Many of the finest designs start with the principle that everyday objects play a significant role in people’s lives, personally, emotionally, culturally, even historically and traditionally. Interactions with such objects are often automatic and unconscious; we use them without thinking about the significant role they have in our daily being. When contemplating the use of glass in interior design, its decorative qualities are integral to many areas of the home. Simple or complex, affordable or expensive, utilitarian or elegant, glass adds meaning and value to a space, having a role to play in numerous everyday moments.
Whether ornamental or functional, glass should be enjoyed for its aesthetic value as well as its practicality. The main use of glass in any home is typically for windowpanes. Windows are central to a home’s vitality, its light, warmth and connection to the world outside. Their transparent quality is made possible by glass – it is glass that affords a room with light, a sense of perspective, comfort, reflection, illumination and vitality. The important decorative properties of glass in this respect cannot be stressed highly enough.
Glass is one of those familiar materials, often overlooked and taken for granted. In many ways its ubiquity does mean that, time and again, its significance, potential and value is disregarded. Yet our relationship with glass is one to be cherished and enjoyed, savoured and invested in. Glass is an efficacious material for creating a certain ambience and appeal: used as tableware it is tactile and expressive; when storing small items and trinkets it is practical and honest. The decorative benefits of glass are manifold and timeless and as such glass pieces are used across all areas of the home: in flower arrangements, objet d’art and vessels for holding and displaying foods.
Tactility – the sense of touch – is often undervalued. Glass is a material whose tactile qualities are aesthetically pleasing. Too much glass though might have the tendency to jar and glass is often best used in harmony with other materials. In an excerpt from the book “Imperfect Home”, authors Mark & Sally Bailey contemplate the idea of contrast, suggesting that we: “[place] reflective materials, such as glass… next to matt ones, like tarnished metal or unpolished wood… [aiming] for a balanced rhythm, not just a noise.” They add further: “Using a limited palette of materials is one way to achieve harmony when gathering lots of objects together. Ceramics, glass and wood come together to create a rustic-looking combination”.
Think of glass as one way in which a sense of authenticity can permeate the home. Glass items that are handmade and well crafted facilitate greater emotional connection and less ambiguity. Their worth and value will mean much more and such objects will augment those parts of the home that perhaps have a harder edge. In many ways glass is an enabler, setting a romantic scene with decorative candleholders, helping a celebration with stemmed champagne flutes and transforming one’s appearance by way of a mirror.
When paired with pewter, glass evolves into a more heightened state of being. The ornamental properties of both materials are perfectly complemented, resulting in objects that are versatile, practical and decorative. Glass and pewter offer a unity and utility that assume a luxurious bent.
Bailey, M & S. (2014) Imperfect Home. London: Ryland, Peters & Small.