In addition to Stanislav Libenský Award competition results, the exhibition at the Imperial Stables is consisted of a display called Glass.Design. Its name already suggests what it is concerned with:it is a presentation of beverage sets, vases, bowls and other glass products.Design has recently become very popular field in the Czech Republic. Young people want to study it, journalists like to report on it, and many of us follow it, look for it and often buy it as well. People are increasingly getting used to the fact that they can freely and originally enliven their private space with objects that not only meet the functionality, but also tell about their lifestyles, tastes and needs.At the Glass.Design exhibition, they can first get an idea of what new is happening in the world of glass design. At one place they will learn about the hottest novelties from European companies, each of which has a name in the world of design: Alessi, Bacarrat, Iitalla, Kosta Boda, Moser, Orrefors, Riedel, Venini, etc.These companies usually operate in countries that for centuries have been representing the most important background for innovations in glass-making industry, which is typical for Europe and from the cultural and economic perspective such a significant field: especially in Finland, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden or the Czech Republic.Glass exhibited at the Imperial Stables was, in most cases, created within the cooperation of glassworks with leading European designers. There are also famous designer names like Alfredo Häberli, Arik Levy, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders and more.Visitors to the exhibition will be surprised by the richness of shapes and colors of presented glass or, conversely, its sober elegance – and in many cases an unorthodox approach to the concept of traditional products. They make sure that glass is not only still alive, but it has, thanks to the foresight of enlightened manufacturers, the inventiveness of designers, skills of craftsmen, education of technologists and last but not least thanks to the growing interest of informed customers, a bright future ahead.
European industrial design exhibition called Glass.Design accompanies at the Imperial Stables the international exhibition of graduate works of this year’s graduates from glass studios at universities – Stanislav Libensky Award. So famous glassworks and their designers can meet the upcoming generation through their products exhibited at one place.
Contemporary European glass has a very wide range of products.Design, utility and decorative glass that is of interest to the Glass.Design exhibition represents only a small segment of glass production, in which prevails more technical and less romantic production, such as plate glass, glass fibers, etc.Rising costs of production incomparable with costs in competitive, less economically developed countries, changes in customers tastes and many other reasons have led even in the recent period to supply constraints and often also to the closure of some European glassworks dealing with decorative and utility glass.Surprisingly rich offer that opened before the eyes of organizers during exhibits selection for Glass.Design exhibition, however, attests to the fact that the traditional glass production in Europe is, despite various difficulties, still alive and kicking.The final version of the exhibition even contains only a relatively small, subjectively conceived choice of what the field of industrial glass design offers these days.
The presented collection of exhibits was created on the basis of personal visits to many of the glassworks represented, their operations, showrooms, shops and stands at international fairs. It presents objects of current offers of individual companies emphasizing the latest products commonly available to informed customers. It follows neither the creation of unique pieces nor small-lot design; it concentrates on the glass being directly produced by the major brands, which are among the world’s best and most famous. It places an emphasis on targeted cooperation of industrial firms with professional designers, whether they are permanent associates or causal workers.There are also famous designer names like Alfredo Häberli, Arik Levy, Jasper Morrison, Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders and more.
The basic concept of the exhibition was an ambition to highlight the connection of good-sounding brands of producers with names of artists.Without a mutual understanding of glass related personalities, whether they are company owners, technologists, glassmakers, managers and businessman – and also, of course, designers – any of what the Glass.Design exhibition presents would not be possible.Particularly beautiful objects for the table and to decorate the interior designed with regard to the modern lifestyle.Objects of different facets:from the serious, purposefully simple to the slightly unconventional, or even entertaining.
A number of exhibited objects were created in areas with higher concentration of glassmaking companies, which, despite all the variability given by the historical conditions, provides insight to the past and present of European glassmaking art.In the Italian Murano, French Lorraine, northern Bohemia, Swedish Glasriket, the south of Finland and other places, the visitors can feel the unique atmosphere of the glassworks and processing plants.The Glass.Design exhibition invites to travel for the magic of contemporary glass.It wants to draw attention to what has been recently creating in Europe, at best, possibly inspire the demanding, stylishly outspoken customers to shopping.Without informed customers with good taste, the European glass has no hope of success in the future.
Baccarat glasswork situated in the town of the same name in northeast France has a rich history running from the times of King Louis XV of France (1764). The historic environment itself, in which the business still operates, is very inspiring.The local crystal glass found its prestigious use at royal court and later in the presidential palace.In the glasswork, luxury products for demanding customers have been creating even today.Baccarat glasswork is renowned not only for the work of local glassmakers, but also for a permanent interaction with progressive world famous artists. They are successful not only in continuing the glorious past, but also developing it in a peculiar way. They are doing so, among other things, through direct response to the products of the past and thus the offered range of products shows a rare unity.
Moser glasswork from Karlovy Vary has always been careful to the quality of products, excellence in material and precision during workmanship. Several generations of glassmaking artists have significantly contributed to the fame of the company in the course of its more than a century and half long history.Many of the objects designed by them, especially beverage sets, have remained in production after more than a hundred years since their first launch.From here they go towards those most exclusive users. Regular supplement of traditional range of products with new products is characteristic for the glasswork.Their authors – including the legend of Czech glass René Roubíček – guarantee, in accordance with the philosophy of the glasswork, that the continuity of the corporate brand is not disrupted, but they do so without exception in contemporary and creative way.
Finnish industrial glass design has won recognition in the world particularly for the simplicity of morphology and maximum effectiveness since 30s of the last century, but especially during 50s – 60s. The whole world still knows names like Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, Oiva Toikka and more.In the south of Finland there are two glassworks working, which under the brand Iitalla carry on the tradition of Finnish design to the 21st century.These are businesses in Iitalla and Nuutajärvi, both of which have their own unique atmosphere and production specifics.The former is a larger glasswork focused on smooth drinking glass and accessories, the latter has a small-lot manufacture for decorative objects.The Iitally’s range of products provides not only some design novelties, but also iconic works that belong to the golden fund of world glass design.
