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Goti Make Strong Showing At Sotheby's

Sotheby’s auction Living Contemporary curated by Marcantonio closed on March 9 at 2 p.m., with the results exceeding our expectations.

The sale included 10 Goti designed by our founder Marie that epitomized the creativity and originality she brought to reinterpreting these humble glasses.

Originally, goto de fornasa were the cups that glass-masters made to refresh themselves during hot working days in the furnace. They typically had irregular shapes and “random” aesthetics because the goti were decorated with glass leftovers collected from other processes.

Marie was the one who evolved this traditional glass-type into the unique art pieces we appreciate today.

Today, we are happy to have become part of the Sotheby’s community.

Colors Down, Concepts Up! Our High School Program Is Turning Murano Clear

Murano glass is known for its bold colors and eccentric patterns, but what if you could only use transparent glass to convey the value of a piece?

That’s the question we posed to a group of high school students studying professional glassmaking techniques at Abate Zanetti high school on the island of Murano.

The project, called Crystal Clear, was a six-lesson workshop held in December intended to inspire younger generations about contemporary glass culture.

Each session addressed a different topic, highlighting all aspects of design, production and marketing. The goal was to guide students in developing a product whose value was more conceptual and creative, rather than aesthetic, underlining the importance of communication and storytelling in glassmaking.

The participants were invited to embrace tradition without being stuck in the past, moving beyond colorful designs to sell strong ideas. The name “Crystal Clear” was inspired by the decision of using exclusively transparent glass to effectively convey the product’s inner values.

With a population of barely 4,000 residents that keeps decreasing and aging over the years — the average age was 43,6 in 2019, according to a report by We are Here Venice — Murano is experiencing challenging times. Abate Zanetti high school counts just 35 students.

Until now, the island’s economy has been based mostly on tourism and small-scale production of crafted glass. However, Murano is now called to find its place in the modern context. We believe that involving students — both local and international – is the first step towards a flourishing tomorrow.

The first pieces conceived by the students are now being produced in the Abate Zanetti furnace. We can’t wait to enter the next, exciting phase of this collaboration: developing a suitable communication and marketing strategy for the products.

A Research Trip for New Design Perspectives

Latest Updates on Architecture in Murano, our ongoing project about Fornace Pitau’s renovation, carried on together with IUAV University.

This month, IUAV University students and Prof. Sara Marini joined us for the first site-inspection of Fornace Pitau, the Murano glass factory that we aim to transform into a contemporary research and production center for arts and culture.

Since 1964, the factory has been run by the Pitau siblings, Carlo and Maria, who became famous for their production of glass sculptures and “Pagliacci” clowns.

Now in their 80s, they still bicke good naturedly. When we arrived on site, we could immediately hear Maria reprimanding her brother for messing around, while shaking her head. The two of them make a nice, lively duo.

However, while Carlo entertains the students with his jokes and stories about the past, Maria seems concerned about the future of the glass industry. The work they’re so fond of and passionate about, the activity they have been engaged in for almost 60 years, is at risk because of the energy crisis.

As we explained in a previous issue of Onda, our ultimate ambition is to keep Fornace Pitau alive, infusing it with new energy and ideas from different disciplines.

During the site visit, we also showed the students another example that has recently popped up on the island. The H&A Associati architectural firm’s NH Collection Murano Villa hotel project, which opened in 2021, converted the historical De Majo glass factory into a contemporary hospitality complex.

The firm opted for a conservative restoration, carefully preserving the distinctive industrial elements — as well as the rough aesthetic of the pre-existing brick furnace. We were pleased to be able to share the hotel as a reference for the students, since it embodies the vision of an alternative scenario for the future of Murano.

The Tubo Project Invites to Keep Everything of Your Packaging

A few months ago, we spent three days inside a packaging company in Murano trying to build functioning furniture out of cardboard tubes. The workshop was called Tubo, and involved our friends and partners from the multidisciplinary design studio Lorenzo Mason Studio. The goal was to study alternative applications for the afterlife of our packaging — and create something you’ll want to keep even after the glassware is unpacked.

Today, that experience has evolved into a limited-edition tableware product we’re launching this month. Inspired by our original workshop with Lorenzo Mason Studio, we approached the product with a crucial lesson in mind: the packaging should be something you keep.

Tubo is a set of pyrex glass drinking cups, developed in collaboration with Mason, that questions the modern throwaway culture of treating packaging like trash.

The glass set is wrapped with signed, numbered copies of a poster that Lorenzo Mason specifically designed as artwork to be hung on the wall. Cardboard dividers between the glasses contain provocative but uplifting sentences, and can be used as coasters. The external cardboard shipping tube is the modular element that is the foundation of our Tubo experimental furniture, which in turn inspired a new, more sustainable – and creative – approach to packaging design.

Tubo will be available soon, for private sales only. Write us to purchase the product.

