art nouveau

Art Nouveau a lasting inspiration

We have written about our love of Art Nouveau and are now taking a trip to Brussels in homage of Victor Horta, one of the pioneers and master of this organic and fluid style of architecture. We left England in the 80’s with an appreciation of the French masters in this field but did not become familiar with the Brussels legend until meeting Kareem Abdul- Jabbar also a legend and an Art Nouveau enthusiast. Martin was hired to fabricate the entry door, interior doors and stair rails for his Bel Air residence. When we arrive in Brussels and see Horta’s work in person we will share this experience in a later post. Meanwhile I want to focus on this local residence where the styles of Horta, Guimar and Mucha came together to create a splendid home.



The front door was carved from Honduras mahogany as a collection of over-sized irises in a style reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha’s colorful posters. The interior of the front door borrowed its direction from Guimard but for the main archways and interior doors the whiplash center of the casement molding and tweezed hair design of the corners are much truer to Horta’s work.



Horta’s aesthetic can also be seen in the large interior doors especially where wood meets glass and the birds eye maple panel is bisected by a central astragal carved as a budding tendril.

Kareem 3.jpg


The stair rail was made in sections of solid bronze using a cow parsley pattern carved by Martin and based on the floral works of Mucha.

Kareem 1.jpg



Biophilia and interior design

One of the true highlights of the 2015 HD Expo this year was the time we spent and the very enlightening conversation we had with artist Ted Morrison.  A visit to his website will be worth your time. Ted introduced us to the concept of biophilia, defined by Wikipedia as:

“means "love of life or living systems." It was first used by Erich Fromm to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.[3] Wilson uses the term in the same sense when he suggests that biophilia describes "the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.” He proposed the possibility that the deep affiliations humans have with other life forms and nature as a whole are rooted in our biology. Unlike phobias, which are the aversions and fears that people have of things in the natural world, philias are the attractions and positive feelings that people have toward organisms, species, habitats, processes and objects in their natural surroundings.

This is such an interesting concept especially in the way it pertains to the arts.  This idea can certainly guide and inspire future designs as we begin to better understand the way our clients are drawn to the "things" that appear in their natural surroundings including plants, creatures, animal and insect habitats etc.  In truth, Martin has always been interested in studying the habitats of the subjects of some of his designs and we have shared some of our trips to the local mountains to locate these habitats with you.

During the Expo Ted attended a round table seminar where designers and show attendees discussed how, on its simplest level, biophilia offers an explanation as to why curved and fluid shapes are more pleasing to people and more relaxing, if you will, than straight- edged pieces.  He returned to our booth after the lecture and commented that we must be “ahead of the curve” as the Morphic and Ergo designs were inherently “biophiliac designs”. While the compliment was well received, both Martin and I pay tribute to the Art Nouveau movement for much of our design inspiration and think this  period was perhaps the most biophiliac movement we have seen in centuries.

One of our new designs attracted a lot of attention at the HD Expo, our new Dragon Egg sconce, and with its membrane like cutout pattern certainly falls into the biophiliac category.

Dragon egg wall sconce by Martin Pierce hardware  Los Angeles CA  90016 Photo by Doug Hill

To view these items as well as our entire collection of architectural hardware, please visit our site at

Designers can visit the showroom located at:

5433 W. Washington Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA  90016

323 939 5929

Fine examples of modernisme mosaic

A few weeks ago we traveled to Spain with the specific goal of visiting many of Antoni Gaudi's works. Along the way we stumbled upon the works of another great name from the Modernisme period, Montaner.  We share parts of our story here. One of the more remarkable aspects of the work of these two geniuses is their use of mosaic tile.  But not just any mosaic lieu of the more expected symmetrically cut glass, they both incorporate broken tile pieces into their designs.  These irregular pieces of tile and glass give their work an organic edge that we find so interesting and appealing, especially when juxtaposed with the exposed brick and ironwork of the buildings they design.

In this photo you can clearly see the mosaic pattern in the red background.

martin pierce montaner broken tile sample from barcelona



martin pierce montaner ceiling light and colorAnd, while this photo does not do justice to this remarkable domed ceiling, it does give you an idea of what to expect from Montaner i.e. exposed iron supports and curvilinear shapes as seen in the various patterns.

As we have shared, Martin Pierce continues to be inspired by the work of these two gentlemen as well as the Art Nouveau and other early 20th century art and architecture movements.  Following this very inspirational vacation I am looking forward to what the future holds for our custom hardware designs and sculpture.

For some inspiration of your own, please visit our site at to view our entire collection of architectural hardware.