If there is a kind of mid century object that you can easily find in a flea market or thrift store, this is glass. Last year I found amazingMurano glass while I was thrifting: real bargains!
Mid century glass is special, the sculptural and organic forms create an amazing display as they capture the light decorating the room all alone.
My curiosity, brought me to discover a bit more of the history of these objects and their designers across the most important countries of origin: Italy(Murano), Sweden and Finland.
(pics from the book: Mid Century Modern)
As I said before, the mid century glass often had a sculptural look even if designed to be daily objects like table-wares, paperweights, platters and so on.
From the late 20s and during all the mid century era, designers started to replace craftsmen -becoming authentic glass artists- and the companies started to create separate lines of vases depending on their final use -like wine glasses and tumblers- with separate departments for the art glass. Particularly during the 50s the distinction between art glass works and common products become subtle with the swirling colours and uncommon forms adopted in functional designs as well.
The Italian Glass Market Throughout the Mid Century
In Italy(Murano, close to Venice) the glass-maker Paolo Venini -who started to experiment with glass already in the early 20s- become the leader in the Italian glass manufacturing market throughout the mid century, encouraging the cooperation between designers and artists to create original products. The biggest credit Venini had was to reinvigorate the Murano glass business with the sculptural and asymmetrical forms of his works.
Along with Venini, Dino Martens and Aldo Nason contributed to bring the Murano’s market back to success after a period of stagnation. Martens had a vocation to transform daily use designs into sculptural and abstract objects altogether while Nason become known for the organic forms and candy-coloured motifs inspired by natural elements and contrasting with the classic but subdued pre-war Murano glass style.
Mid Century Glass Design in Scandinavian
Even if they never achieved bright palette as the Italians’, also the Scandinavian designers experimented with new and original colours’ mixes starting from basic pigments and using different additives in glass. In Sweden several young designers lead the creativity during the mid century. Specially the young Sven Palmqvist -that begun to explore the possibilities of coloured glass already during the 1930s- was inspired by the Byzantine mosaics when designed the Ravenna glass ranges in which he created a mosaic effect using floating pieces of coloured glass within the vessels’ dense walls.
The golden decade for the Finnish glass is surely the 50s.
Designers like Tapio Wirkkala and TImo Sarpaneva won international prizes and contributed to the success of the glass manufacturer Iittala. They designed avant-gard and elegant products. Wirkkala designed a range of products based on jagged ice blocks, lichen vessels and mushroom shapes while with the Tapio series of glassware he wanted to capture the lightness and trasparency of air trapping an air bubble within each dense stem.
Sarpaneva’s work, instaed, was moving from functionality to luxury and back again.
Specially during the mid century he adopted a sculptural approach with his i-Glass series of glassware. The palette he used -smoky colours with a subtle metallic tint- caught the attention of many designers that adopted it for their works creating one of the most iconic palette of the mid century.
As you probably know from my posts about thrifting one of my mid century addiction are vases, along with lamps. It was a long time that I wanted to find out a bit more about the mid century glass and share it with you: I think it’s very useful to know something more to recognize the real bargains during our thrifting tours
Which kind of vases do you have/prefer? Glass or ceramic ones? Let me know in the comments!
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Thanks for reading and ciao.