What do we look for when we are assessing the design of a glass light?
We want to see a genuine, real feeling for glass – what makes it unique and what it can do best. As the oldest man-made material, and arguably the most useful, there will be an awareness of its cultural history. Plus, the designer/artist must not only be able to think in three dimensions but also, if the glass is clear, be able to work with reflections, and the effect of both sides of a solid object being visible at once.
We were therefore delighted to come across Michaela and Jakub of Dechem Studio when they were showing at Rossana Orlandi in 2015. These are their Bandaska lights. The strong, simple, beautifully proportioned shapes recall glass containers, and indeed they do a series of Bandaska vases…
You could have a display of vases echoing the pendants hanging in the same room!
Then, we look closely at what happens where the glass meets the metal structure (there is always a metal structure). Glass is a clear, supercooled liquid – it is light – whereas metal is dense, solid and dark. Glass and metal could not be more different. And the clarity of the glass (I’m assuming clear glass here) means that the metal parts are cruelly exposed. Bandaska’s metal frame comprises a tube, matched by a tube-shaped lamp, with three simple components extending to support the glass:
Every part is simply and elegantly done. The same characteristics can be found in other lights in their collection. For example, the Hadkovka table light
You know I said that there is always a metal structure? Well, Hadovka is the exception that proves the rule, because the whole thing – shade and structure and lamp holder – is made of borosilicate.
For various technical reasons, this is very difficult to do. We have only ever seen the like where specialized technical glassware is being made for scientific researchers. But what really matters is the end result. Dechem Studio have preserved the lightness of transparent glass throughout the entire table light.
Besides the design, what else do we look for in a glass light? The quality of the glass, and how it has been worked. This is down to the glassworks, and so we thought it a Very Good Thing that Dechem Studio has created a lighting collection for Bomma.
Although we currentlty work with variuous Murano glassworks and with Dartington Crystal in Devon, we have been keeping our eye out for potential collaborators in the Czech Republic, where the descendants of the Bohemian glass tradition have the most accomplished factories, glass artists and glass schools. Bomma is Europe’s most modern glass factory, having been opened in June 2012 in order to employ the skilled craftsmen left without a job when the 100 year-old Svetla glass factory closed. The investment came from Bohemia Machine s.r.o., who make the most advanced glass cutting and grinding machinery.
The quality of glass comes from the mix of ingredients, and how they are handled in the furnaces. In clear glass, for fine lighting we want to see exceptional clarity. It should be noticably better, as is the clear glass of Carlo Moretti (because, unlike the rest of Murano, they worked without colour for twenty years), and as is Bomma’s.
Think glassmaking, you think 1200° furnaces, but the coldwork is just as important! Bomma also exhibit exceptional cutting:
This is a detail from one of Dechem Studio’s Phenomena Cut series for Bomma. This is Phenomena Cut 02:
There are four uncut Phenomena designs...
...in some wonderful misty, graduated colours:
Please note that the Phenomena are BIG!!! For example, the capsule-shaped one above is Ø40cm H100cm. Here are some in Poliform showrooms:
They are also particularly suited to large, double-height spaces.
I hope that you can also see those Dechem Studio traits. The shapes that are strong and simple: a sphere, a cone…. And the junction of metal and glass is beautifully resolved. This is the cone (Phenomena 01):