I’ve been thinking a lot about patina recently. It’s probably because I’m developing one of my own as I navigate through my 50s, but I’m also finding it more and more a factor in the design choices I’m making. Obviously – like my own patinated provenance – these choices indicate a preference for vintage, and if you know me, you’ll know that I do lean towards pre-loved classics. In the past, I’ve been inclined to remove patina and restore these objects to as-close-to-new condition as I could. Whether it’s my ’68 Mercedes or a Facebook Marketplace bargain-find ’70s lamp, I’ve preferred to clean, sand and respray. But I’ve changed.
The change has mostly been in the aesthetics department, though I guess one could argue an existential element that links my advancing years to an appreciation of the marks experience leaves. Whatever the reason, the laboured point here is that I’m appreciating patina more and more. And most recently, with regards to an armchair I’m looking for.
My heart is set on one of (or even one in the style of ) Brazilian designer Percival Lafer’s Mid-century masterpieces. I’ve seen a couple, but they’ve been fully restored – all perfect leather and gleaming dark wood. Compare that to an untouched example whose wood bears one or two honourable nicks and is draped in worn-soft, creased leather, and instead you have a characterful piece that proudly displays its service.
It’s an admittedly nostalgic approach, and it isn’t always the right one – especially when it comes to architecture. Whether they are commercial or residential structures,buildings need to change and adapt to the requirements of modern life. No-one wants to live or work in a museum piece – and to sensitively renovate and refurb is a far more sustainable approach than to demolish and rebuild.
In this issue of VISI, we have some great examples of what I’m talking about. Have a look at architect Vedhant Maharaj’s thoughtful reworking of a 1930s Bauhaus-inspired residence in Parkview (page 112), Icelandic interior designer Rut Káradóttir’s reimagining of a barn in Stokkseyri (page 78), and Robert Silke’s intuitively simple interventions on a forgotten Georgian commercial building in Cape Town’s city centre (page 154).
There are, of course, many other fascinating stories to read in issue #126 of VISI, including a feature on some cool local Instagrammers selling Mid- century furniture (page 158). Obviously, if you guys miraculously happen upon an unrestored Lafer armchair, you know who to call…
– Steve Smith, Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
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