Glass is an ancient medium with roots dating back over five thousand years. Long loved for its amorphousness and varying transparent qualities, glass has been a cornerstone of design used in architecture, objects, and on its own throughout human history. Design Miami/2012 showcases some of the most ingenious and aesthetically dazzling designers working in the medium today.
Though one will find glass in different contexts throughout the fair, a few galleries in particular are showing designers that are testing the limits of what glass can do. The work by these designers illustrates the range of expression and form that glass contains.
The work of Ritsue Mishima at Pierre Marie Giraud is pristine and completely free of color – something uncommon in the Venetian glass she uses. The pieces allow the viewer to see shape and texture uninhibited by surface, revealing the transparent tranquility of glass and the excellence of Mishima’s skills.
Sylvain Willenz is showing a number of glass works at Victor Hunt that presents a range of experimental possibilities. Solid side tables from his SHIFT series portray the capacity of glass to exhibit different opacities and colors – from nearly see-through to opaque, to a beeswax yellow. Each table was made from a single piece of glass and in a single stroke of manufacturing, creating the unusual racket-tops and oblong bottoms in a way that is unprecedented for the medium.
The collection of office objects by Willenz, part of his BLOCK series, were made using a casting technique that allows imperfections to remain on the surface of the pieces.
Pieke Bergmans, with a solo exhibition at Venice Projects titled Metamorphosis, is a Netherlands-born designer renowned for mouth-blown crystal lamps and lighting. The elegant and dreamlike lights on display at Venice Projects are modeled after Venetian lanterns and bend and twist in ways unimaginable.
The glass used for these lanterns protrude in a surreal fashion that displays the fluidity of glass and the possibility of capturing watery forms in solid states. The masterfully crafted lanterns convey both the versatility of glass and Bergmans’ superior talent.
Glass is not only impressive for its solid forms. The potential for the medium extends to ephemerality, as can be seen with the glass globes by Willenz from the SPOT line of lights.
The glasswork here at Design Miami/ 2012 represents some of the finest innovations, both aesthetic and manufacturing, that have been made in the medium. The works here exemplify a new phase in a long tradition which blend new technological innovation with a time-honored practice.