Hearth and Home
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Aaron Dougherty
Designer Claire Crowe’s creative spark brightens up any fireplace
Functional design often is born of necessity. The bonus is when beauty is added to the mix. Such is the case with Claire Crowe’s hand-forged fireplace screens. “I had a home built and realized I had two bare fireplaces,” says the Dallas-based designer. “And I didn’t like anything I saw on the market. So I dug in, did my research and came up with my own design.”
While Crowe is an academic by training, she admits she always wanted to work with her hands. Her family was in the floral business, so she saw beautiful arrangements created on a regular basis. And growing up in Arkansas, she and her mother would unearth quartz and other minerals from the foothills around Hot Springs.
Crowe attended college in Dallas, then raised a family there, including a son who attended TCU in Fort Worth. She launched the Claire Crowe Collection in 2010, featuring the hand-forged metal screens, along with her home accessories such as metal wall art, mirrors, lamps showcasing minerals and geodes, plus other stone accessories. Rich in detail, her work begins with an organic simplicity. “Everything is inspired by nature,” says Crowe, who births each design by sketching it with pencil on paper.
The concept is tweaked and refined before it’s skillfully brought to life in brass and iron, be it Crowe’s popular butterfly motif, a modern laser-cut design or a simple, but sophisticated frame-style screen. From there, the artistic process includes a variety of hand-applied finishes and flourishes. Crowe is all about options and customization, too. Clients can choose from lacquered or unlacquered brass in gold, silver, tobacco or black finishes. Adornments such as leaves, flowers and stems are individually formed, making each piece unique.
“I’ve worked with designers and clients on customized pieces such as a ranch brand on a screen or one that features tempered glass,” she says.
Some of the creative details, including the colorful ceramic balls that embellish the star points on her Celeste screen, are a result of collaborations with other artisans, which Crowe welcomes.
Her creativity also is fueled by the vibe of the Dallas Design District, where she set up her showroom and design studio about six years ago. The space features walls of glass that allow for lots of natural light and room enough to display samples of her work as well as fireplace vignettes featuring screens. The stylized room settings are made more realistic thanks to marble mantels by Marmoso, whose custom designs feature European marble hand-carved in India (learn more on the Claire Crowe website). Crowe works closely with many interior designers, but the public also is welcome at her Design District studio. In Fort Worth, you’ll find Crowe’s screens and some of her accessories at House Essential in The Shops at Clearfork. Shop owner and designer Kim Milam has been a fan of Crowe since seeing her work at market back when she was represented by Culp Associates, a to-the-trade showroom. “I love everything she does,” says Milam. “Her designs are earthy but sophisticated.”