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Brief Published: 28 May 2019

Material Alchemy: Designers Craft Expressive Metal Surfaces

Charlotte Kingsnorth

Experimental treatments and crafted finishes are transforming humble metals into precious surfaces. We highlight two pioneering collections from designers pushing the material’s boundaries to achieve unexpected results.

Charlotte Kingsnorth presented her new bronze furniture collection at London Craft Week (May 8-12). The British designer uses a pioneering technique for her tables, mirrors and light pendants that’s inspired by the natural formation of lichen. 

Layers of corrosive chemicals and coloured pigments are applied to heated bronze to form organic bursts of patina. The decorative patterns are built up layer by layer to form rich and expressive surfaces. For more creative patinated effects, see Metal in Milan 2018: Materials.

Italian brand De Castelli explores tonality and texture in its latest metal furniture collections. The new pieces, presented at Milan Design Week 2019, feature captivating combinations of different finishes. Brass, copper and iron are scratched, etched, brushed and polished to create rich and expressive surfaces. 

Alchemy, a series of modular side tables, is created using the brand’s DeLabré finish – a process where sheets of metal are manually oxidised to achieve a chromatic, clouded effect. The square, rectangular and circular tabletops are contrasted with highly polished stainless steel bases for a striking effect. 

Meanwhile, DeErosion – another of the brand’s finishes – produces a subtle etched pattern on the drawer fronts of the Tako console. The precise technique involves the monitored erosion of metal and can be used to create various textures and patterns.

We recently covered another experimental approach to metal finishes – London-based designer Marcin Rusak creates sophisticated deep metallic shades and rich textures using a metal spraying technique. Read more on The Brief.

See Metal in our Materials Evolution: S/S 21 for further coverage of the latest trends.

De Castelli, Alchemy
De Castelli, Tako