Murano glass boasts a great reputation, everyone at least once in their lives has heard of it or, even, witnessed its manufacture or, even more, owned some small object, often a souvenir from the magical Venetian island in which it is produced. This glass has a centuries-old history; in fact, it was born in 1291 when the glassworks of Venice were transferred to Murano itself. Even today, centuries later, Murano glassmakers work preserving and handing down traditional craft techniques. Its beauty and preciousness, conquers over the years designers and artists, who increasingly choose it as the protagonist of their works.
Murano glass met innovation in the last century, when numerous companies began to collaborate with artists and designers. First among them was the young Cappellin&Venini glassworks, which in 1921 entrusted the position of artistic director to Murano artist Vittorio Zecchin, so as to create a union between art, design and the technique of glassmakers. Thereafter, many companies followed suit, helping to spread this locally rooted culture on a large scale, encroaching on the artistic world. Even the famous designer Ettore Sottsass chose Murano glass for some of his pieces. In the 1970s, in fact, Sottsass began working with Luciano Vistosi, an artist and head of one of the island’s most famous furnaces, designing those projects that then passed into the hands of glassmakers for fabrication. Sottsass’s intervention and Vistosi’s relationship with some of the most famous designers of the time, such as Aulenti, Zanuso, Magistretti, Meronen Beckmann and Mangiarotti, took Murano glass in a more creative and decorative direction, allowing the material to move out of the domestic dimension alone and thus land in exhibition spaces.
Even today, there are many designers who choose Murano glass as their favorite material for their creations. One example is the artist Lorenzo Vitturi, who often sews Murano glass inserts inside his tapestries, along with other recovered objects belonging to different cultures.
There is a designer, on the other hand, who has chosen this material as the undisputed protagonist of her works. She is Alice Crepaldi (1997), who with her project “Walking Jewel” explores the use of this precious material, working closely with master glassmakers. Her work, which is based on the theme of movement, consists of “‘walking’ jewelry in which the frame is expressed by these soft and sinuous shapes inspired by the movements of the human body,” Alice says. The motivations that led this young designer to choose Murano glass specifically are undoubtedly poetic and related to uniqueness. In fact, Alice Crepaldi tells how the working process she chose consists of blowing the glassy mass inside a metal cage, which subsequently crystallizes and becomes a work of art. This process can never produce the same result twice, so the piece will always be unique and inimitable. “I find this concept extremely fascinating and try to respect it at every stage of my work. The metal cages are composed of all these rods that are curved by hand in all directions…it’s virtually impossible to do it by machine and equally impossible for me to repeat the same object in the same way.” – she says – “Movement and uniqueness are married in the use of two ancient and traditional materials like glass and metal that can still be used in an extremely poetic and contemporary way. The intention is to continue experimenting and integrating the ancient techniques of Murano glassmaking into ever new variations and new forms that can enhance its beauty and preserve it over time.“
Listen to: Spigola Ep. 14 – Annalisa Rosso