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material world: mirrors

Calm water was most likely the first source of one’s reflection–which eventually led to narcissism named after the Greek god Narcissus.

Over time, many advances were made in the development of mirrors which led to today’s pristine versions. If you’ve ever seen dark, spotty antique mirrors, imagine what crude reflections the Romans saw from blown glass coated with molten lead. became a center of mirror production in the 1500s using new techniques based on its glass-making expertise. Not long after, owning them became a luxury and status symbol which helps explain the decadent Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.

Obviously they’re one of the most reliable ways of making a room appear larger. In the 70s however, mirrors were a literal reflection of disco and Glam Rock as their floor to ceiling sparkle overwhelmed many a sunken living room. For a modern look to increase space visually, consider infinity mirrors.

It’s no surprise that original Feng Shui beliefs were that mirrors related to the element of water and can increase or shift energy flow. In recent decades, proper placement in Western homes became just as relevant as yoga and green teas.

Today, “spy” mirrors—convex glass reflecting a wider area than flat glass—are most often used for safely allowing a peak around a corner. But they’re a whimsical touch when placed in an eclectic, sophisticated room.

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Reader Comments (3)

Venetian mirrors may have been the most famous of the age, but the mirrors gracing the walls of the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles were home grown- production plus shipping costs would have been too high even for the French royal palace, but never to be outdone in style, the French went ahead and began manufacturing their own mirrors. This was around the same time as when they decided they should stop letting the Belgian's have all the fun with lace, too.

Nice article! Mirrors rock, no matter what size. I've been searching out the perfect vintage hand-held mirror to add that touch of old-fashioned glamor to a vanity table.

April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

OK, guys, you are such good writers, photographers, designers etc BUT do you not mean "peek" instead of "peak"!!?

April 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentereve

Feng Shui 101: Never put a mirror facing your bed.

September 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCME

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