Product Design

5 Reasons Brass is Here to Stay—in Our Homes *and* Hearts

August 24, 2016

Our Shop is bursting at the seams with brass—and why? We love its cozy warm glow, its easygoing elegance, and its old-school style. Allow us to further explain our obsession with the metal that's always on our minds (and convince you to join us in the Brass Fan Club along the way!).

Our brass hanger, turning heads. Photo by Linda Xiao

1. It’s the best kind of throwback.

A mailbox hanging on the facade of a red brick townhouse. Textured, burnished knobs on closet doors in old school hotels. A telescope in an attic room from a fantastical fiction story. Candlesticks lined along the mantel of a columned fireplace. Creaky handles on an imposing oak dresser.

Out of thin air, brass conjures up these images, wrapped in a nostalgic haze. Its muted flashes are often in the most utilitarian of positions—as a screw or a stud on a well-worn heirloom piece. Brass’ elegance is found in the everyday, and in the forever.

2. It’s got beauty and brains.

Brass is timeless in a different way than, say, gold or marble, because it wasn’t widely used until the Industrial Revolution. Rather than being linked to an almost unfathomable past (think gold in the Egyptian tombs or marble in Ancient Greece), brass is more closely connected and associated with early modern life. (Brass, an alloy of zinc and copper, has been used since the Roman Empire, but because the manufacturing of zinc was long considered a difficult process and not well-mastered, it was hard to come by.)

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Top Comment:
“I like brass well enough, but they tend to charge for it as if it were gold. I see no logical reason why, for example, small brass hinges should cost three times as much as steel- the material isn't anything like that expensive, and it's easier to work. Note that most brass work comes lacquered- if you want patina, you should remove the lacquer. It will eventually wear off on objects that see a lot of handling, but not evenly, and you can end up with a blotchy finish.”
— Smaug
Comment

Hundreds of years later, cue the Industrial Revolution, when important advances were made in the manufacturing of zinc and the production of brass. In short, brass could be made more easily and cheaply, and became readily available. Brass was quickly recognized as a superior metal (take that, gold!) because of its malleability and its resistance to corrosion. It found wide usage in precision machinery, like watches and navigational tools, and plumbing. It would go on to be used to sheath wooden ships, to be made into pins for the textile industry, and to serve as early ammunition cartridges.

We love that underneath its warm and glinting beauty, brass is a serious workhorse with a serious history. Sure, it looks pretty, but brass has lived many lives, and its industrious past is a part of its charm.

3. It’s there for you if the word metallic makes you shudder.

Many of us are still experiencing post-metallic stress disorder from fashion and interior design faux pas through the ages: gold lame of the 70s, the garishly glittering sequins of the 80s, and silver-foil one shoulder tops from the early 2000s. Brass has got the shine, but it’s muted for a classed-up finish. We’re using it as an accent (everything in moderation, right?) and mixed with neutrals. A little goes a long way.

4. It’s so hot warm right now.

You know Heidi Klum's catchphrase: “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out.” Interior design trends come and go, and according to our Buyer Kristina Wasserman, the design world is seeing a lot of warm, vintage-inspired interiors right now. “60s and 70s fashion has really influenced design over the last couple of years,” she says. “Warm palettes are in.” (Take a look at the beauties in our Shop and you can trust she knows what she is talking about.)

Brass often beats out gold because it wears and patinas, for that coveted vintage look. Speaking of which...

5. It grows up in a downright handsome way.

Brass, like a favorite pair of blue jeans, is a material at its best when worn in. The stunning patina that develops over time is like a visual history of the object—where its been, who has held it, how long its been around—turning the pure, bright brass into something complex, distinguished, and multi-dimensional. Brass has seen things. And the more it's seen, the more we love it.

Brass, won't you be mine? Tell us why you love it, in the comments.

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4 Comments

Smaug August 24, 2016
I like brass well enough, but they tend to charge for it as if it were gold. I see no logical reason why, for example, small brass hinges should cost three times as much as steel- the material isn't anything like that expensive, and it's easier to work. Note that most brass work comes lacquered- if you want patina, you should remove the lacquer. It will eventually wear off on objects that see a lot of handling, but not evenly, and you can end up with a blotchy finish.
 
PHIL August 24, 2016
I know am am getting old when brass starts to make a comeback. I have lived through brass, chrome, bronze and brushed nickel eras. Can brass beds be coming back next?
 
BrooklynBridget August 26, 2016
Hahaha Phil I felt the same way. The youngins are bringing me along though.
 
PHIL August 30, 2016
I'm hoping pickled oak comes back soon so I don't have to buy a new coffee table. My wife is bugging me about replacing it., technically it is an antique now..