Hand blown glass has enjoyed something of a renaissance and is now well and truly in the interior design spotlight due to a winning mixture of traditional craftsmanship, radical new ideas, and some appealing collaborations. This has elevated an age-old technique into a serious art form that is producing some stunning and inspiring work.
The now iconic hanging ball light concept from Bocci, featuring colourful, distorted glass spheres with more spheres inside holding the light source, has been produced in many variations in the last few years and been on display in both the V&A and Mallet’s Ely House. Decorative hand-blown glass lights are now sought after as collectible pieces as well as functional lighting fixtures and look stunning in any setting, from contemporary minimalist to retro chic.
This trend started when designers such as Simon Moore collaborated with Tom Dixon and others at the Murano studios, and Arik Levy worked with Lasvit in the Czech Republic on minimalist lighting installations. Customers are now willing to pay many hundreds through to many hundreds of thousands of pounds for hand-blown works of art. Chandelier makers specialise in producing and making these beautiful items at rather more accessible pricing in order to bring stunning works of art into any home.
Why is hand-blown glass so appealing?
Glassblowing is both a science and an art that takes decades of training and dedication to perfect. The process itself is beautiful to watch. Each piece of glass is unique and requires a lot of energy to produce; a complex one-off design can take many months to complete but the result is a statement piece that makes a stunning impact.
There is an element of romance in mouth-blown pieces that can’t be replicated by machine blown or cast glass. The technique produces organic shapes that contain natural imperfections and possess an unpredictable quality. Unique textures and patterns can be produced that disperse light in a special way, giving these lights an attractive glow.
Fixtures made in this way can be stunning in their simplicity or dramatic and complex, taking a conventional technique and using it to inspire amazing designs and create new ideas. They capture the skill, passion and joy of glassblowing and celebrate and promote this traditional handcraft.
SOME EXAMPLES OF LARGE-SCALE HAND BLOWN GLASS INSTALLATIONS
Design Haus Liberty created and installed a handmade chandelier called ‘The Pour’ in the loft of an American art collector. It is composed of many crystal droplets suspended at different heights from brass caps and rods. It took over a year to complete and looks like a stunning wall of raindrops which plays with the light to create water-like shadows beneath.
Jeff Zimmerman, a renowned glass blower and lighting installation designer from New York, has his work displayed in many galleries. He is known for his snake-themed, swirling clusters and large cloud-like installations featuring large glass spheres. Zimmerman’s soda glass installation called ‘Unique Snow Crystal’ changed hands for a quarter of a million dollars.