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Object of Desire: Architect-Designed Bronze Wind Bells from Cosanti

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Object of Desire: Architect-Designed Bronze Wind Bells from Cosanti

September 13, 2019

I recently wrote about LA-based architect Takashi Yanai’s brilliantly compact and appealingly spartan bungalow, featured in the new book Creative Spaces. He’s a master at subtracting, at whittling down a home to its essentials—both in terms of design and possessions—so that what’s left feels incredibly meaningful.

To wit, one of the only objects in his family’s outdoor space is a metal bell hanging from the eave of the roof. The piece looks sacred, almost like an antiquity. And thanks to some knowledgeable readers (thank you, comments section), I now know its origins.

The bronze wind bell in Yanai’s backyard. Photography by Ye Rin Mok, from Creative Spaces.
Above: The bronze wind bell in Yanai’s backyard. Photography by Ye Rin Mok, from Creative Spaces.

The bronze wind bells are made from molds by Paolo Soleri, an Italian architect known for coining the term “arcology” (an amalgamation of the words architecture and ecology), an environmentally minded design philosophy that prioritizes low-impact design. He created a compound of futuristic, dome-shaped concrete buildings in Paradise Valley, Arizona, in the mid-’50s, calling his retreat “Cosanti,” and it was there that he first made his bells. (Soleri died in 2013; for a nuanced look at his complicated legacy, go here.)

I found original bronze Soleri bells, made in the ’60s and ’70s, going for anywhere from $400 to upwards of $4,000 on 1stdibs, depending on the size, but, happily, new bells can be purchased at much more affordable prices. Soleri’s original foundries still produce the bells, which are sold at Cosanti, now a designated Arizona historic site and destination for architecture buffs, and through cosanti.com.

Here are a few I’m admiring.

Above: The #112 Cosanti Bronze Wind Chime Bell measures 22-inches long and features an upside-down tulip-shaped bell. Like all of the bronze bells, it’s available in two finishes: patina (left) and burnished ($78 and $109, respectively).
Above: Cosanti also sells ceramic versions, but I like the bronze versions with a verdigris patina best, achieved by soaking the bells in a tub of muriatic acid and water. Pictured is #128 ($99) and #115 ($185).

For more objects of our desire, see:

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