The conception of “decorative” will flex and fluctuate across individuals, just as viewpoints on interior design will be open-ended. Both are dependent upon context, habitat, taste, personal preferences, budget and a myriad of other factors.
Interior design will impact upon emotional state and the perception of well-being. Feeling at ease is very much dependent upon our surroundings, where comfort and security are intrinsically linked with environment. Design is a core component of a warm welcome. When thinking of a country cottage for example, notions of rusticity and cosiness, an open fire or wood burning stove, thatched roof and wooden beams might come to mind. An old cottage will have endured throughout the years, creaking and groaning in parts, yet imbued with a great deal of character. Much of its value can be found in its homelike quality and the use of natural materials such as stone, wood and metal. It is these real materials that age beautifully and last for generations; they are materials that speak to the person and often carry hidden and meaningful messages.
Metals have an unfettered decorative quality that can bring a sense of grounding and solidity to a space. Their utility is generally unhindered and metal objects come in all shapes and sizes. Metal is used to make solid pieces or for trimming and adding finishing touches, finding application in glassware, tableware, jugs, vases, candleholders, stationery, lighting – the list is extensive. Moreover, the decorative qualities of metal abound and it is found in interiors across the spectrum, from traditional to modern, maximal to minimal, luxury to simple.
Within the historic context of country cottage living, smiths have always had a central role. In an excerpt from the book “Modern Country”, author Caroline Clifton-Mogg notes that: “Architecturally… metal has long been an intrinsic part of country architecture. The metal smith is still an important person in rural life – traditionally, he beats the iron into sympathetic shapes for airy, light balconies, grilles and stair rails, and, of course, originally, he made window frames, as well as making the weatherproof, indestructible doors and windows for agricultural buildings. These days the smith might be involved in making the whole staircase and possibly some of the furniture – beds, chairs, tables.”
If we consider pewter, a metal with silver grey colouring and a somewhat mottled aesthetic, it is an attractive ‘highlight’ whose ornamental properties will embellish virtually any interior. Pewter complements darker furnishings and surfaces, mirroring shapes, colours and light. Its decorative prowess adds to and celebrates various spaces within the home. Taking the rural cottage setting, pewter augments the layers of tactility that already abound, its smooth and polished surface working in tandem with those numerous rustic interior elements.
Indeed until the 18th century, pewter was commonplace in cottages and therefore incorporating pewter within the home provides a tangible link with the past. What’s more, the versatility of pewter means that it works as a focal centrepiece – on a table, mantel or window sill – and as a practical companion – perhaps a clock on a desk or a tissue box cover on a bedside table. Pewter’s decorative use ensures that interiors have pockets of intimacy that will help make a person feel special in certain moments and contexts.
The images shown depict the beauty and functionality of pewter as part of a countryside cottage dwelling. Its surface is adept at capturing and reflecting light in hidden recesses and on deep sills. Its aesthetic is at once elegant and contemporary, vintage and new. With flowers or fruit, candles or cakes, pewter is decoratively well-appointed, honest and unique.
Clifton-Mogg, C. (2014) Modern Country: Inspiring Interiors for Contemporary Country Living. London: Jacqui Small LLP.