Volume 38, Issue 12, December 2003


by Dez Farnady

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Reflecting on Mirrors and Some of Their Uses

I love mirrors, and if it was not for my wife’s threats I would have more in my house. But after the last piece I offered to bring home, I was told one more mirror and I get to clean them all. 

Mirrors are a great tool for the decorator and can create wonderful effects. They can make a short room look long, a narrow one look wide, a little one look bigger and so on. The decorative combinations offer endless possibilities and I have been face to face with a great many of them. 

Mirror Aesthetics 
One of my less enjoyable mirror experiences involved the attractive use of mirrors in a multi-story office complex. There was bronze mirror paneling all around the entry, up the grand staircase and up and down the walls from floor to ceiling. The only problem was that as the mirrors wrapped around the staircase and up the wall they had a checkerboard look. The customer complained and I went to look. Sure enough, there was a crazy quilt patchwork of half a dozen different shades of bronze mirror. Upon checking the source of the problem I found out that the mirror was optimized when cut out of stock from mixed size cases from at least four different mirror manufacturers. The bronze glass that the silvering is on is standard commodity bronze float glass. All bronze glass looks the same and the silvering process is pretty much the same—but put it together and it’s crazy quilt time. The only way we could eliminate the checkerboard look on the job was by re-cutting half the job and making sure we were using mirror from only one manufacturer. 

On another occasion I had a call from a customer who was looking to replace a broken piece of bronze mirror in a large San Francisco hotel. He did not know whose mirror it was, so we both knew there could be a color-match problem. I had visions of supplying endless numbers of sheets of bronze mirror from every manufacturer we knew in the vain attempt to make sure we found one that matched. He then found out that it was Japanese mirror and yes, it was one piece out of a whole lot of pieces. So before I expended too much time, I called our Hawaii branch that at that time used only Japanese mirror. I asked the branch manager what to do and he said useJapanese 

I said, “Whose Japanese mirror?”

He said, “Any Japanese mirror.”

I said, “This is bronze.”

And he said, “So what? They all match.”

How do they do that?

Mirror Everywhere
My most vivid mirror memory is from my days on the road. It had been a long day. I had driven from San Jose, Calif., to Sacramento in the morning and spent the day making sales calls. In the evening I had a dinner engagement with a customer so it was nearly 11 p.m. before I finally got to the hotel to crash for the night, and I was tired. 
When I tried to check in I was told by the desk clerk that they were sold out. Since I had a confirmed reservation he had to give me a room, so I ended up with an upgrade. The upgrade turned out to be one of the presidential suites. They had a half a dozen suites down a long corridor, each with a president’s name on the door. I don’t remember which president’s room I had, but I can promise you he had never stayed there.

The first thing I did when I got to the room was head for a good hot-water soak. I stopped short the moment I stepped into the bathroom. Everywhere I looked I saw me. Now me and I are pretty familiar with each other, but I have never had this close a look. Every single wall was covered with mirrors from floor to ceiling or from countertop to ceiling. The bathtub, on an elevated platform, was 6 feet long and there were so many mirrors in the room that I did not even notice the one on the ceiling above the bathtub till I stretched out half submerged in the comfort of the warm water.

The sheer fact of looking from mirror to mirror that reflected back an infinite number of images of me looking at me was disconcerting. After the soak, when I thought I would escape to the bedroom, I found myself looking at me again, this time from the mirror opposite the foot of the bed that was reflecting me from the mirror above the headboard. Now, it was not wallpaper that I was selling, but even a good thing can be a bit much. When I climbed into the elevated king-sized bed and flopped on my back, I was looking at myself once again in the mirrors on the ceiling. I rolled over, buried my face in the pillows and slept, with even my dreams reflecting multiple images. 


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