Metal Makes a Comeback

Metal frames are experiencing a resurgence as more designers go with retro looks and interior styles with metal accents

By Amy L. Sudol

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This trade show display of Larson-Juhl metal moulding highlights the many colors and the sophisticated look available to framers today.

Frame shops offer a gateway between clients and an ever-expanding universe of framing materials. Staying abreast of trends in interior styles and the latest products is a sure way to meld artistry with relevance to your customers’ tastes to achieve designs that have real panache and sales appeal in today’s market.
One of the current trends that framers have been seeing is a renewed popularity of metal frames. Metal as a design element in home decor hit a peak in the 1980s, with the inexpensive, easy-to-assemble, chrome-accented furnishings that were highly popular at the time. Today metal is experiencing a comeback as more designers go with a more retro look or punctuate different interior styles with metal accents. This has led to an increased interest in metal moulding.

New perspectives on metal frames are constantly emerging in the framing industry. As Mark LeSaffre, owner of A Street Frames in Cambridge, MA, says, “People are always clamoring for something new.” And that something new in framing has become the latest styles, colors, and textures of today’s metal moulding.

Whether retail or corporate, customers are availing themselves of the stylish accents that metal adds to any interior. “Metal should be celebrated for its inherent beauty,” says Paula Jackson, designer at Larson-Juhl. “Whether brushed, polished, painted, or anodized, each style plays to its strengths as a decorative accessory.”

Harold Milby, vice president of sales at Designer Moulding, also believes in the look of metal for metal’s sake. “We have always played to metal’s strength, accentuating the fact that it is metal and never trying to make it look like anything other than what it is.” As his company has found new interest in these products, Designer Moulding has recently added new profiles and finishes to its metal moulding line. “New powders being produced today have different attributes than what has previously been available, things like unusual textures, translucent colors, and powders that are designed to look like anodized finishes,” he adds.

In the retail market, contemporary metal looks are showing up in eclectic interiors. Holly Stephan, vice president of Gil Walsh Interiors of Palm Beach and Martha’s Vineyard, says metals are increasingly used in the transitional look that is popular in home decor today. Blending the new with the old appeals to homeowners because they can use what they already have and add interest with modern accents. “The mass market relies on home decor websites and magazines for tips and trends,” she says. “The metal frame is a staple in the transitional design scheme, not least of all because of the array of choices that can suit any budget.”

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A variety of metal profiles and colors are available in Frameware’s Profiles metal moulding line (above). Black and metallics are among the more popular colors in Frameware’s standard metal moulding options (right).

The trend is also making itself felt in the corporate environment, where the use of metals is on the rise. For many businesses, the goal of creative design is generally to enhance an interior’s beauty for the purpose of attracting more customers. Stephan notes the popularity of metal in the hospitality and other industries. “Today, many restaurants and hotels lean toward a modern look because clean lines create a pleasing open and airy environment,” she says. “Sleek designs can offer an optimal venue for displaying contemporary art, creating a gallery feel. In a modern setting, metal moulding is the preferred choice.”

Dean DeLuccia, president of Frameware, says that he has seen an increase in the use of metal accents and moulding in the hospitality industry, particularly in the East, from Florida on up the coast. He has been supplying a rising number of restaurants, hotels, and beauty salons with metal framing supplies.
While silver, gold, and black are generally the most widely sold, DeLuccia notes an uptick in the demand for wider crosshatch silver mouldings, often as a designer’s choice for framing mirrors. One of the reasons for the growth, he says, is ease of use. “Metal is easy to clean, and you don’t have to worry about high humidity,” he says. In humid areas of hotels, such as an indoor pool or in open areas, corrosion can be problematic. “I know of framing jobs that have had to be replaced with metal,” he adds.

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