The history of man-made glass dates all the way back to about 3500BC, with earliest finds of glass found in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Glass-blowing was a major breakthrough in glassmaking around the 1st century BC and has thoroughly impacted the way glass objects have been made, especially in the field of art and design. Glass, as a medium, has allowed for numerable techniques that have also furthered pioneering works by architects. One need only look at structures such as I.M. Pei’s Pyramide at the Louvre to realize the possibilities, depths, and advancements that glass has allowed.
Contemporary glassmakers, including the ones featured here, find themselves making works that fall into both art and design. Also known as “glass art” or “studio glass”, these works highlight the range of craftsmanship through the fascinating art of glass-blowing. In other works, they highlight how technology has allowed the medium to harness its durability through mass production. It is also interesting to note how glass continues to engage with new technologies such as 3D printing, proving its versatility through the years.
These contemporary artisans have helped in the comeback of glass. With the timeless medium, they reinvent ways that we look at glass through their different modes of production:
Lilianna Manahan graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines, later studying at Central Saint Martins in London and returning home to set up an atelier under her own name. She’s been cited as a “whimsical designer”, tying into her effervescent personality - and her works reflect just that.
While Manahan explores materials that range from ceramics to metals, resins, and glass, it is her collaboration with glassblowers from the Czech Republic that is most encapsulating. Working together with Jiří Pačinek, one of the best contemporary Czech glassmakers who specializes in glass-blowing, to create works that work that are both sculptural and functional. Using several pre-existing molds, these artisans worked together to create singular works. Several glass sculpting techniques were used to construct these eccentric works that spark curiosity and awe.
With a Masters in Industrial Design from Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan, Gabriel Lichauco set up design firm Openstudio in 2005 and has made a name for himself in the design world ever since. Based in Manila, Philippines, this studio focuses strongly on space design, installation and everyday objects, and looks to art, architecture, interiors, industrial design and manufacturing for inspiration.
Lichauco’s ‘Pinch the Bublinka’ collection is comprised of works that were corn from an ingenious experiment. A series of objects and vases, 2 glass pieces are combined in the construction of these works - the colored glass is made using an antique metal mold, and the ‘bubble’ from traditional hand blown glass. Joined by force, precision, and heat, these works demand the attention of its viewers upon encounter with their sheer artisanship.
Design duo Bodin and Dilaria make up Yellowdot Design, founded in Hong Kong in 2017. Their backgrounds are wildly different - Bodin is an ex-NASA engineer from Hong Kong, and Dilaria has an artistic background and is from Istanbul. Together they create works that edge contrasting characteristics of East and West, serious and fun.
Their stunning ‘Bubble Light Dome’ design is mouth-blown by glassmakers and finished with a colorful iridescent coat. With the soft glow of the attached lamp, it visually elevates whatever it contains whilst keeping them protected. The duo was inspired by objects forgotten and tucked away and sought to find a solution. With the ‘Bubble Light Dome’, objects could now be displayed while exuding a magical aura.
Chinese designer Cai Yisha holds years of product design studies from both China and France. She graduated from École National Supérieure d’Art de Limoges in France and is now based in Dresden, Germany. With skills impressively amassed in modeling and rendering, her recent projects explore the use of digital data, digital art, and motion design.
Cai’s work ‘DUO TORNADO Vase’ forces us to consider the relationship between design and the digital. By harvesting ‘big data’ from weather patterns, she processed the information via mathematical algorithms to create a cylindrical clay tornado visually generated by codes. This was then printed in porcelain with a 3D ceramics printed, with the accompanying glass shaped by the ‘imaginary’ void of its profile. This blown glass was also created in a unique 3D-printed ceramic mold.
The recipient of two Katha awards and Maison&Objet Rising Asian Talent award, Stanley Ruiz is no newcomer to the design scene. Principal of the Studio Ruiz Design Consultancy, the works they create specialize furniture, lighting, and home furnishings. Raised in Manila and having lived in Bali and New York, Ruiz’s works are a reflection of influences from the diversity of his experiences.
Ruiz’s works are known for their combination of natural and industrial designs. Minimalist and sophisticated, his works are - above all else - sustainable. He’s previously stated that sustainability “should be part and parcel of the design process”, and not an afterthought. His ‘Emblem’ and ‘Growth’ series exude this sustainability, with works from this series made from blown glass and oak wood.
KORAI cites itself as a brand that aims at conveying the forms and textures of crafts. They express contrasting harmonies such as “inside and outside”, or “nature and home”, that prevails in Japanese culture. Produced by HULS, an entity that supports the export of Japanese crafts, KORAI is inspired by “engawa”, or veranda. It bases its ethos off the effects of verandas in Japanese-style houses as they seek to bring the coolness of nature into everyone's homes with their works, especially to those who reside in restless cities.
Their captivating ‘Hydrangea - Water Vessel’ piece is their representation of ‘senseware’. Inspired by nature, KORAI creates works that trigger human sensitivity by introducing ways for viewers to experience wind, water, and light, through their creations. Adding a sense of ‘organic activity’ to any space works such as ‘Hydrangea - Water Vessel’ generate life wherever it is placed.
Kazunaga Sakashita of critiba design+direction ingeniously creates a vase that joins a plant to its source of life, while creating illusionary effects. In ‘Shallows’, the surface tension of water is manipulated by the crystal vase to showcase its textual element.
Sakashita was inspired by puddles that form on the road after it has rained. Applying this to his work, the top of the vase dips slightly, allowing space to be filled by liquid, creating the illusion of an overflowing vessel. Made by shaving off a piece of crystal from its form, it also contains a central funnel-like hole where the plant sits, allowing the plant to act as a visual mechanism in itself.
Jo-chieh Huang is passionate about her explorations into objects and space. Taking her experiences into account, she fuses her observations and stories into her designs, all with a poetic touch. A graduate from the Crafts and Design Department of National Taiwan University of Art at 2015, Huang worked at continued to work in design and opened her own design studio shortly after.
‘HAI’ is a whimsical work that was inspired by the Pacific waves off the coast of Taiwan. Comprised of a vase, bowl, and tray made with Bohemian glass, they were made to act as a single entity that resembles Taiwan. Their soft nuances were made to act as a mini-scene that relaxes Huang, reminding her of home.
Now that you're here, why not check out more glass artworks on The Artling?
Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.
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