Brass, copper, even bronze: they’ve been having their heyday in the interiors world over the last few years.
But whatever happened to silver? Not chrome, polished nickel and all those silver-colored items, but the real thing: Sterling, Britannia, Argentium, even silver plate? Why don’t we see more of it in vessels and containers?
I personally love silver: there’s a warmth to it, a depth that you don’t get elsewhere. It has character. And like linen with its wrinkles, I find tarnish a big part of its charm.
Part of the reason silver isn’t used more in decoration is its relative expense compared to the more popular metals. And it’s a little out of vogue: just try selling the family silver these days. It smacks of your grandmother, something ineffably old fashioned.
So in the US, silversmiths tend to concentrate on jewelry with its smaller form factors and larger markets. So if you want to find truly exceptional silver vessels to decorate your home, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Many of the world’s best silver and metal smiths work in the UK, with its tradition of silversmithing and appreciation of the craft. One of my favorites (to put it mildly) is Adi Toch. Born in Israel and trained at Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem, she followed this by getting an MA at The Cass, in London in 2009.
Since then, the young silversmith’s been on a tear. Her work’s been exhibited internationally, and has been picked up in numerous permanent collections. These include the highly prestigious Goldsmith’s Company, the Crafts Council (UK), the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, National Museums Scotland and the Jewish Museum in New York. She’s also gained a devoted coterie of collectors, who find her through places such as London’s Contemporary Applied Arts.
For those who prone to thinking that silver is hard and cold,Toch’s organic, sculptural work will be a revelation, a complete experience for the senses. Each piece begs to be picked up, touched, and stroked. And many have been designed to be heard: Toch likes to fill her vessels with sand, gemstones, spices and oil. Mysterious, sensual and expertly crafted, the deliver pleasure on multiple levels.
There are her exquisite oil drizzlers and her oil and vinegar pourer, with its gold plated interior. Then there’s her Tactile series, which hold the oils and spices. And her oxidized silver jug.
One of the most charming pieces is one she calls Pinch of Salt, which is made of gold plated Britannia silver. The bowl is designed to ensure that just one pinch at a time can be reached through the opening. And it’s been designed so that the salt won’t spill out of the bowl if it’s tipped over: a recipe for luck. How lovely is that?
As she writes, “The practice of making vessels and containers fascinates me as it enables to work both with metal and space as materials, redefining borders between inside and outside. Through my work I explore the morphological qualities of vessels and the process of embedding functional objects with spirit. I create contemplative work, communicating through its tactile essence.”
It’s time to celebrate silver again, because in the right hands, it’s transformed from something merely luxurious to something truly precious. And with the help of people like Adi Toch, I’m guessing that it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Functional art, mysterious talismen, beautiful objects. Each one, utterly precious.
All Images courtesy of Adi Toch
Plump Segmented Vessels: Image by Odi Caspi
Oil and Vinegar: Image by The Goldsmiths Company
Grey Jug: Image by Sussie Ahlburg
Oil Drizzlers: Image by Sussie Ahlburg
Pinch of Salt: Image courtesy of Adi Toch
Reflection Bowl: Image by Simon Armitt
Whistling Vessels: Image by Simon Armitt
Pebble Bowl (from the Tactile series): Image by Simon Armitt