I noticed it several months ago when I was looking for a metal coffee tale for a client. We wanted a champagne finish: that beautiful subtle tone that sits right between silver and gold. But what I was finding was brass. Antiqued, dialed-down brass, but nonetheless, brass finish. I was really surprised. Brass hasn't had its heyday since the 70s and recently, its use has been primarily for formal fixtures and accessories. The presidential race has given us plenty of exposure to Donald Trump. Magazine spreads profiling his home in Trump Plaza NYC exhibit tres francais furnishings, plenty of marble surfaces and brass tone finishes. Contemporary projects usually leverage chrome or brushed nickel for their metal finishes while black and oil rubbed bronze are incorporated into country and spanish-influenced design. Copper? Beautiful copper has typically been reserved for copper pots displayed in a kitchen, and bar or powder room sinks. Because copper will absolutely patina, its usefulness has been limited to designs that will accept this discoloration.
These are generalities and great design never pays homage to the rules, but you look at these images, they probably feel right and expected. However, over the last year Ive seen metal finishes showing up in unexpected applications. Copper is now becoming a more frequent option for lighting and hardware. An applied coating is suppressing the patina that traditionally was considered the beauty of copper, and is now maintaining its bright tone. This rise in the popularity of copper seems to parallel the current rage for rose gold jewelry. Likewise, brass in a less....brassy...version :-) than its predecessor, is showing up in more contemporary shapes and applications.
As the broadly followed boundaries between metal finishes and their usages blur, so too, does the necessity of sticking with one finish throughout a project. As jewelry design increasingly mixes gold tones on single pieces, doing so within your interior design can add an element of eclectic interest and highlight a focal point. Just make sure to do it with purpose.