Ageing beautifully

One of our materials stands out above all others. Rather than remaining unchanged, it bears traces. Traces of the manufacturing process, usage, the surroundings, the environment. It lives and ages – becoming ever more beautiful.

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Handcrafted individual pieces

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Tips for handling burnished brass

Mechanical wear leaves behind traces. Which is why it is advisable to take a gentle approach with the surface. Brass is highly robust and durable, but the burnishing is not a seal.

  • We recommend cleaning with a soft cloth without any abrasive agents or solvents.

  • When using a code lock, the number combination should be changed on a regular basis. Otherwise, over time it will become evident which buttons are pressed the most.

An alternative with almost indestructible surfaces can be found in the PVD coating in a range of colours.

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A lively material

Siedle regards and treats burnished brass as a lively, changing material. The burnishing is carried out by hand, resulting in a non-uniform coloured surface upon delivery. Depending on the treatment, its surroundings and environmental influences, the material changes with the passing of time. It often darkens and becomes more homogeneous, but it may also exhibit bright areas, stripes or spots, caused, for example, by water run-off. These effects are unpredictable but are desirable. They have no effect on the functionality or durability of the system.

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Traces of the environment and use

How and how quickly the material changes is heavily dependent on the environmental conditions. Sunlight, rain, moisture or skin contact are all factors which can have an effect. This effect may be enhanced if it is installed in masonry. When water is enriched with soluble salts from the masonry, it leaves behind spots. The same applies to salty air near the sea.

Unsuitable care products or improper installation can have a particularly unfavourable effect.

www_100_Villa_S_117_19264_2-2_800.jpg

Tips for handling burnished brass

Mechanical wear leaves behind traces. Which is why it is advisable to take a gentle approach with the surface. Brass is highly robust and durable, but the burnishing is not a seal.

  • We recommend cleaning with a soft cloth without any abrasive agents or solvents.

  • When using a code lock, the number combination should be changed on a regular basis. Otherwise, over time it will become evident which buttons are pressed the most.

An alternative with almost indestructible surfaces can be found in the PVD coating in a range of colours.

CL_BD3A_01_B02_ELM_Messing_071er_15499_800.jpg

A lively material

Siedle regards and treats burnished brass as a lively, changing material. The burnishing is carried out by hand, resulting in a non-uniform coloured surface upon delivery. Depending on the treatment, its surroundings and environmental influences, the material changes with the passing of time. It often darkens and becomes more homogeneous, but it may also exhibit bright areas, stripes or spots, caused, for example, by water run-off. These effects are unpredictable but are desirable. They have no effect on the functionality or durability of the system.

Traces of life

For a long time, only flawless items were considered desirable. 
Perhaps it is time for a rethink.

A piece by design journalist and author Gerrit Terstiege about how material can bear witness to time in architecture 

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Lettering by Carlo Scarpa at the showroom in St Mark's Square. The sea air adds to the desired oxidation of the brass.

When designing a building, every architect is aware that they are creating something lasting: The aim of architectural art is to creatively and aesthetically set the course for decades. But as much as a building formulates an architectural vision, this vision is subject to changes as a physical reality. Time leaves behind traces. In this way, a building reflects the contact of its inhabitants and the effects of the sun, wind and rain.

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The handrail on the stairs to Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Scarpa frequently used classic materials such a brass and wood.

You can fight the formation of such patinas by all means available – or instead, and perhaps more wisely, include the aspect of ageing when choosing a material. How about selecting a patinated material right from the start, knowing exactly how it will age – and making aesthetic use of this process? In addition to specific natural stones and wood, it is copper and brass which age in an appealing manner, storing traces of use in an attractive way, leading to a environmental symbiosis with other materials over the years.

Italian architect Carlo Scarpa (1906–1978) is known for his very subtle handling of patinated materials. Numerous buildings by the Venetian-born architect are now celebrated jewels of the lagoon city, such as his legendary Olivetti showroom or his agreeable work in the historical building of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia. Such buildings become more beautiful as the traces of time are left on the materials.

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Steel door station in burnished brass after several years in an unprotected outdoor area.

Architects often talk about the honesty of a material. In this sense, the authenticity of a material is a major asset in architecture. And a patina, which is not due to neglect, but arises from years of care and appropriate use of the objects, has increased in importance in recent years. This is precisely because using items for a long time, rather than thinking in short cycles, also protects the environment.

About the author
Gerrit Terstiege studied at the ‘Köln International School of Design’, was editor in chief of the design journal form for many years and visiting professor at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design. Terstiege has published three books on design theory and practice and writes regularly about design and architecture for magazines and blogs.

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