributed to Paavo Tynell, the Finnish designer of some rather splendid chandeliers and other fixtures.  I’d love to think that was true, but I do not think this is right.

The other name often bandied about is that of Gerald Thurston, a designer who worked for Lightolier.  Some of his designs are certainly well-documented through Lightolier advertisements and catalogues, but again, if it is pierced brass, his name gets thrown out there. 

Gaetano Sciolari? If it is chrome or brass and has a swank vibe to it, it must be Sciolari, right?  As with Tynell and Thurston, the designer’s name becomes an adjective more than an actual attribution and simply helps to quickly identify the overall style and look of a piece. 

I like mid-century brass items of all sorts, such as these Swedish brass candlesticks by Ystad Metall.

And some designed by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk:
And how about some brutal brass?  Curtis Jere (not an actual person, but a composite name of the two designers) created many brass wall sculptures and others emulated their style.  The piece below is not by Jere, but signed and dated 1972.
Even cheeseball brass from Home Interiors can look pretty good in (very!) small doses.

Just as I was getting ready to post this, Apartment Therapy posted about brass lighting--read about it here

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

1 comment:

  1. That non-Jere seaweed-ish piece is incredible!