Sunday, 24 June 2012

Hearts of Glass

For any lover of design and art manifestations, it seems that glassware is everywhere these days in the most beautiful forms. The shapes and colours of glass have always seduced people for centuries because, when produced through good crafting processes, glassware can lead to impressive pieces of design and art.


A few years ago, I was offered a couple of hearts of coloured glass sculpted by a Canadian artist as a present for a very special personal occasion. These two stunning pieces lie on a window sill in my home and reflect light in an astounding manner. They fill moments of my days with contemplation and appreciation of art in a pure, transparent way. I cherish them not only for what they symbolise but for the striking materials, hues and shapes used by the artist.

My passion for glassware started a few years before the day when I received my hearts of glass. More precisely, on the day when I visited an Iittala shop in Helsinki and admired the craft of glass moulded to the designs of Alvar Aalto. I could not resist buying an elegant ash tray that I have on display to this day even though I don’t smoke.


In the years that followed my brief encounter with this art form, I developed my personal passion for glassware as an alliance of beauty to form. I indulged in it every time there were special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, or weddings. In London, I found that beauty translated into the work of many designers or in the shops of the Design Museum or the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. In Paris, it seems to be ubiquitous in most kitchen shops, where good design is allied to form and function. And in New York, the shop of the Museum of Art and Design sells impressive objects made of glass. The National Glass Museum in the Netherlands is also a place that offers not only the option to buy exquisite pieces of glassware but, through its hot glass studio, the possibility to learn more about this craft.

I am still not sure if my attraction to this art form has to do with the hard process in which glassware is made. I admit that, on a visit to Venice a couple of years ago, I became extremely disappointed with the manifestations of Murano glass, even though this seems to be appreciated by most people not only for its shapes but for the hard work entailed in creating them. My travelling companion then cleverly crafted the expression ‘Murano Relativism’ and I have appropriated it since then to describe this unconscious collective appreciation of gauche glassware (or any other outputs of creative trade) that lives through the ostentatious display of shape and colour.


Although complex glass or crystal shapes can be nice, I appreciate the simplicity of colour and design exhibited in objects of daily life. They tell stories that live with me, whether to dignify a special occasion or because of the beauty that they inspired that keeps me appreciating ethereal moments in daily life. I suppose, after all, that these are the functions of my hearts of glass: beautiful in their form and colours, but mostly in their delicate unbroken essence.

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