The heart of each of the glassworks in Glasriket area (Kingdom of Crystal) beats at a different pace, but together they make up an unusually rich image of the art of Swedish glassmakers.The dignity and elegance of products coming from the largest one – in Orrefors – is reflected not only in variety of great bowls and vases and other products of various shapes, but also in the beverage sets.Of these, for example, the set Divine, the glasswork’s contribution to the wedding of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria in 2010, received considerable publicity.
Who would have thought that Scandinavian design is always moderate and simple in shapes, the current offer of the Kosta Boda brand convince them otherwise.There is no shortage of decorative objects full of colors and shapes, which often do not lack funny ideas.The offered objects ranging from beverage sets, bowls, vases, candlesticks…to the limited editions of glass sculptural works.The Kosta Boda brand relies on individual creative freedom of artists. Under the brand name Kosta Boda, products of two famous glassworks have been currently distributed:in Kosta (founded in 1742) and Ĺfors.
Italian glasswork Venini celebrates ninety years since its founding this year.But it does so not only by reminiscing, just look in its current catalog, in which there are hundreds of designs not only from the past, but also hot novelties.Venini production largely corresponds with what we imagine as the Venetian or Murano glass.Each product actually immediately attracts attention with vivid colors, richness of shapes and unorthodox use of creative fantasy combined with craft mastery during hot glass processing in the glasswork.
The North Bohemian Ajeto company is sought after by glassmaking artists from around the world.They have found some glassmaking masters there, ready to realize their most demanding artistic visions at the glasswork.This is certainly a significant part of Ajeto company activities, but by far not the only one.They also organize various events aimed at the promotion of glassmaking craft.Based on it, there is also a fresh product range, created in collaboration with students of glass studio at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.Let us hope that this unorthodox step of the Ajeto company owners will gain, in addition to a positive response from professionals, also a good feedback from customers, and thus commercial success.
Moravské sklárny Květná (Moravian Glassworks Květná)
Cooperation with foreign artists has been in the previous development of Czech glass design very rare.Therefore, glasswork in Květná has positively impressed in recent years by extending its existing offer of products designed by several prominent designers or design studios.In a remarkable collection there were also beverage sets, both by respected local artists and by students and graduates of Design from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague.The result is a fresh collection of drinking glass having the current spirit, but not lacking the respect for the past.
The offer of group of companies WWRD consists of luxury, utility and decorative objects under traditional, internationally recognized brands, such as Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Waterford and more.In the past years, a best-known Irish clothing designer John Rocha designed several series of glass products for Waterford.His collection Black Cut includes not only cups, glasses and decanters exhibited at the Glass.Design display, but also vases, bowls, jars and candlesticks.He impressively combines crystal and black glass using cut-through technique and creates unusual almost piquant forms.It is another example of cooperation of some glassworks with artists in other fields.This can bring not only some interesting creative results, but it also represents a powerful marketing tool.
Vicenza belongs to beverage sets by Pelcl Studio, which have recently enlivened an offer of automatic glass by Crystalex company from Nový Bor with a new quality.Comments to several design competitions awards have showed that the well-known glassmaking producer in collaboration with a major design studio managed to achieve a significantly stylish expression by almost technicist approach.But Crystalex catalog also includes beverage sets richly decorated using different technologies, so it may satisfy customers with both a progressive and more traditional taste.
Slovak glasswork RONA from Lednické Rovne offers various shapes of drinking glass.Although automatic machine production prevails, it has been constantly supplemented with a flexible and more exclusive range of hand-made products.Both hand-made and automatically produced wineglasses, decanters and accessories show not only a sober elegance with a shape tension, but often also wittily playful details that not only attract or even entertain, but do not lack the functionality as well.
Villeroy & Boch
Villeroy & Boch company, founded in 1748 and located on the German border with France and Luxembourg, invites through its products to stylishly set tables, equipped kitchens and bathrooms.Tradition, continuity and authenticity are basic concepts this brand is based on during processing, presentation and sale. The objects produced by Villeroy & Boch company enable mainly more traditional thinking customers to equip their private and public interiors according to their own wishes and personal taste.
German Jena is famous for glass of specific physical and chemical properties, which is also suitable for production of household glassware. So-called boiling glassware has the highest value in the design work of Wilhelm Wagenfeld.Jenaer Glas company has still produced Wagenfeld’s artistically timeless tea set and egg cookers from the early 30s.They are followed by other products for preparing, storing, serving and dining, which, due to their efficiency and shape simplicity, easily become part of everyday life.
The Italian brand Alessi is famous for its diverse design products for dining.In their development, the emphasis is placed on the functionality, but due to their bold expression and characteristic playfulness almost exuberance, these products are beyond the standard offer.A call for cooperation in the creation of products for Alessi brand has been regularly accepted by many renowned names of current design.They are involved not only in shaping of products made of plastic, steel, general and precious metals, porcelain, ceramics, wood, etc., but also made of glass.Many products from the current extensive Alessi catalog are the world design bestsellers.
Modern glasswork in Světlá nad Sázavou was established due to the state investment in a time of great development of the Czechoslovak glassmaking industry at the turn of the 60s and 70s of the last century.Its task was to produce serial decorative and utility products of 24% lead crystal glass refined with cutting in industrial environments. Today, already private glasswork successfully continues this tradition with new designs of drinking and decorative glass created using high-tech machine production. When doing so, they exclusively use a special glass called Crystalite according to which the company also got its present name.
Text:Milan Hlaveš, Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague