All about brass – and why it's so good for lighting and interior design

brass lightsBrass can bring a timeless beauty into any home – here’s why the material has stood the test of time and still works wonders in contemporary interior design and lighting…

Stylish, elegant, and with a lovely warm lustrous glow, brass is a beautiful material to have around your home. Its popularity as a material for decorative household objects may have peaked in the Victorian era, but interior designers still love working with it today. 

At Pooky we use brass for our lights all the time: it’s perfect for crafting beautiful bases, while brass shades cast a lovely, buttery light. We’ve created this guide to tell you everything you need to know about this fabulous material, together with some inspiration for using brass lighting in your home… 

brass objectsThe rich colours of brass. Photo: Matt Seymour via creative commons

What exactly is brass?

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, prized both for its versatility and its beautiful colouring, which ranges from bright yellow-gold and silvery-white through to rich reddish-golds. Brass is resistant to corrosion, durable and easy to work with, and these unique properties mean it’s used for a wide variety of different purposes – from mechanical and industrial applications to musical instruments.

The exact colour of brass varies according to the concentration of copper and zinc: brass with a large amount of copper will have more of a rosy gold tint, while a high proportion of zinc will yield a more silvery colour. 

NB – brass is not to be confused with bronze, which is an an alloy of copper and tin and is darker and more reddish in tone. 

 brass tubaThe beauty of brass: instruments like tubas can be stunning sculptural objects. Photo: Samuel Ramos via creative commons

A brief history of brass

Forms of brass have been in use since prehistory, with the first brass being created by heating a mixture of zinc ore and copper, in a process known as cementation. 

The ancient Romans used brass to make armour, vessels and jewellery, and its popularity continued down through the centuries. In mediaeval Europe, brass was used to create everyday household items such as lamps, bowls and jugs, as well as engraved monumental brasses. In the 16th century, brass plates and basins were made from hammered brass and embossed with elaborate designs to create beautiful showpieces for displaying in the home. 

The process of cementation was eventually replaced by a new technique called speltering, which involved the direct alloying of copper and metallic zinc, and allowed much more control over the type of brass produced. 

During the Victorian period, brass enjoyed a huge surge in popularity and it became something of a status symbol. The Victorians used brass to make a whole host of household items, from fireplaces and doorknobs, to locks, light switches and sockets, and from ornate candlesticks to chandeliers, lanterns and lamps. 

brass door knocker
For centuries brass has been used for household objects that combine decoration with functionaliy. Photo: Peter Hermann (creative commons)

Why brass works so well in home decor

Brass remains an extremely popular material for household objects and decorative items today – partly because of its natural elegance and huge aesthetic appeal, but also because its physical qualities make it so versatile. 

One of the great things about brass is its high workability. Brass is malleable, which means it’s easy to fashion into beautiful decorative household items. Its resistance to corrosion and anti-bacterial properties make it the perfect material for areas of the home such as the kitchen and bathroom. And brass is strong and durable, meaning it will stand the test of time. 

brass toggle switch
Brass still makes for beautiful functional objects: Pooky's Florence toggle switch in brass

Using brass lighting in your interior design scheme

Lighting is a brilliant way to get some brass into your home – and its versatility and range of colours means that it can look equally at home in traditional and contemporary looks.

At Pooky we make use brass right across our range of lights – for your inspiration, here are a few of them in situ


Brass wall lights: elegance and grandeur

A solid brass wall light brings a certain elegance and grandeur to a room, as seen here with our Double Chukka wall light in antique brass…

double chukka

Double chukka wall light fitting in antique brass in a bedroom by Beth Dadswell of Imperfect interiors. Photo: Imperfect Interiors


Brass pendant lights: a real style statement 

A brass pendant light fitting is great for making a style statement...Pooky’s Equilibrium rise and fall pendant is a real celebration of all things brass, featuring lovely big brass objects that are both functional and beautiful: wheels, pulleys and two fabulous brass eggs that you can weight to achieve the perfect balance.


Pooky’s Equilibrium pair pendant set with Cupola shades in the Naked Kitchens Glaven kitchen 


Brass floor lamps: smart and sophisticated

A big, bold and beautiful column in the form of a brass floor lamp instantly smartens up a space...

trafalgar beth dadswellTrafalgar floor lamp in antique brass in a bedroom by Beth Dadswell of Imperfect interiors. Photo: Imperfect Interiors


Brass and glass lamps: classic and timeless

Brass and glass always makes for a gorgeous combination - particularly in brass table lamps. The Wisteria – a simple glass cylinder in a chunky brass base – is completely timeless and works absolutely anywhere…

wisteria rechargeableRechargeable Wisteria table lamp in glass finished in antique brass styled by Toby Perryman Payne Photo: @tobyshome


Brass rechargeable table lamps: beautiful and portable

Rechargeable table lamps offer the ultimate in flexibility, and the great thing about the Phileas light is you can introduce an element of brassy classiness absolutely anywhere (even the garden…)

1894 home phileas

Phileas rechargeable lamp in garden area by Sophia of @1894home

Feeling inspired? Browse Pooky's full range of lights and shades to find your perfect style.

See also:

Brass pendant lights – a buyer’s guide
How to clean brass pendant lights