Original story by Elise Taylor, edited by Alexis Bennet for Vogue
We share this article on our website, because we find it quite fascinating that the sales of antique mirrors during the Covid-19 lockdown went through the roof. So indeed! What is going on!? Not only the Ultrafragola mirror was much sought after; full length antique mirrors and simple golden Louis Philippe mirrors are a hit as well.
2020 was the year our appearances mattered the least. There were no parties to go to, no fancy dinners, no 500-person weddings. Yet, ironically, mirror interest skyrocketed. CB2 reported that mirrors were their most-searched home product, with over 4 million inquiries. 1stDibs saw a double digit increase in mirror searches overall, and a triple digit increase for one in particular: the “Ultrafragola” designed by Ettore Sottsass for Poltronova. (Celebrity owners include Lena Dunham and Bella Hadid.) Meanwhile, New York Design Center says they, too, have “seen an uptick in mirror sales” at their brick-and-mortar outpost, The Gallery at 200 Lex.
The question is, why? Are we masochists who like to gaze upon our unkempt, sweatpant-clad reflection? Are we so vain that we needed “selfie mirrors” to keep our Instagram content flowing? Turns out, we were buying mirrors not because we wanted to look at something—we bought them because we wanted to look away.
For so many of us, life was once spent in several other locations besides our residences: the office, the car, a neighborhood restaurant, a family or friend’s place. But the pandemic shut everything down, rendering us homebound. Suddenly, we were, quite literally and constantly, staring at our walls for months on end. And their blankness began to bug us.
So how to fill them? Art, sure—but art can be intimidating to pick out, and expensive. Mirrors, however, are a simple yet effective way to fill the void. “Mirrors are an accessible and foolproof way to fill in wall space without having to put too much creative energy behind it,” CB2’s product development lead, Andrea Erman, tells Vogue.
Accordingly, it’s not the plain-framed, rectangular wall mirrors that are trending. Rather, it’s more decorative ones that double as aesthetic accents. “They’re statement pieces,” Erman explains. Emily B. Collins, the director of New York Design Center’s The Gallery at 200 Lex, agrees: “Most people that shop The Gallery at 200 Lex aren’t necessarily looking for mirrors to check their reflection or do their makeup in, but to instead act as an alternative to art.”
It’s an interesting return to the mirror’s historical purpose—to reflect the sun, rather than human faces. “Many of the mirrors we sell, from carved 18th century rococo examples to Francois Lembo’s mid-century modern mirrors with rich enamel and hammer decoration, were designed primarily to reflect light,” says Collins. “So as consumers and designers alike have focused more on the appearance of home in the past year, we’ve seen an uptick in mirror sales that reflect the trend antique mirrors were originally designed for—to brighten a space.”
Image from the book Bibliostyle; how to live with books (and mirrors) by Nina Freudenberger. Photography by Shade Degges.
But how do you pick a mirror that meets your room’s needs? Justina Blakeney, lifestyle expert and founder of Jungalow, says that first, you need to figure out its intended functionality. Room feeling too boxy or square? “A floor-length mirror with an arched top can add architectural interest to your space, as it may feel like you’ve added an arched doorway to the room.”
For the cramped apartment dwellers, here’s what she recommends: “If you’re using a mirror to make a space brighter, hang it opposite a window. If you’re using a mirror to make a room feel larger, think about a large-scale mirror that echoes the shape of the room, hang it at eye-level and watch as your room seems to double in size.”
And then there’s the problem that plagues so many of us—the too-blank wall: “If your room is lacking in personality and needs a little somethin’ something’, an ornate or highly decorative mirror can add a lot of flair without making your space feel busy,” she says.
We sure love Justina’s tips. So feel free to browse through our mirrors and tell us what it is you are looking for!