Steampunk July 08 2013, 0 Comments

What the heck is Steampunk, anyway?????  Basically, steampunk is a genre of science fiction that is based on fanciful and spectacular machines or gadgetry that are powered by steam!  Steampunk, whether originally intentional or not, was a definite forerunner of green production.  It re-purposes, recycles and reclaims past materials and combines them in present day functional pieces.

Steamunk is often described as speculative or hybrid fiction, because additional elements such as horror, historical fiction and fantasy are employed with retro futuristic inventions powered by steam.  It is rooted in the industrial ages perspective on all forms of culture and subcultures such as architecture, art and fashion.  Steampunk settings are generally based in the wild wild west or the Victorian era, but can also be a post-apocalyptic futuristic setting in which steam power makes a comeback. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are good examples of early steampunk authors (1950’s and 1960’s) – even though the actual term "steampunk" was not used until 1987. 

Artistic styles such as clothing fashions, art, films, music that is fashioned off of the aesthetics of the industrial Victorian era can be referred to as steampunk.  Steampunk themes can be the source of quite interesting interiors, as well.  We have seen an increase in popularity for the steampunk elements these days; many of these elements are being used in sustainable interior design. The popular list of steampunk materials include leather, dark woods and metallic finishes -- especially copper and bronze.  A possible steampunk living room might include Victorian-era-inspired leather seating, including winged backs, sofas, while metallic finishes on case goods and hard furnishings such as coffee and side tables adds an industrial ingredient that results in the steampunk look.

We are starting to see more and more designers who specialize in steampunk furniture and its close cousin, industrial furniture, as well.  The type of wood and metal used seems to be the distinguishing feature. Steampunk uses rusted metals and salvaged woods -- as opposed to the sleeker and more sterile materials employed in industrial furnishings. Motifs for the furniture pieces come from creative artists who are inspired by zeppelins, submarines and locomotives who put together such items as clock parts, nuts, bolts, gears and a myriad of other machine parts.

Steampunk is a design style that's more than just the sum of machine and watch parts.  It is another example of how we can combine the past and future (fiction or not) and produce unique and functional pieces of furniture that are artistic, punkie and funky -- and work today!  It invokes the romanticism of the Victorian Era and the realism of the industrial age in a way that allows us to span the past, present and future. 

I invite you to do some steampunk exploration on your own.  I believe you will gain a new perspective on this seemingly bizarre design style but also begin to appreciate (if you don’t already) how much fun it can be to create a piece with purpose from what some would call a pile of spare parts!