February 7, 2012

Bright Future: New Designs in Glass

Pratt Institute
J. & L. Lobmeyr, Basket Chandelier, designed by Marco Dessí, 2010, brass, glass, and silk ropes, 25.5 x 14.4 x 14.5 inches.

“Bright Future: New Designs in Glass” is an international exhibition of sculpture, tableware, and lighting designs that explore issues of sustainability, the manipulation of light, and the contrast of ancient and modern influences in contemporary glass. The signature qualities of glass—its flexibility, clarity, complex cultural history and ability to magnify and direct light—are all at play in the works exhibited. The exhibition is guest-curated by Sarah Archer, chief curator at the Philadelphia Art Alliance. 


“Bright Future” is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the development of studio art glass in America. To celebrate this milestone, more than 160 glass demonstrations, lectures, and exhibitions will take place in museums, galleries, art centers, universities, organizations, festivals, and other venues across the United States throughout 2012.


“Recent innovations have made it possible for glass to look and behave in unexpected ways,” said Archer. “Each object in ‘Bright Future’ was selected because it demonstrates either a recent development in glass technology or a new twist on a recognizable and ancient technique.”


Combining a traditional technique with a high-tech material, Werner Aisslinger’s Mesh Vases are created by blowing glass into a heat-resistant fiber mesh, leaving a distinctive pattern on the surface of the glass. New materials such as LiTraCon (concrete that is made transparent with the addition of glass), and heat-sensitive and “switchable” glass that changes color or opacity when touched or turned on and off present designers and architects with intriguing solutions to design challenges and allow them to avoid the use of plastics or other unsustainable supplies.


Pratt Industrial Design alumnus Tom Patti (B.I.D. ’67 and M.I.D. ’69), Alison Berger, and Helen Lee harness the unique ability of glass to direct and amplify light, according to Archer. Their installations invite viewers to experience a real-time optical effect that cannot be replicated in a photograph. James Carpenter’s plans for the proposed Moynihan Station in Manhattan demonstrate the use of glass as an architectural element capable of creating “light interactions” in interior public spaces.


Several of the designers featured in the exhibition mine glass’s rich history and reinterpret the elaborate aesthetic of 17th- and 18th-century European glass. Liana Yaroslavsky’s Maure de Venise coffee table encases a deep purple chandelier based on a fixture by Seguso inside a sleek, minimalist plexiglass shell. Similarly, Ingo Maurer’s Luester light glows with 287 white LEDs arranged in the shape of a multi-tiered chandelier and sandwiched between two flat pieces of glass.


The full list of participating artists, designers and firms includes:
Lindsey Adelman Studio, New York, USA
Werner Aisslinger and CIAV, Meisenthal, France
Omer Arbel for Bocci, Vancouver, Canada
Alison Berger, Los Angeles, USA
Amiram Biton, Israel
James Carpenter Design Associates, New York, USA
Marco Dessí for J. & L. Lobmeyr, Vienna, Austria
GlasPro, California, USA
Helen Lee, California, USA
Aron Losonczi/Litracon, Hungary
Ingo Maurer, Munich, Germany and New York, USA
Giovanni Moretti for Carlo Moretti srl, Murano, Venice, Italy
Moving Color, California, USA
Bruce Munro, United Kingdom
Tom Patti, Massachusetts, USA
Robert Stadler, Paris, France
SWITCH Lighting, California, USA
Hulger and Samuel Wilkinson, London, United Kingdom
Liana Yaroslavsky, Paris, France 


Before becoming chief curator at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Archer was director of Greenwich House Pottery and curatorial assistant at the Museum of Arts and Design. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of Modern CraftAmerican CraftArtnet, Ceramics: Art and PerceptionHand/EyeModern Magazine, and The Huffington Post. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Swarthmore College and a master of arts degree from the Bard Graduate Center.


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