It is at least a 1,000 year old art form in Spain and about a 700 year old one in France. Some of the earliest settlers of the New World brought it with them to these shores. The strength and beauty of wrought iron design has captivated us for centuries.
Wrought iron designs signify an elegant relationship with nature, a dynamic that implies the four cardinal elements of earth, air, fire and water. It is charm wrapped in architectural elements.
Wrought iron conveys a sense of soul, a connection with history. It recalls the ancient cultures that grew up around the Mediterranean, the sea lined with more countries than any other body of water. The Romans, Ottoman, Greeks, Moors, Carthaginians, Arabs and Phoenicians.
Wrought iron designs of the Art Deco period flourished in the 1920s and 1930s. Americans had a unique twist on it, specifically drawing from the geometrics of Native American art forms. For example, the storied blankets of the Navajo, the stark and poetic pottery of the Hopi tribes and the intricate beadwork of the Sioux.
American art deco artists were also inspired by regionalism; Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie style are two of the more prominent examples. Regional flora and fauna were also highlighted, such as magnolias and pelicans in art deco designs found in the Deep South.
In the construction of wrought iron, the design possibilities are based on a linear structure; that is, one starts with building a strong and stable framework that is then filled with decorative scrollwork. By emphasizing the technical aspects, the blacksmith highlights the structure of the work and, at the same time, gives force to the design aesthetic.
Thus, a working outline for the blacksmith-artisan includes final usage and dimensions, the functional and aesthetic aspects of the intended piece, the construction methods to use that will provide durability, solidness and rigidity, and the economic considerations.
Today, wrought iron within the landscape vernacular creates an easy transition into the outdoors such as the use of an ornamental iron railing across a balcony or window. It is also designed to emphasize specific living zones as happens with a wrought iron fence, wrought iron gate or a fence around a luxury swimming pool.
Additionally, it can provide varied experiences as when it is used in an outdoor gazebo or a wrought iron trellis that divides an outdoor kitchen from a lounging area. Or it can be a simple focal point, such as a wrought iron wall element hung on a fence or an antique ornamental iron object d’art.
In general, you are well served when you import a wrought iron design style that is natural to the region, which is perfect for Houston with our semi-tropical climate that so closely resembles the Mediterranean. It is also best to match your choice of wrought iron to the architecture of your house.
Wrought iron can also underscore your intention in a themed landscape. Catalan gothic door-knockers, a Castilian cathedral grille, or elaborate iron lanterns in the Florentine style for a Mediterranean landscape design, for example.
Since 1987, Exterior Worlds has provided high-end landscape design and services for the greater Houston area.