When the great glassworks of Murano attract designers
When we talk about Murano, we are of Venice, but also and above all the island of the glassblowers of glassblowers. A tradition that dates back to the 13th century century, when in 1291 furnaces were banned in the City of the Doges to avoid any risk of to avoid any risk of the city’s wooden buildings catching fire. The the master glassmakers of Venice had to move to the small island of Murano
They quickly became recognized for the excellence of their production. The glass production of Murano reached its peak during the Renaissance before sinking into oblivion. It was not until the end of the the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century to see the name of The name of Murano to shine again, before it was exported all over the world after the after the Second World War. The great glassworks of the island owe to the great creators and designers who tried their hand at glassblowing to the glassblowing technique to produce exceptional pieces, which are today highly prized by design collectors.
Long before the 20th century and still century and still today, glassmaking in Murano is above all a family affair family history. At the beginning of the 1930s, large glass houses only began to collaborate with to collaborate with artists/creators. Because, very often, it is the the master glassmakers of the great families who conceive and elaborate the models
Locally, the first great creators were Vittorio Zecchin (artist, 1878-1947) and Napoleone Martinuzzi (sculptor, entrepreneur and designer, director of the Murano Glass Museum, 1892-1977). Then there is Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978), a designer and architect whose work is internationally recognised. The latter is important in the history of Murano glass as he was a long-time companion of Paolo Venini (1895-1959), who in 1921 founded one of the largest glassworks in Murano with Giacomo Cappellin, now Venini. The Venetian artist Vittorio Zecchin was thefirst artistic director of Venini, at the time the Vetri Soffiati Cappellin Venini & C.
The Venini house, more than than other family glass dynasties such as Barovier & Toso (the oldest, since the family has been working with glass since 1295! Seguso, will multiply its collaborations with designers. In this sense, it is is the most daring and modern, understanding quite quickly the importance of an artistic direction. Napoleone Martinuzzi, who took over the artistic direction in 1925, gave this modernist impulse by launching, in addition to the original vases animals, stylized flowers and fruits, as well as a wide range of lighting fixtures
From the inter-war period until the end of the 1950s, Venini brought many creators and designers to La Fornace, the building where the furnaces and, by extension, the whole of the glassmaker’s activity were housed, including : Tyra Lundgren (sculptor and ceramist, 1897-1979), Ken Scott (painter, 1906-1993), Fulvio Bianconi (graphic designer, 1915-1996), Tomaso Buzzi (architect, 1900-1981) and the living legend of Italian design Gio Ponti (1881-1979).
Venini quickly gained an international international reputation. The Venetian firm exhibited all over the world, won numerous prizes, notably at the prestigious Milan Triennale, during which it regularly presented technical innovations (wrought iron, fabrics, granular and (wrought iron, fabrics, granulars and murrines). Venini now attracts the most important and designers who want to tackle the test of fire at La Fornace of fire at La Fornace. In 1951, the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright even came in person to visit the factory, and he returned in 1957.
Among the greatest designers who came to work at Venini were the greatest Italian design figures of the time, such as Franco Albini (1905-1977), Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), Gae Aulenti (1927-2012), Alessandro Mendini (1931-2019), Massimo Vignelli (1931-2014), Tobia Scarpa (Carlo’s son, 1935), and the great Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007). But also foreign designers such as the Finnish designer and sculptor Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985). Venini also collaborated with American figures: the Philadelphia weaver Thomas Stearns, the American designers Charles Tissot Lyn, Richard Marquis (1945), Philip Baldwin (1947), and even Scandinavian designers (Owe Thorssen and Brigitta Karlsson)
Even if Venini has seen the best of Italian of Italian design blown into its glasses, one cannot sum up art glass with the name to the name of Venini in Murano alone. Honour to the oldest glassworks: Barovier & Toso, 9 centuries of existence, descendant of the families of the master glassmakers Barovier and Toso who joined forces in the same company in 1936. Many models are designed and made by Ercole Barovier (1889-1994), the great 20th century figure of the brand.
Another important family in The Seguso family, whose glassmaking activity dates back to 1397 and still exists today. Antonio Seguso (1884-1965) and his sons, including Archimede Seguso (1909-1999), worked throughout their lives to bring back to light the excellence of the excellence of Murano’s glassmaking. In 1932, Antonio Seguso (1884-1965) and his sons, together with Napoleone Barovier (1881-1957) and Luigi Olimpio Ferro, founded the Seguso Vetri d’Arte. Technically very skilled like his father Antonio archimedes Seguso, like his father Antonio, made Seguso Vetri d’Arte famous. The designer Flavio Poli (1900-1984) was for a time the artistic director of the the company for a time and brought creativity and originality to the brand.
Finally, among the great Murano glassworks of the twentieth century that have disappeared or are still or still existing, we should mention the Salviati, A.V.E.M. (Arte Vetraria Muranese), Romano Mazzega, La Murrina, Livio Seguso, Lino Tagliapietra, and Rag. Aureliano Toso. Among the designers who have worked for these these houses include Dino Mertens (1894-1970), who was the artistic director of sergio Asti (1926) at Salviati, Luciano Gaspari (1913-2007) (1913-2007), Salviati’s historic artistic director..
Today, Murano is still frequented by the gotha of the arts, design and and architecture, seduced by a universe like no other for those who know how to who knows how to tame fire, material and colour