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What happens in Murano stays in Murano. The funny aphorism about the city of Las Vegas also seemed to apply to the secrets that Murano jealously protected since the end of the 11th century, when the government of “The Serenissima Republic of Venice” ordered that the glass furnaces and the glass craftsmen themselves be transferred from the city center to that tiny island in the middle of the Venetian lagoon.

Intended to protect the center of Venice from a possible fire caused by the glass furnaces, the law also protected the arcane secrets of the art of glassblowing, which involves handling molten sand ore at temperatures between 1,000 and 1,500 degrees Celsius, at which elements such as cobalt and gold leaf are added to achieve vivid colors and a brilliant finish.

The name “Murano glass” covers several styles and techniques, including millefiori, with its characteristic psychedelic floral pattern, and filigree, a technique developed in the 16th century that interweaves glass threads of various colors to create pieces with a delicate striped pattern.

More than seven centuries later, genuine Murano glass pieces are still very rare, at least nominally. Just as the only sparkling wine that can be formally considered champagne is the one that comes from the homonymous region of France, a piece of Murano glass can only be called that when it was made on that Venetian islet.

The name “Murano glass” covers several styles and techniques, including millefiori, with its characteristic psychedelic floral pattern, and filigree, a technique developed in the 16th century that interweaves glass threads of various colors to create pieces with a delicate striped pattern.

“Murano became kind of an adjective, because it’s used very broadly to refer to just about anything made of glass that’s very colorful,” says Sara Blumberg, a Venetian glass art dealer in New York City. “Maybe now it is changing, but in general people end up associating that word with the glass ashtrays and clowns that you see in the souvenir stalls of the Venice train station.”

In contrast, for designers like Brett Heyman, founder of the Edie Parker accessories line, part of the appeal of Murano glassware is precisely that connection to gift shops and souvenir stalls.

tableware with aura

“Murano is kitsch,” says Heyman, a 41-year-old New Yorker whose collection of vintage Murano glass chandeliers decorated with glass fruits inspired her to create glass pipes shaped like bananas, oranges and grapes for her line of smoking accessories. , Flower by Edie Parker. “It has the aura, the weight of being something very Italian and very important, but then, like Venice in general, it’s also a bit kitsch, like Disneyland at its best.”

The Murano-inspired pieces that designer Susan Korn makes for the Susan Alexandra accessories line are also somewhere between exclusive and basic. It recently started selling multi-colored glasses and plates, decorated with appliqués of undulating blown-glass flowers, lips and winking faces, all made of glass.

Lamp by Gennaro Pepe, who assures:
Lamp by Gennaro Pepe, who assures: “Glass is in fashion and is a trend”

“Murano was those fine things my grandmother collected in the glass cabinet in the dining room,” says Korn. “I wanted my pieces to be exaggerated but at the same time livable, usable.”

Korn’s pieces combine a Murano-inspired homeware style with an eccentric art school aesthetic that might also describe the work of Toshie Adachi, 46, a Tokyo-based artist whose glass pieces are patterned with vignettes, grids, and moles. His pieces are partially inspired by murrine, a Murano technique that consists of creating patterns and images within a glass rod, which are only revealed when the rod is cut crosswise.

The essence of Murano is also evident in the work of Breanna Box, 28, and Peter Dupont, 26, founders of the Heven glassware line. Box and Dupont launched their line in early 2021, when they were living in London, and currently work at Brooklyn Glass, a workshop in the New York neighborhood of Gowanus. His pieces, like the glass sculptures made by Salvador Dalí, are both soft and majestic, with patterns and colors reminiscent of genuine Murano.

children again

Box, Dupont and Adachi don’t work with real Murano glass, but other artists, like Gennaro Pepe, 61, have been working with genuine glass for decades, and today they find their art has a renewed following. Pepe lives in Spain and buys Murano glass from Carlo Moretti, a company from Venice. With this glass he makes lamps and some of the translucent glass pendants, rings and earrings that are marketed by the Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Gimaguas brands.

Dalya Benor, 30, a writer and jeweler from Los Angeles, attributes the fashion world’s current interest in Murano glassware to a broader trend toward things made by hand. “I think there’s a general return to artisanal and everything handmade,” says Benor.

“Glass is fashionable and a trend, and there is a whole new generation of people who want to learn the trade,” says Pepe, who started in 1993.

Cristaseya, a Parisian clothing and interior design brand, has included Murano glassware as part of its collection since 2015. The current collection includes glasses with glass appliqués that look like little mushrooms emerging from the forest. “When you hold it in your hand, it feels very organic,” Cristina Casini, 49, founder of Cristaseya, says of those hand-blown glass pieces made in Italy.

Dalya Benor, 30, a writer and jeweler from Los Angeles, attributes the fashion world’s current interest in Murano glassware to a broader trend toward things made by hand. “I think there’s a general return to artisanal and everything handmade,” says Benor. “The mismatched, mismatched aesthetic had a huge impact, and I think jewelry follows that trend.”

Sales of Murano glass products in the watch and jewelry category increased by almost 200% from last year

Benor got her start in jewelry in 2020, began taking glassmaking classes in January 2021, and just six months later introduced her jewelry brand, All Fine. In her jewelry, in addition to using the glass pieces she makes, Benor also includes Murano glass beads that she finds on Instagram or buys on eBay, as well as Czech glass beads and Swarovski crystals.

But Benor isn’t the only one raking the internet for Murano glass. According to Tirath Kamdar, general manager of luxury goods at eBay, sales of Murano glass products in the watch and jewelry category have increased by almost 200% since last year. Something similar happened at online trading company 1stdibs: Sales of Murano glass pieces were up 35% from last year, says Tony Fruend, editorial director of the online luxury goods and antiques company.

Fruend attributes the renewed interest in antique Murano glass pieces to people’s desire to live in a warm environment, decorated with handmade objects. Alessandra Baldereschi, 46, who designs glassware “inspired by the great Murano masters” for Ichendorf Milano, a Milan studio, has another explanation for the growing interest in the Murano style, just after two very difficult years. “It makes you feel like a kid again.”

Translation of Jaime Arrambide


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