Mirrors so often inhabit private spaces to enable quiet reflection. Image of the Arte Mirror in situ via @atelier_lab_
Arguably, our interiors reflect who we are: an inner world articulated externally - an intimate portrayal of time, experience and story expressed through art, environment and object. We may deduce personality from the way we engage with colour or arrange furniture: how we announce value through aesthetic - the modernist distinguished from the classicist, the minimalist set apart from the decorative, bold or ornate. Despite stylistic preferences, however, the mirror remains a valuable device of design. Creating charm, curiosity and romance within the narrative born of physical and philosophical reflection, mirrors are as much an object of art as a tool of refraction, bending light and directing the eye to depths outside our ordinary line of vision.
Creating charm, curiosity and romance within the narrative born of physical and philosophical reflection. Image of Villa Dei Vescovi, Luvigliano, Italy via @sashabab
An instrument of self examination, the glass mirrors of today are a fairly modern invention. Functionally, they reflect an exact but opposite likeness of what’s in front of them, making the subject the viewer, giving them insight into how they might be perceived by others. It’s a borrowed vision, real but unnatural, as we surrender a perspective that is inwards gazing out to gain access to an external version of self. In doing this, we engage in an intimate exchange through an inanimate object which is why we so often place mirrors in private settings: to change, to groom, to bathe, to dress…the relationship is deeply personal and introspective: a way to analyse, cultivate and critique our unguarded resemblance.
A portal into other perspectives, mirrors create a moment of surprise and curiosity as they merge the seen and out of sight into a singular frame. Image: The Hail Mirror via Keeley Baird, captured by Dave Wheeler.
Directed by purpose, there is a difference in how we relate to mirrors in private and public settings. Beyond self perception, mirrors may be put to more creative use, expanding space and drawing in light to brighten and enliven thoroughfares and infuse mood into the shared rooms of home interiors. As if portals into other perspectives, their scale and placement become important as our attention is drawn to a centrepoint and we are invited to pause and participate in the magic of the moment - a moment of surprise and curiosity as the seen and out-of-sight merge into a singular frame.
Mirrors expand and enliven space, adding depth, curiosity and new dimension. An antique mirror , source unknown.
Of course, we may curate the subject. A carefully placed painting that holds certain personal appeal becomes the object of focus in its mirrored reflection. So too, can certain flourishes: the deliberate details of design that might otherwise go unnoticed become participants in the bigger conversation of style and design narrative. From lighting and palette to sculptural furniture and antique fixtures, mirrors interact with person and environment to create experience and exhume story - an idea of who we are on display in the outward expression and reflection of our décor.
An Antique French gilded mirror from Rachel Donath, detail on display in Home Beautiful's style forecast.
Through time, mirrors have also become as much decorative feature as an object of functional purpose. From the large gilded grandeur of those destined for the mantel, to the fluid form or tiny size of more intriguing, ornate pieces, the way we present and frame mirrors explores ideology and technique through the lens of era. The sinuous and organic character of the Art Nouveau period in contrast to the Repousse brass detail of 19th Century Napoleon III Era France, for example, sees very different artistic vision executed through material detail. How we respond to each is like any other piece of art: as objects steeped in curiosity, beauty and ideation, we either love or reject, align or rebel against that which we identify as being true or apart from the desired values we hold ourselves up to.
Chic, romantic, dramatic? Let the mirror decide.
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