Heart of Glass
Monday, May 21st, 2012
By Jen Hazen
As part of ICFF extravaganza WANTED Design, Julie Taraska and Kimberly Oliver’s Product Placement design lecture series hosted “Heart of Glass,” a discussion that explored the innovative uses of glass by 4 accomplished product designers—Harry Allen, Bec Brittain, Omer Arbel and Johan Liden of Aruliden.
Allen, who is well-known for his cast resin pig banks, shared the inspiration behind his series of voluptuous vases—a collaboration between Turkish housewares company Gaia & Gino and Swarovski elements. The vases were auctioned last year to benefit NYC-based Housing Works, which supports people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Customized by a list of fashion and design celebrities (Kenneth Jay Lane, Doo.Ri, and Ashley & Mary Kate Olsen for Elizabeth and James), each borosilicate glass vase acts as a blank canvas that creates a space where object and consumer interact. Lane’s vase is subdued and chic—encrusted in muted bronze Swarovski crystals like a disco ball—while the Olsen’s vase is styled in a beaded-collar blazer and tiered tulle skirt. And Allen’s “Black Swan” vase impresses with its intricate Swarovksi fishnet bodice and skirt of black feathers. “I am always thinking, ‘How do you make things beautiful?’” Allen says. “And fashion is a direct line to beauty.”
Brooklyn-based lighting designer and artist Bec Brittain spoke about the transformative qualities of glass and her appreciation for organic, faceted shapes such as crystals. “My work is about things that reside in multiple categories,” Brittain explains. “And those categories can sometimes seem contradictory.” An example of this is Brittain’s light fixture, Maxhedron—a gold-plated steel frame connected at the vertices, with triangular bits of 1-way mirror. When the halogen lamp is turned on, the opaque, rigid frame comes to life—a prismatic, glowing constellation of light refracted by shards of mirror.
Vancouver-based designer and Bocci Creative Director Omer Arbel discussed the use of hand-blown glass in his 38 Series Planter Chandelier design. Several globes of glass, woven together with copper tubing, act as shallow “vases” for plants, as well as lighting elements. The result is an organic tangled “chandelier” of foliage, light, and glass.
Principal of Aruliden, Johan Liden, talked about his award-winning hand-blown glass fishbowl produced by Gaia & Gino—a classic example of good problem solving via the integration of components in an everyday item. The plastic landscape structures so commonly placed into fishbowls become one with the bowl’s floor, thereby elevating an ugly old stand-by to a piece of sculptural art.