Mirrors and reflections in interior spaces lifestyle
Our own images reflect back at us in new architecture and new interior design.
Throughout the ages, looking in a mirror in search of the effects of light on glass has been a recurring theme through which we see various visions of history, literature and art. From the myth of Narcissus gazing into the tranquil waters to contemporary selfies, our world is a string of mirrors that reflect our image or environment right back at us.
Water, window panes, display windows, shop windows… they are all mirrors. Sometimes what is just optical illusion or our own duplicated image becomes distorted in our minds, a trick of the imagination that has had a notable influence on our spaces. With time, technological advances ushered these objects into architecture and the interiors of buildings, and they eventually took their place in the home and became part of everyday life, feeding our need to look at ourselves, recognise our own image and reflect our own truth.
Writer Jorge Luis Borges transposed the function of a mirror into literary reflections, into symbols of every human act. They are the mirrors of the soul: not only for us to analyse our supposed reality, but also to examine the uncertainty and fear of the relentless passage of time.
“I have been horrified before all mirrors not just before the impenetrable glass, the end and the beginning of that space, inhabited by nothing but reflections…”
“Mirrors” Jorge Luis Borges
Mirrors dominated 19th-century ballrooms, as well as circuses where bizarre reflections in concave or convex forms play hall of mirror tricks. By the 20th century they had made their way into new women’s fashion boutiques, such as the famous staircase in the Coco Chanel atélier in Paris. They had become a part of everyday life, or a disturbing element of films such as Orson Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai or Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad, and a wealth of other intriguing or allegorical examples abound in cinema.
In his recent work “Alfredo Pirri, espacio privado, arte público” (Alfredo Pirri, private space, public art) professor Fernando Moral examines the work of contemporary artist Alfredo Pirri in which mirrors take on a significant spatial role in architectural interiors and the human reflection: “These projects blur the notion of limits: the mirrored floor almost becomes a unique instrument that redefines the space”. You can also see the relevance of self portraits and the dreamed reflection in works from Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, or the spherical faceted mirrors of Anish Kapoor, created for us to lose ourselves in “self-contemplation”.
Infinite mirrors that reflect – or imagine our reality, where we can view our environment as a repeated stage, duplicating itself into infinity.
Created by X + Living, the Chongqing Zhongshuge bookshop uses mirrors to transport us to a play on the notion of time, with overlapping structures and reflections that achieve an awe-inspiring effect.
The contemporary mirrored elements bring us ever closer to that simple object, the book. Shops and commercial spaces will become a game. And if they don’t, they will cease to exist.
Nature’s self portrait
A mirror into our desires, an awareness of broken nature and the constructions that reflect the image of nature back to us. The famous Tree Hotel in Sweden is home to various cabins designed by Snøhetta and Tham & Videgård Arkitekter, where mirrors duplicate the effects of the forest. The landscape, changing light over the day and night, and changing seasons all transform the mirrored façades and multiply this visual effect.
A mirror to the hustle and bustle of the market
The mirrored canopy over Els Encants market in Barcelona, designed by Fermín Vázquez and his team at b720, reflects the hubbub of buying and selling, bargaining and vacillations of the flea market which moved to Las Glorias plaza seven years ago.
One of the most enduring examples we see in cities is the reflection of the sky and other buildings. Skyscrapers tall and small with glass or mirrored façades are the very definition of rationalist, international style. It is a way of linking cities with a sense of internal and external multiplication. Constructing buildings this way has become global, thanks in part to the accelerated evolution of technology and the need for models that can be replicated, rejecting eclecticism and divergence.
The US Center office block in Shanghai, developed by Foster + Partners, incorporates tinted mirror façades with superimposed geometric blocks and defined lines.