As a child, I would often pretend mirrors were windows, and wonder whether I was looking out into another room, or if someone I couldn’t see was looking into mine. I was told it was “bad” to stand and stare at myself in a mirror. I learned it was vain to primp and preen before a mirror too long. Such advice and counseling only made me adore mirrors more. Like many things taboo, mirrors were a fixation for me in my youth.
People generally have strong associations with mirrors – most of them not so terrific. As a child we learn that a talking mirror helped seal the fate of Snow White. Later, we learn of the adventures of Alice in Wonderland or more correctly, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. And somewhere between those two experiences, we are taught that breaking a mirror brings us seven years of bad luck.
Mirrors are responsible for a sleeping curse, a crazy journey into a backward world and (if we’re not careful), a predetermined number of years of misfortune? No wonder design clients often shun mirrors when presented as option in home decorating schemes.
The good news is that today’s mirrors are being used in innovative and different ways. Mirrors are turning up in unique applications in every room in today’s homes and, as far as I know, not a single one has caused any serious harm to its owner.
Traditionally, mirrors have been used as a tool to open up a space. Mirrors reflect and expand a room, making it appear larger than it really is. The reflective qualities of mirrors magnify light and bounce it around into dark corners. One of the first uses of mirror was behind candles to amplify the light, making the room appear brighter. Mirrored sconces are still very popular in today’s home décor, and new treatments such as bubble glass have made the sconces much more contemporary in feeling. Even the classic bull’s-eye mirror form has been updated with new materials, with frames made of everything from horn to driftwood, recycled rubber to gleaming polished metal. [pictured, left: Sadie mirrored wall sconces]
The most classic use of mirror is to observe one’s own reflection. Powder rooms and hallways often have mirrors so we can check ourselves out before mingling with friends and family. Today’s contemporary mirrors have elevated self-examination to an art form. With pieces featuring smoked or antiqued mirror glass, or “fractured” mirrors that have panes of mirrors mounted at different angles (sometimes mixed with wood or other materials), seeing your whole face at once isn’t always easy. But those mixed media mirrors look amazing in today’s homes. It is definitely an example of something old being reinvented for today’s consumer.