These interior designers' modern takes on stained glass prove it's for more than just church windows
Could stained glass be what convinces us to move away from the Crittall door trend? These designers have gone bold with this colorful idea
When it comes to room dividers, internal screens and even patio doors, the Crittall door trend seems, at least this time around, to have enduring appeal. Yet, when something becomes a design classic, it's a two-sided coin. On the one side, choosing Crittall doors becomes a shortcut to a certain, well-loved aesthetic for your home – on the other, when you see them everywhere, they do start to lose their charm...
However, where this familiarity for an interior design trend like Crittall doors starts to breed contempt, you enter a space where interior designers and architects begin to look to out-there alternatives to re-introduce some magic to their scheme. Right now, I'm feeling this magic from a modern interpretation of stained glass.
Stained glass isn't the most uncommon material to find in a home, after all, it's probably as synonymous with Victorian-era front doors as it is with church windows, but the way designers are approaching this traditional craft focuses on modern color combinations and forms.
The idea of a stained glass screen or room divider might conjure an image of a wild, maximalist home, but with this new take on the idea, designers are using these colorful elements as focal points to neutral spaces to create a balance that makes these bold stained glass ideas feel less overpowering.
From ultra-modern spaces to homes retaining rustic charm, here's how stained glass is being adopted in new ways in interior design.
Luke is an interiors writer and stylist who loves modern and minimal design. While colorful stained glass is outside of his usual remit for minimal, neutral interiors, here he's investigating how this material is being used in modern ways by interior designers.
Thoroughly modern Milanese
Madrid-based designer Patricia Bustos is known for some out-there designs, but the idea for this stained glass room divider came from the owners of this apartment in the Spanish capital. 'They work in fashion and they are people with a lot of artistic sensibilities and they like to take risks,' Patricia says. 'They loved the mystical and spiritual point it brings.'
Yet, though the brief called for a Cathedral stained glass window, the couple wanted something modern. 'Something new, not a replica, something inspired by that but different,' Patricia says. Patricia created several versions before landing on this sliding door, inspired by modern Milanese design.
So how does a cathedral window translate into modern design? The traditional religious iconography makes way for Mondrian-esque shapes, while color was also at the heart of making this material feel contemporary. 'In terms of colors, they wanted something inspired by [iconic fashion brand] Hermès,' Patricia explains. While the rest of the apartment may feel pared-back, minimal and neutral in comparison, the stained glass does not feel like a random intervention. 'The chromatic ranges are the same as the ones we have played with in the rest of the house, says Patricia. 'It is the backbone of the house but it integrates phenomenally well.'
At a glance, this five-floor, five-bedroom house on the Balearic Islands, may seem like the quintessential rustic renovated farmhouse, but architects Quintana Partners had an unusual point of inspiration that manifests in the furnishings throughout, and even in the stained glass that punctuates the kitchen, dining room and courtyard.
'The building was in a dilapidated state as it had been abandoned for 20 years,' say architects Benito Escat and Pol Castells. 'We had to redo all the ceilings and carry out a thorough cleaning in order to recover the original floors.' The owners have German-Egyptian backgrounds, so alongside their African art collection, the space refers to Germany's Bauhaus movement through more utilitarian furnishings.
However, the stained glass dividers also reference Bauhaus through not only the geometric forms, but this atypical Bauhaus color palette.
Is stained glass actually practical?
So, can we see stained glass really taking off as a Crittall door alternative? In reality, it has its limitations. At the moment, it's something that is bespoke and specialized. For the room divider in the Madrid apartment, Patricia Bustos notes that the Toledo-based stain glass manufacturers she used had never made anything like it.
The weight is also something to consider. Given the heavy nature of the sliding panels, Patricia's stained glass doors needed to be motorized to ensure they were comfortable to open and close. Stained glass needs more sensitive care and maintenance also, while it's worth considering that repairing any damage will again require specialist intervention.
However, as a wider trend, colored glass, rather than stained glass per se, could be seen as a modern way to adopt the trend. From sliding doors to shower screens, manufacturers are beginning to offer a niche range of glass products in color for those looking to make more of an impact with their home's design. The Sherazade Patchwork screens shown above, created by designers Piero Lissoni and Suzanne Tick for Glas Italia, offer a more practical, modern take on stained glass for those who want to embrace color wherever they can.
Luke Arthur Wells is a freelance design writer, award-winning interiors blogger and stylist, known for neutral, textural spaces with a luxury twist. He's worked with some of the UK's top design brands, counting the likes of Tom Dixon Studio as regular collaborators and his work has been featured in print and online in publications ranging from Domino Magazine to The Sunday Times. He's a hands-on type of interiors expert too, contributing practical renovation advice and DIY tutorials to a number of magazines, as well as to his own readers and followers via his blog and social media. He might currently be renovating a small Victorian house in England, but he dreams of light, spacious, neutral homes on the West Coast.
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