In the Details: Living Materials — Brass

Cultivating material reverence.

This is the first in a series of Journal pieces exploring Kalon’s relationship with living materials.

Kalon is a materials-focused practice. Our material selections are a primary driving force of our designs, right alongside sustainability and long lasting functionality. But that’s not just because we love the look of the wood, brass, and linens we use. It goes beyond beauty.

In today’s furniture industry, materials are so often taken for granted, which makes their ecosystem of impact go unacknowledged. When wood is simply wood — abstracted from its particular species, forest, locality — environmental and supply chain considerations become invisible. When materials are given the illusion of infinite supply and effortless production, furniture can easily be regarded as disposable. 

Our mission has always existed beyond the confines of our brand: Through Kalon, we champion alternative perspectives so that we may contribute to the cultivation of more reverence for materials, greater awareness of resources, and a desire to buy fewer, better things. The way we see it, spending time telling the stories of seemingly small or oft-overlooked details invites deeper connections.

Brass is one of those materials we have a particular affinity for — an alloy of copper and zinc, its popularity as a decorative material dates to ancient times, as far back as 5th millennium BC in China. By the Roman period, brass was being deliberately produced from metallic copper and zinc minerals and was the material of choice for coinage and military equipment across the Roman world. Historically, brasses have been hand-polished, which maximized their reflectivity.  Before the advent of electricity, evening lighting was precious and brasses helped illuminate rooms by reflecting candlelight.

Though we still tend to see brass polished to a high shine in furniture and interior decor, our love for it is more fluid, tied to its mercurial nature. We love brass because it ages and transforms over time. The machine-polished brass accents in our Simple Collection naturally patina and age in correlation to an individual’s proclivity for polish — but mostly depending on the piece’s environment. Air flow, light, amount of use, and natural oils from your hands all conspire to create a singular, unique appearance over time. The various brass accents in our home carry with them an inherent time register: new pieces shine while older pieces boast a wonderfully rich depth of near-black oxidation. Within their design, these pieces nod to years passed, and in so doing, ground us in greater presence and reverence.