This is the time of year when thoughts turn to romance and glamour—thanks to the presence of many a Valentine heart and Oscar™ gown. It’s also the time of year when I come back to one of my favorite materials: a humble seashell from the waters of South East Asia, the capiz. This little beauty cleans up into a delicate, ethereal and lustrous reflective surface used for everything from windows, to the chandeliers I rhapsodized about in a postlast year.
A marine mollusk, like an oyster, the shells are found in muddy or sandy shores in the shallow water of bays, coves, and lagoons. They can also be cultivated. The almost-flat shell of the capiz can grow to almost six inches in diameter. Although edible, they are more valued for the shells, often used as a raw material in the manufacture of glue, chalk and varnish.
Of course, these same shells, which are fairly unglamorous when they come out of the ocean, can be cleaned until they gleam. That is when they become the beloved material of designers, jewelry makers, artists and artisans.
In fact, the capiz seashell is sometimes known as the “windowpane oyster” as they are commonly used in windowpanes in the Philippines and other Asian countries. Imagine a window of capiz. The light must make the rooms feel like you are living inside a pearl thanks to the diffuse glow of sunshine through the creamy shells.
That brings me to one of the most beautiful uses of this material, and an unusual one: a four or five-foot high Capiz Seashell Floor Lamp from Kouboo.com. This lamp is one of those decorator miracles that would work with every possible design aesthetic. From traditional to coastal, modern to industrial, capiz makes a great partner.
I am a huge fan of juxtaposing materials and putting this lamp – or several of them –
next to concrete or steel would be, I think, pure poetry. In fact, that was exactly the idea that we had when we hung capiz chandeliers, to great effect, in a pair of Sander Architects glass-and-steel town homes last year.
Whether you are looking for glamour, or want to add a little romance to your home decorating, look no further than this beautiful little partner, the capiz seashell.
Written by Catherine Holliss
Interior Design Blog Writer,www.Kouboo.com, LLC
Director of Interior Design,Sander Architects LLC.
(Note that sources for this post include: wikipedia)
Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted.
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