Old world crafts are finding a comfortable niche in new world, high tech structures.
Ironwork, stained glass, leaded art glass, mosaics, architectural woodcarving, and even faux paint finishes, are adorning our public spaces again. These symbols of a weathered time in history, when detailed construction represented the crowning achievement of master craftsmen, are visual reminders of our ability to stir the soul with great works of art. Handcrafted elements work hand-in-hand with fine art in new hospitality environments, adding warmth and emotional appeal to prospective clients and potential clientele.
This concept is not new. Evidence reveals that in sixteenth century Japan, Christian missionaries commissioned craftsmen to produce rich and beautiful Japanese lacquered implements and furnishings for use in newly built churches and chapels. In the early 1980s, there was a resurgence of artwork, antiques, and handcrafted items featured in hotel lobbies and guest rooms throughout Canada and the United States. Now, hoteliers and restaurateurs see the investment in art as an immediate return on their money. Trendsetting lobbies are transformed into museums, while luxurious guestrooms mimic private galleries, giving the patrons a sense of intimacy and participation in the creative process. The clientele is more sophisticated and discriminating today. Even when guests can’t specifically identify the attention to detail, they can definitely sense it and are drawn to it.
Introducing the work of artisans into an interior scheme is satisfying and rewarding for both the creators and end users. While these products may seem expensive and beyond budget constraints, some faux finish arts cost 25 to 30 percent less per square foot than specialty wall coverings found in important areas such as lobbies and ballrooms. Forged iron and aluminum can be simulated with water jet cut parts or casted pieces distressed to look hand-forged. The value outweighs the cost, as these old world crafts give the designer and architect a vocabulary to celebrate the clients’ concepts. This vocabulary reaches beyond just texture—as is so often emphasized—and adds dimension to a surrounding as only art can.