Mid-Century & Modern Church Beautification

Elevating Secular to Sacred 

In the hands of the craftsman, ordinary materials become extraordinary works of art; all for the same end, to glorify God.

Traditional and sacred beauty is not limited to churches built 100 years ago, though mid-century and modern churches do not typically feature artwork, decorative painting, and ornamental plaster, we believe that sacred buildings must reflect and honor the Divine in every age and every style of architecture. Therefore, we intend to bring sacredness to modern in order to successfully convey the stories, mysteries and purpose of faith.

When we approach a beautification project, we do not seek to change the architectural design of the church rather to expand on the style, adding decoration in the same design as the building. Beautification is not difficult nor does the process need to be expensive however, a strategic and carefully developed design is crucial in achieving a cohesive and beautiful completed project. The new design should not look new in the sense that it stands out, the new design must incorporate the surroundings and give a sense of permanence and unity .

The possibilities for beautification in new structures are endless. Blank walls are the canvas on which the mysteries of the faith should be illustrated. Just because something is not done, does not mean that it should not be done and we are determined to bring sacredness back into churches regardless the era in which they were built.

Our Philosophy

When we approach a beautification project, we do not seek to change the architectural design of the church rather to expand on the style, adding decoration in the same design as the building. Owen Jones’s first proposition in the Grammar of Ornament has been our guiding philosophy, “the Decorative Arts arise from, and should properly be attendant upon, Architecture.” Mid-Century and modern architecture is typically very simple and features minimal decoration and artwork.

All the decoration for mid-century and modern designs should follow along with the simple architecture but does not need to be limited to bare plaster walls; decoration completes the architecture. The possibilities for decorative work in newer churches are endless, we are capable of putting those ideas on paper to conceptualize the project and transforming the church from seemingly secular to distinctly sacred.

Our Process

Proper design process is vital to the correct execution of our philosophy. When developing a new design for a church, we sketch out the ideas on paper eventually creating a beautiful illustration of one possibility for the space. Renderings are a way of placing artwork and design ideas into the space and act as a visual conversation of ideas between the designer, the priest and often, the congregation.

We work with priests through the design phase in order to create color schemes, designs and artwork fitting to the architecture of the church. The renderings can be either computer generated or hand painted, as pictured here. The rendering is an excellent way to visualize the end goal. Once the design is approved, the work begins and before you know it, the church has transformed from a barren space to a sacred place.

From Sea to Shining Sea we work in every Diocese

Case Study

Our Lady of Fatima Adoration Chapel

Interior finishes, decorative painting, custom furnishings and commissioned artwork.

This little chapel is mid-century in design and originally possessed very few decorative features. The idea here was to create a contemplative and holy atmosphere for those coming to visit with Our Lord.

The design intent was to bring traditional details found in grand cathedrals and fine-art murals depicting the five sorrowful mysteries to create an atmosphere of comfort and inspiration. The chapel now features delicate details and beautiful artwork that have been carefully designed and organized in the space. There is continuity and harmony in the design allowing the individual to be at peace with the beauty that fills the space.

Commissioned Paintings

1

Custom Altar

2017

Date Completed

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Canning’s craft and artistry take aspects of a design to absolute levels of refinement that bring new works to unexpected levels of delight. Visitors are amazed that such craft is still alive and well in our expedient world.

JOHN I. MEYER, AIA
MEYER & MEYER ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does it matter?

Just because something is not often done does not mean it should not be done. Mid-century and modern architecture are void of symbolism and design stripping faith of the visuals that support core beliefs. We believe that, regardless of ones subjective design opinions, there is beauty to be found in ever era. We must embrace the best of the modern, applying symbolism and intrigue in order to pass the history and beauty of faith on for the generations to come.

How do you properly marry classical design ideas with modern without conflating styles?

Carefully. It is important not to disregard the architecture when beautifying the mid-century and modern. Following Owen Jones's first proposition in his guide The Grammar of Ornament, "The Decorative Arts arise from, and should properly be attendant upon, Architecture."

Why not build a new church?

The answer here may be obvious, funding. However, we have worked on projects with plenty of funding where they considered but decided against building a new church. Communities become attached to their sacred buildings and though the building of a new church may be an alternative, the idea of beautifying what is already in existence is often the gentle balance in navigating the different  personalities in a given location. 

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