After seeing all the copper furniture makers cooked up at the New York and Milan furniture design shows, it became apparent that a new copper age is beginning in contemporary design objects. Why now?
Copper is one of the oldest metals to be used by man, first put into forms 10,000 years ago. But for the better part of the 2000s, minimalism and mid-century modern have been the go-to inspiration for designers everywhere. Teak, walnut, aluminium and stainless steel were the favourite materials of furniture makers, graphic artists, and industrial designers. Then, more recently, a grittier, darker, Americana-inspired industrial look caught on. Raw steel, unrefined stone, and unfinished wood started to overtake the clean lines and bright colours revered for so long. Thats's where copper steps in. It fits a sleek, sophisticated modern home, or a rough and rugged factory loft. It's equally at home next to a walnut desk or a cast aluminium chair.
The material is popping up in everywhere in furniture design. There are chairs, lamps, watches, tables, even sage burners equipped with the 29th element on the periodic table. Once relegated to piping hot water, delivering power and distributing heat in electronics, it's nice to see copper get a moment in the spotlight.
The Blu Dot Real Good Chair has been a popular object for a few years, and now the company has made available an all copper version of the chair that is designed to exhibit wear marks unique to its owner. Image: Bludot
Silvered mirrors may reflect and reproduce your likeness more accurately, but nothing will grab someone's eye quite like this giant mirror made of polished copper. Image: Michael Anastassiades
The best part about the Copper Lamp 10kg is not the weathered exterior or polished interior of the shade, but rather the fact that the base is cast from 10kg of solid copper that is meant to increase (or maybe decrease) in value over time with the copper market. Image: Tobias Sieber
The simple form of Tom Dixon's block dining table combined with material like granite shows the versatile way copper can be implemented in industrial design. Image: Tom Dixon
Gold? Platinum? Steel? Blah. Copper combines with the rectangular form of the Void V01 watch adds up to a timepiece that stands out from the rest. Image: Dezeen Watch Store
Even little pieces, like a vase, can incorporate something new to homes or workspaces without completely overwhelming the room and screaming "HEY, I'M A TREND JUNKIE." Image: Minimalux
Though maybe not thought of as a minimalist material, copper can be implemented into minimal forms with great effect. Take, for example, this wireframe pyramid from Lacoli and McCallister, which functions as a sage burner. Image: Creatures of Comfort
Further evidence of the chameleon-like qualities of copper's ability to jibe with multiple aesthetics, these Conica tables from La Veneta have an unmistakable modern flair. Image: Flodeau
Does anyone still use tape? Doesn't matter. With a copper wheel serving as its focal point, just consider Tatsuya Akita's tape dispenser to be the most stylish and functional paper weight ever created. Image: AT Studio
Top photo: Franklin Jr/Stockfresh