Saturday, March 17, 2012

How to use ancient trick.

 An ornate, antique mirror in a contemporary bedroom. Jamie Drake design.

The use of mirrors to enlarge a space, to reflect objects and even to reflect upon ourselves…. is an ancient trick that never fails.
The mirrors used in ancient Greece or during the Roman Empire were slightly convex disks of polished metal,  reflecting light. More modern version were mirrors, either made of glass or cristallo di rocca (quartz), that were produced in the 13th-century but only during Renaissance they became more common. Famous became the mirrors produced  in Venice during the 16th-century, and after that the ones made in France and other European countries.

Leonardo da vinci
Camera degli specchi” at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum, in Florence, is part of Leonardo’s study of optic science: in this small space enclosed by 8 mirrored walls he discovered that you could see every side of an object put in the center without moving.

Royal palace in Genoa, the Sala degli specchi built around 1650.

Royal Palace in Versailles is famous for the magnificent  Hall of Mirrors (La Galerie des Glaces), 73 meters long…  built around 1650.

So we talked about ancient Rome, Renaissance, Leonardo,Venice, France in the 17th-century, but now fast forward to how to use mirrors in our houses.

Here are some splendid examples of contemporary use of reflecting surfaces:

House B. Josephine Sacabo 

From House Beautiful: "I collect beautiful time-ravaged mirrors, and when I saw this one in an antiques store in New Orleans, I fell in love. When I went in, it was sold. I pined for it. I left my number and went in every week for six weeks. Finally, the shop owner said whoever bought it probably wasn't going to pick it up, and I could have it for $600. It's a four-panel screen and very heavy. The glass is fogged and splotchy, the way glass gets, and there's a border around each panel with painted birds and flowers, all worn away. Everything that's reflected in the mirror looks unbelievable, like a poeticized version of itself. It gives every view a history." 
Josephine Sacabo, photographer.

house beautiful a.branca
From House Beautiful:  "Powder rooms are such an opportunity to wrap yourself in whatever indulgent feeling you want. The mirror that wound up in my Chicago powder room is 18th-century Venetian — sober, clean, not goopy, and it's from a neoclassical tradition that's so familiar to me. I love the dark wood frame and those beautiful etchings. I bought it 20 years ago in Rome on the Via Margutta, a street of antiques dealers, and it has followed me from house to house — living proof that if you buy something you love, you'll find a place for it."
 Alessandra Branca, Interior Designer

V Wolf House Beau.
From House Beautiful: "I've leaned a massive, over-scale mirror against the wall of my bedroom, as I do in so many houses. It's taking an architectural approach to a decorative object — like cutting open a wall onto a space beyond. It's also more casual and interesting to lean something than to hang it. Once a mirror is hung, it's isolated on the wall. But when it leans, the floor runs right into the glass." 
Vicente Wolf, Interior Designer.

From Elle Decor: “Everyone knows that a mirror will make a room look bigger, but mirrored walls are considered passé. A nice alternative is the customizable Anichini mirror, designed by Vicente Wolf to lean up against a wall”.

Elle decor
From Elle Decor: “Mirror doesn’t have to be limited to walls; it looks great on furniture, too, giving the impression that the piece is not really there at all, as in this Chicago dining room by Douglas Levine, where a custom buffet stands in front of a wall where paned mirror on the wall reflects French doors”.

Some more examples of illusion that mirrors can give: in this flat of only about 500 square feet, in London, the use of reflecting surfaces can give you the impression of a much larger space, almost as doubling it.

gioco al raddoppio
Mirrors here hide cabinets, closets, kitchen gadgets so even if the space is limited everything is orderly.

Notice also there are no handles on cabinets, another trick for the eyes.

In the bathroom even the door is mirrored and the walls reflect light and enlarge the beautiful floral Bisazza mosaic wall.  (Mackay and Partners project).

I can go on forever and I am sure you have many more ideas on mirrors but I will end with a cautionary note about mirrors above fireplaces, not my favorite place, in many cases mirrors there or above a bed as in the image below, reflect only a plain ceiling so I suggest you hang them not flush to the wall, to create a more interesting reflection of the room.

This is perfection…

3-17-2012 6-50-10 PM
Alex Papachristidis Interiors

So, no matter if you live in a castle or in a small studio the use of mirrors can be magical, can sometimes make you dream and at times can even help you to… reflect !

©2012 Brillante Interiors writes about new trends, timeless decor, iconic pieces, design ideas, or at times just musing about "a certain Italian way of doing things".
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Theresa Cheek said...

Wonderful examples of the magic of a mirror! I get suspicious of a room without one.

John Lyle said...

I made the andirons and fire tools.
LOVE Jamie Drake

Christine said...

I find these images very inspirational, so is your blog.

MJH Design Arts said...

I love all of the images and references, but the last one has my heart--pure elegance referencing 18th c. and mid-century in one quick swoop. Thanks for another super post. Mary

peggy braswell said...

Mirrors...ahh one of my favorite things to use. Everyone loves to look at themselves.

Barbara Matson said...

I love using mirrors in a space, they had such depth and sparkle. When I visited Versailles - I was floored when I walked through the hall of mirrors. It was void of any furniture and just the mirrors and chandeliers created such sparkle and opulence!

Unknown said...

Loved this post especially! I am fascinated by all sorts of mirrors, specifically the ancient ones that tell a story. They reflect pure magic!

Louise - Omelo Mirrors said...

I've always loved the association of trickery and mirrors - such funt to be had! It's one of the reasons I got into mirror design.

I thoroughly enjoyed your post - thank you for sharing.

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

The last bedroom is beyond gorgeous.

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