While bronze may mean third position in the Olympics, it’s increasingly the first choice for architects and designers in a variety of external uses and interior details.
Written by Helen Parton
Bronze has had a lot of different uses over the centuries. During the Bronze Age itself, from 3300 BC to 1200 BC and sandwiched in between the Stone and Iron Ages, it enabled civilisations to make metal objects such as tools, weapons as well as building materials such as decorative tiles. A harder and more durable choice than stone and copper, it went on to be a popular choice for a variety of objects from coins to ship fittings. Today it can be found in everything from parts of musical instruments to statues to bearings, electrical connectors and springs.
The interior of 7 Clarges Street features a reception desk created as a fragmented mass of bronze. © Gareth Gardner
Its durability and patina are some of the qualities that have made this material appealing to contemporary architects and designers too. A development at 7 Clarges Street completed by architects Squire + Partners in 2016 comprises a bespoke office development as part of a family of buildings in London’s Mayfair and features bronze in a number of guises. The material is used on the exterior of the building on the window frames and balconies which complement the Portland stone facade featuring hand carved fluted stone columns, inspired by the local streetscape. Bronze also features on the building’s interior too with bronze mesh details in the reception. The bespoke reception desk is also created as a fragmented mass of bronze to dramatic effect. Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London’s Square Mile by architects Foster + Partners features a series of large scale bronze fins. These shade the floor to ceiling glazing of this RIBA Stirling Prize winning building, giving it a visual hierarchy.
The Celebrity Edge cruise ship includes Anodic Bronze from coating systems specialist Axalta as referenced by the company’s colour expert Sally Put. © Axalta
As well as physical objects made of bronze, the metallic brown shade is also making its mark elsewhere says colour expert Sally Put, who recently authored a trend report on what the industry can expect in the coming year. She predicts that 2022’s preferred colour palette will focus on ‘neo neutrals’. Put says “Our continued working from home will mean an increasing need for silence – surfaces that promote stillness – as well as interior design that creates calming, enclosed spaces. The emphasis will be on a neutral palette: quiet colours, subtle textures, minimalistic lines and surfaces with a theme of tranquillity.”
The Classico Collection outside furniture designed by CLM Be Outside, featuring Solid Metallic effects. © Axalta
Bronze hues, the thinking goes, can be paired with natural materials such as wood, stone or woven textiles to give a feeling of serenity to an interior. Put adds “We’ve see that, whilst black, grey and white remain the timeless bestsellers, there is a new fashion for an anodised look - a smooth, matt, subtle metallic effect – which looks set to become the number one choice for specifiers of architecture, lighting, furniture and beyond.”
An interior featuring a range of bronze and other metallic hues by Jenny Allan Design. © Jenny Allan Design
Jenny Allan, founder of Jenny Allan Design, based in London and Hampshire and who has worked on a range of luxurious properties in the UK and overseas agrees. Summarising bronze’s popularity she says, “Dark antique brass and bronzes are really on trend and will continue to boom into 2022. Any metallic surface such as lamps or handles will benefit from this subtle and beautiful texture. Hammered metal finishes are also becoming very popular with suppliers, many bringing out tables and other furniture pieces with the effect!”