09 September 2020

Glass design

During this period of suspended, fragile time, in which our contact with objects and people is cautious while our need to share spaces, products and experiences is becoming increasingly urgent, design has the power to come up with simple but intelligent, creative but effective solutions in a bid to retrieve that everyday quality that we’ve missed. It achieves this particularly through one of the most ancestral materials known to man: glass, which with its protective abilities and its evocative soul, manages to relativise the concepts of proximity and distance. Social distancing, which we still need to observe, is made easier with see-through surfaces that are most refractory to the virus (and therefore more hygienic), high-performance (in terms of heat resistance, ageing and aesthetic “decay”), waterproof, easy to clean, ecological and “circular” (glass is almost infinitely recyclable). However, the light-permeable transparencies, the fluidity and the “crystallised” dynamism, the complex processes and colourings of glass are not just harnessed for screens, partition systems, doors, walls, room dividers and shielding solutions, but are at the service of furnishing tout court. A great many companies and designers have made glass their preferred medium, giving endless shape to the (magical) beauty of the alchemy between sand, fire and air every day.

Glas Italia and Piero Lissoni have just unveiled Sherazade Spin, a vertical pivoting glass panel that lends itself to a great variety of design and decorative solutions. The stop-free door always has a bidirectional opening and is available with a central or off-centre pivot. Two or more panels can be put together to configure partitions that open fully or partially, and the perfect alignment of the panels is guaranteed by a magnetic system.

Sherazade Spin, design Piero LIssoni, Glas Italia

Inspired by the extensive, light mobile surfaces of traditional Japanese houses, Lualdi has come up with Shoin, a system of one or two-track glass sliding doors and fixed panels, designed to create walls. The panels are housed within a slender aluminium frame, flush with the external side of the composition. Shoin helps create real spaces, luminous glass boxes that lightly mark out spaces within spaces.

Shoin, Lualdi

With Velaria, Rimadesio is interpreting the sliding door with the onus on geometric rigour and poetry. Distinguished by their bronze net glass, which bestows a veiled transparency, these sliding doors can be used as movable walls thanks to the fact that the panels are made to measure using patented technical solutions that guarantee the greatest possible freedom of design.

Velaria, Rimadesio

For Lago the use of glass is a constant. It is also a challenge that demands a great deal of research. The brand has just developed a digital application capable of transferring images onto glass, which has allowed it to reinterpret natural materials such as marble on glass surfaces for the very first time. Thus, the tops and bases of the 36e8 Marble XGlass Kitchen marry the qualities of glass – resistance to acidic substances, hygienic and easily cleaned – with the appeal of the material itself.

36e8 Marble XGlass, Lago

Glass has always been Vittorio Livi’s great passion. After a number of different business ventures, in 1973 Livi set up FIAM, the first company to manufacture furnishing components in curved glass. Echo, the brand’s latest project, chronologically-speaking, was designed by Marcel Wanders Studio, and is a vitrine/container born of the desire to make a surface that appeared to extend out physically towards the viewer, pulling him or her in and surprising them. The designer has explored new techniques for shaping glass, contriving a glass surface composed of three-dimensional geometric forms, triangles, squares and rectangles. Molten glass, the star of the project, is light-reflecting, filling the home with warmth and generating a magical, evocative atmosphere.

Echo, FIAM

Tonelli design started up in the ‘80s as the upshot of study into and experimentation with glass and its approach to its products these days is a blend of tradition and innovation. Folio by Debonademeo Studio is an unusual bookcase in which each of the shelves sits at a different angle. The base is made from a single piece of solid Ceppo di Grè stone with an irregular sanded finish which contrasts beautifully with the purity and perfection of the glass.

Folio, Tonelli Design

Just the name of the brand is enough to know that its DNA is written in its glass, a strategic choice for Glass Design. More than 200 Tuscan craftsmen and around 15 glassmakers from Murano are part of the company’s production chain. Karim Rashid has designed Lap Plus for the company, a basin that creates an optical illusion: a minimal yet functional solution, which also makes a powerful visual impact thanks to the concentric circles that extend out into ellipses, following the oval line of the product.

Lap Plus, Glass Design
Photo by Giacomo Masoni - Less

After notching up 7 centuries of glass working, Barovier&Toso can be regarded as synonymous with the Murano tradition. The link to the past resides in a new approach to the ancient processing techniques, which have been re-read and harnessed to make for a contemporary look. One example of this is the new Padma (which means “lotus” in Sanskrit) collection of table and pendant lamps. A symbol of elegance, purity and grace, the lotus is the only flower that contains its own fruit, with the partly-developed seeds, when it blooms, conceptually representing the unity between cause and effect, between the one and the whole. Reinterpreting this unusual characteristic, Padma was conceived to express a synthesis between the parts, a synergy between contrasts. The lamp is made from mouth-blown Venetian crystal and, like the flower that inspired it, consists of three parts: a shaded external diffuser, made using the incalmo blowing technique, enclosing a ribbed “fruit”, and a final element that serves to round off the composition with Venetian echoes.

Padma, Barovier&Toso

For almost a century, generation after generation, craftsmanship has driven Venini, bringing together Murano’s manufacturing tradition and contemporary design, expressed through its own collections. Precisely in this spirit, the brand is progressing its partnership with Peter Marino and has unveiled three new lamp models: Rotondo, Cilindro and Parallelo. The geometric lights, substantial sculptural volumes in their own right, are produced using the complicated Sommerso (submerged) technique, creating a number of different transparent layers encompassing black or tea-coloured bands. When a luminous object is inserted, the intersecting bands across the transparent glass create a fascinating play of light and shade, solids and voids.

Rotondo, Cilindro, Parallelo, Venini
Photo by Accent/barbiero srl

Teckell is a company born of the exploration of unsuspected emotional territories, those of our childhood, which it turns into design objects. Who hasn’t played table football in a provincial bar or church hall? Designed by Adriano Design, Cristallino is owed to cutting-edge technology and the skilled hands of Italian craftsmen who have perfected every single details of this new, luxurious edition of such a popular game.

Cristallino Outdoor, Teckell
Photo by Elita Studio

Glass: a clear, simple, radical material that is not only a symbol of tradition, but also gives shape to new demands, landscapes and visionary approach. A material at the service of designers. There are those who explore its more poetic possibilities and those who explore its more functional side, achieving ever-different modern, contemporary and sometimes even futuristic results, in which the transparency of the pieces and their perceptual lightness create pure magic.

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