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Date published: September 09 2015

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An exquisitely made tactile handle is a joy says Marie-Veronique Swannell

“During the 18th and 19th century – the hey days of decorative bronze hardware – door and furniture handles were given proper consideration and allocated substantial budgets. The huge historical catalogues and archives of the serruriers d’art, as they were known in France, bears testament to the high status of door furniture at the time, when the quality of cabinetry was judged largely on its “bronzes”. Somehow the significance of door handles waned in the aftermath of Modernism, to the extent that by the 1980’s door handles were hardly a consideration, and there was in fact very little to choose from. Whilst most handles available today are sadly banal, the likes of Haute Déco have brought about a renaissance at the high-end of architectural hardware, offering distinctive handles which make the perfect finishing touch to interior projects.

Door handles tend to be specified with two main objectives -either in the context of couture interior projects where every detail feeds into a theme. Or to provide a style statement in their own right, be it with statement handles or by adding colourful or metallic accents. An example of the former would be using the streamlined Bauhaus lever handle in pumice in conjunction with a rough-luxury scheme, alongside polished concrete floors or weathered timber; or the Hemp lever handle with its lavish weave to match the richly-textured wall coverings that are currently so fashionable. Large format Push-Pull handles, with luxurious contemporary textures work equally well as stand-alone style statements or within a larger scheme.

There is a noticeable shift in consumers’ interest in craftsmanship and their skills to create unique and beautiful products.  Because door handles are the one architectural detail that we come into direct and repeated contact with, a well-chosen, exquisitely-made handle is appreciated time and time again. Singularly, door handles are not just seen but held in the hand. Handling exquisitely-made, tactile handles that have been lovingly hand-polished is a joy that appeals to our sense of touch.

On this note, layering texture has been a trend in design for some time but we now see there has been a noticeable increase in interest towards handles adding to the textural palette.  Textural bronze offers endless options from the roughly-hewn natural patterns of Driftwood or Bark to lavish bejewelled motifs.  Handles can cross-reference to other textures used in the property: parquet flooring, timber-cladding, wall-coverings, leather upholstery, polished concrete… our Ruhlman lever handle was used in a contemporary apartment where the walls in the corridor were treated to a subtle polished-plaster designed to echo the handles’ subtle molten texture.

“Of late, the return of colour within interior schemes has been talked about and used in homes across the globe.  The new generation are enjoying the mix of strong wall colours and decadent and printed fabric designs to create an eclectic interior. With this return to bolder schemes comes a focus to decorative detail. We no longer have to embellish with only cushions and lampshades because there is also a huge market for fittings and colourful knobs . They make the ideal finishing touch for coordinating wardrobes and furniture to walls or fabrics and alongside a plethora of colours, in a variety of textures and surfaces on the market, including glossy lacquers, bold Pop-Art colours, precious gem colours, or contemporary Mediterranean colours, rooms can be successfully punctuated with luxurious, multi-layered finishing touches.

Other areas in the industry, such as wallpaper and surface specialists are reporting a further increase in demand for metallic, light reflective surfaces.  Warm metals such as rose gold, satin gold or antique bronze, help to create a sense of atmosphere in a room and picking up on this wider trend handles can also be used to add metal accents to a scheme. Particularly well suited is our unique Signature collection combining metal and glass, where the metal acquires a fluid quality by being reflected through the prism of glass.  

Consumers expect choice.  They would like the possibility of co-ordinating a scheme across a variety of designs which can suit both a contemporary or period property.  It is possible to achieve this with a vast range available across the full collection of handles – lever, doorknob, furniture handle, cabinet knobs and larger formats.

Today, with less people moving house and more people renovating or updating their homes, instant makeovers can be achieved with smaller elements which can transform a space instantly. Artwork, rugs, lighting and door knobs provide a straightforward and cost-effective solution to updating a room and adding a touch of contemporary colour and texture.

As we are continually told in life that the first impression is the lasting one – for an interiors project, it seems a distinctive handle on the front door is a good place to start.

Author: Marie-Veronique Swannell

Company: Haute Deco

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