Note: the quotes written on the cardboard coasters come from the “Over One Hundred Twenty Solutions” project by Lorenzo Mason Studio, a tiny book containing statements for everyday living, all casually collected from different – unnamed – sources.

Find inspiring perspectives on waste and reuse in Agnes Varda’s documentary Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (The Gleaners), available on MUBI.

To Visit Next Month: Marcantonio’s Unknown N°62 at Alma Zevi Gallery in London

In Venetian jargon the word cotissi describes the raw glass pieces that are left over from traditional glass processing. These irregularly-shaped crystal blocks with sharp edges come in infinite hues, and even though they are sometimes reused as colors/tints, the scraps are still incredibly beautiful.

Cotissi also represent the starting point of Marcantonio’s artistic research on glass “waste”. Since 2017, he has produced an evolving series of sculptural art vases he calls the “Unknowns,” employing a self-taught technique that generates instinctive and spontaneous shapes.

The sculptures have a stunning, monumental appeal. In the office we affectionately call these pieces “mastiffs”, after one time Marcantonio misspoke and referred to them as mastiffs — like the dog breed — when he meant to say “massive”.

From April 7th to 22nd, 2022 Alma Zevi Gallery in London will exhibit Marcantonio’s latest piece, *Unknown N° 62***, a colorful composition of cotissi rocks under a crystal coating. The shape resulting from the process is fluid, organic instead of pre-determined, the effect of efforts made by the artist while trying to tame the powerful material.

The sculpture’s uneven texture challenges our craving for touch, triggering a desire to physically explore the caves and inlets that the glass prisms create. The object thus suggests a more intimate approach to the art piece.

Keep updated on the exhibition here.

What Does It Mean to Connect Design and Pedagogy?

Picasso said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain artists as we grow up. In a famous 2006 TED talk, creativity expert Sir. Ken Robinson used this quote to discuss the harm that conventional educational systems might do to creativity by establishing overly narrow definitions of success. Inspired by Ken Robinson’s theories and ideas, Giorgio Camuffo — a Venice-born graphic designer and art director who was named an Italian Ambassador of Design in 2017 — developed an interest in pedagogy. He started researching alternative pathways for education and ended up finding one in design itself.

Together with Giorgio Camuffo and the Free University Bozen-Bolzano (UniBZ), and in partnership with VITAL and We Are Here Venice, we are launching a new project that interweaves pedagogy and design, hoping to raise environmental awareness in the youngest generations.

According to Robinson, children’s inner capacity to interpret, invent and impact the world gets lost in a sea of pre-defined parameters and standards. Mistakes are stigmatized, and become the “worst thing you can make” instead of a normal part of the learning process. “Children have extraordinary capacities for innovation and all kids have tremendous talents but we squander them, pretty ruthlessly,” he says. Art is ultimately sacrificed on the altar of productivity.

So what is the connection between design and pedagogy? That’s where Camuffo and his team at UniBZ come in. Camuffo — associate professor who runs the Visual Communication design program– believes that designers can contribute meaningfully to the renewal of learning methods. According to the professor, designers should bring together professional figures from various fields and explore new directions together.

For our collaboration, called LAGUNAR, Camuffo’s third-year students will participate in a 6-month workshop aimed at developing children's booklets to explain the fragility — but also the unique beauty — of the Venetian lagoon.

As part of the program the VITAL team is arranging on-site visits to some key areas: so far, students have visited Sant'Erasmo and Cavallino Treporti in the northern part of the basin. Later, they will visit Pellestrina and the Ca’ Roman coastline, and eventually explore the southern area of the lagoon. These excursions will show the students how singular this environment is.

Amid the outputs produced at the end of the semester, a number of projects will be selected to be printed, published and distributed in schools as a tool for children to develop an active sensitivity towards environmental issues.

More updates are coming.

The First “NO ISSUE” by Carlotta Bianchi & Audrey Etro

The first issue of NO ISSUE features an interview with Marcantonio about the meaning of conscious and contemporary design, sustainability, and the preservation — or evolution — of the Murano glassmaking tradition. In the interview, Marcantonio explains the new imprint and direction he’s given to our business, hoping to positively impact the whole industry with a more sensitive attitude towards the environment, culture and future generations.

NO ISSUE is an editorial project by Carlotta Bianchi, film director and creative producer, and Audrey Etro, who’s now working for a publishing house in New York. Carlotta and Audrey conceived of it during quarantine, aiming to bridge the Italian creative community with international artists — including musicians, photographers, designers and writers.

The two of them — who grew up together in Milan — share a vision beyond their friendship. Issue No.0 is a limited-edition run of 200 printed copies that was designed as a work of art. The curators intended to make an entirely sustainable art book. Upcycled Etro's wasted textiles were used for the covers, and every copy, which is different and unique, is printed on 100% recycled paper.

We are happy to share Carlotta and Audrey’s astonishing work, which is available here — but probably not for very long.