- Used Books
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
- Let's Talk Books
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
Ships in 1 to 3 days
More copies of this ISBN
Decorative Hardware: Interior Designing with Knobs, Handles, Latches, Locks, Hinges, and Other Hardwareby Liz Gordon
Synopses & Reviews
At the beginning of the twentieth century the centerpiece of a well-to-do American parlor was the Tiffany lamp. The crowning achievement of the decorative arts, this beautiful object reigned as the focal point amid the potted palms, overstuffed chairs, and assorted bric-a-brac. And befitting its exalted status, it came with its own unspoken admonishment: Do not touch. My beauty is fragile. Turn me on if you must'but gently. And if you need more light, sit closer to the fire.
In that same room were decorative objects that embodied the identical forces of current style, used the same quality of materials, and aspired to the same level of design excellence as the Tiffany lamp. But despite their inherent beauty, they went almost unnoticed. But certainly not untouched. For these were knobs, handles, latches, locks, and hinges. They were the workhorses of the decorative arts. Designed to be used repeatedly through generations, decorative hardware was unsung, unappreciated, and absolutely indispensable.
In a hundred years very little has changed. Open. Close. Latch. Lock. These actions in many ways define the functional aspects of decorative hardware. This is what decorative hardware does. Without it much of our world would simply cease to function. Drawers wouldn't open, windows wouldn't close, and doors wouldn't lock. Decorative hardware gives motion to our world. It is the interface between us and much of the physical world we live in.
But function is only part of what makes decorative hardware such an invaluable part of our lives. Because these most humble of functional objects are so integral to our lives, they act as key building blocks of decorative style. Whetherused to stylistically accent a piece or to stylistically join together many different facets, decorative hardware, by its very ubiquitous nature (always there, always close at hand, always right in front of our eyes), is always going to make a statement of style.
The irony of course is that because we are surrounded by decorative hardware we take it for granted, and it becomes invisible to us. But the reality is that not only does the proper knob make a door function, it helps create a unified stylistic statement. With the wrong type of knob, the door may not open. With the wrong style of knob, the door may open, but it will not work decoratively. The right hardware creates harmony between function and style.
Because it sits right at the intersection between design and function, decorative hardware is a wonderful window into the history of both architecture and the decorative arts in America. Each piece of hardware gives us an insight into all the forces at work when it was designed and manufactured. Therefore hardware becomes the perfect way to examine the various decorative styles that have evolved through the history of American design.
You'll notice that we make a distinction between styles and periods. Periods refer to blocks of time. Within each period, many different decorative styles may coexist. Having said that, we have to point out the exception that proves the rule: the adjective Victorian can be used to describe both a period and a style.
In Part I we look at the history of decorative hardware in America, examining its two main components: building hardware, used on doors and windows, and furniture hardware, used on freestanding pieces of furniture andon built-in cabinets.
The story of American decorative hardware is filled with struggles between divergent forces'between function and style, domestic pride and foreign influence, the elite and the masses, rural life and urban life, and the comforts of the past and the promise of the future.
It is a story that begins simply enough at the anvil and forge of the village blacksmith. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, American decorative hardware was made primarily from iron. It was heavy in form and function and light on style.
What style it did have came from England. This importation of English style would become a key element of American decorative hardware and would continue for the next one hundred and fifty years. It would also lead to a great irony.
The first mass-produced style of hardware in America would be named after an Englishman'and, in fact, one who detested the very thought of mass production. Charles Eastlake, much to his chagrin, gave his name to a type of American hardware that became popular here in the late 1860s and was known for its elaborate, stylized geometric forms. Eastlake style hardware was a three-dimensional representation of the nation's relief at the conclusion of the Civil War and its exuberance with its new industrial muscle.
The next significant style of American design, Victorian, was rampant in its excess. Here in the United States, Victorian style hardware was available in a profusion of choices. Although these choices were made possible by the Industrial Revolution, they were styled to provide comfort in a troubling time, using design elements that harkened backward and employing themes from the past.
Consumers began to look to thedecorative arts as a source of solace in a world turned upside down in just a few short years. In the face of the unrelenting pressures of a newly industrialized world, designers would repeatedly return to the past for themes'just as America would return to England for design inspiration.
The next significant decorative style to sweep America was born in just such a manner. From the late 1800s to the early 1920s, American designers used the hand-crafted philosophical ideals of the British Arts and Crafts movement to create a style of decorative arts. Ultimately, however, the style was handmade in appearance only. The Arts and Crafts style hardware decorating new suburban bungalows across the nation was mass-produced, and special metal finishes were used to make the hardware appear handwrought.
While the Arts and Crafts style was based on a philosophical model, the Revival styles in America, prevalent from the turn of the century until the Second World War, were based on romantic historical references. Somewhat incongruously, Tudor Revival homes and Spanish Colonial Revival homes proudly stood side by side as Americans created safe worlds in burgeoning suburbs across the land. Decorative hardware was doing its part to make every home a castle.
While the majority of Americans were snug in their Revival homes, a new movement was brewing in Europe. As it spread to America, this movement would change two ingrained patterns of American design. Art Deco was the first American decorative style that had its genesis in France, not in England, and it was also the first American decorative style that looked to the future instead of the past. Never a style of the masses, from themid-1920s through the mid-1940s Art Deco and its later incarnation, Streamline Moderne, brought an elegant, curvaceous, and sensuous feeling to American decorative design...
From Liz's Antique Hardware, one of today's top antiques dealers, comes a lavishly photographed look at the creative possibilities of decorating with antique and reproduction hardware. Photos.
A beautifully photographed look at the creative possibilities of decorating with antique and contemporary American hardware: doorknobs, drawer pulls, locks, hinges, and more.
Suddenly, hardware seems to be featured everywhere: glossy magazines showcase glimmering arrays of cabinet handles and famous designers are creating door pulls. With the current focus on building and renovating houses, there's a great demand for hardware that is both beautiful and functional and that matches the particular design of the house, whether it is Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, Contemporary, or another style. Hardware can change the entire look of a room; the fine details on doorknobs and cabinet handles can become the decorative springboard for every room in the home. Compared with the expense of demolition and reconstruction, changing the surface details--replacing the hardware--is a small investment. And if the original hardware is intact, it can serve as a guide to the age and history of a house. It's a part of our heritage.In the first-ever comprehensive book written about decorative hardware, Liz Gordon and Terri Hartman, the owner and the manager of Liz's Antique Hardware, the nation'sforemost antique hardware store, delve into this rarely considered aspect of interior design. They reveal the history behind the most loved styles of hardware during the last few hundred years and show you how to fit these decorative, historical pieces of art into your own home. You'll see exquisite homes that incorporate antique and contemporary hinges, handles, knobs, and locks--and find an incredible variety of ways to express your personal style through American decorative hardware.
About the Author
Liz Gordon has been an antiques dealer specializing in hardware for twenty years. Her store, Liz's Antique Hardware in Los Angeles, offers more than one million pieces of original hardware dating from 1850 to 1950 and has been hailed by Matha Stewart Livingas "perhaps the best supermarket for antique hardware in the country." Gordon lives in Los Angeles.
What Our Readers Are Saying
Other books you might like