Feng shui, a 3,500-year-old technique of building and furniture placement, has seen an increase in Western decorating in the past 15 years. One of the side benefits has been an increase in the use of decorative Oriental hardware and accessories to ward off evil and promote good fortune. Placing a set of lions at your front door will ward off evil spirits as well as giving you a feng-shui advantage by bringing prosperity to your doorstep. Both Asian and non-Asian furniture can get a design boost by the use of Oriental cabinet hardware. Adding a touch of the Orient to your decor gives it a unique and trendy look. You can surround yourself in the beauty and sophistication of timeless elegance that the Asian culture represents.
Oriental cabinet hardware traces its roots to the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), when furniture first began being made in China. Traditional Oriental hardware was made of heavy brass and moulded into shapes and forms that were of significance in a Chinese household. The end result was rich, opulent and gorgeous pieces of handcrafted excellence made from heavy brass that carefully exemplifies those items of culture and nature that those in the region hold most dear.
Decorative cabinet hardware usually breaks down into two categories: plates and pulls. Plates are usually round or elliptical in shape and are used on a set of double doors. Center plates can give doors an antiquated, sophisticated look. Pulls are used on drawers and cabinets. Popular designs are characters from the Chinese alphabet or items traditionally associated with the Asian culture, such as lotus flowers and Asian symbols for happiness and tranquillity. Replicas of old shop signs or family crests are also popular. Some of the most common shapes are pentagon or octagon.
Plates and pulls are usually installed by use of pins rather than screws. The pins are threaded through the wood in similar fashion to screws, but they are then bent flat on the opposite side to hold the pull or plate taut. In most cases, the pins hold tighter than a conventional screw.
Other Possible Uses
Don't stop with just cabinets and doors. Asian hardware has a timeless elegance and can be used as a towel rack, coat hangar or simply mounted in a group for a touch of Asian art on a wall. The uses are endless.
Most Oriental cabinet hardware won't need polishing, since it is made of pure brass. Simply wipe the hardware quickly with a cloth dipped into a mix of soap and water. Wipe lightly, going with the grain.