Two worlds of glass collide beautifully at Milan’s Palazzo Serbelloni, where Lasvit presents contemporary artisanal lights and wares alongside restored crystal chandeliers. Narelle Yabuka reports.
Top image: Palazzo Serbelloni
The elaborately decorated rooms of Palazzo Serbelloni, where Napoleone Bonaparte resided during his stay in Milan, are currently taking visitors on a journey from the traditional world of Bohemian crystal chandeliers to the new abstract expressions being forged by Lasvit.
The show Via Lucis begins with a dynamic, pulsing orb of bright green uranium glass in the palace forecourt – an immediate signifier of the contemporary path being pursued by Lasvit. Intergalactic Dynamic Sculpture by Lasvit’s designers Petra Krausova and Libor Sostak immediately transports you into a two-world state of mind as you step off Corso Venezia. The sculpture was inspired by the Ries Crater in western Bavaria, which was formed 14 million years ago by an asteroid impact. The force of the asteroid’s explosion sent molten rocks flying up to 300 kilometres away, forming green ‘cosmic glass’ called Moldavite in the process. The sculpture pulses with changing light like an asteroid entering the atmosphere.
Upstairs in a series of connected rooms, Lasvit presents contemporary reinterpretations of the Neoclassical chandeliers that hang overhead – which Lasvit restored with the Fondazione Serbelloni team. The work of renowned names such as Andre Fu, Moritz Waldemeyer and Maurizio Galante sits alongside that of Czech legends and young designers.
Maxim Velcovsky’s piece Mememto Mori (Latin for ‘remember death’) is one of the most surprising in its deconstruction of the traditional chandelier form. Velcovsky pays homage to the Czech world heritage site Sedlec Ossuary – a chapel decorated with the skeletons of between 40,000 and 70,000 people. His chandelier, incorporating a glass skull and bones dripping like jewels, symbolises birth and death as well as disappearing crafts.
Other pieces present more structured reinterpretations. With Facet, Moritz Waldemeyer takes the geometrical shape of the classic chandelier outline and turns it into a hexagonal glass building block. Maurizio Galante used modern industrial tubular glass to create the streamlined Ludwig chandelier.
Andre Fu took inspiration from Maison de Verre (the House of Glass), Czech metropolitan passageways, traditional Chinese tiled roofs, the Flatiron Building, as well as modernist glass blocks and created a purist triangular glass profile. He adapted this into table lamps, floor lamps and pendants under the title Tac/Tile.
Boris Klimek experimented with the technique of slumped (moulded) glass in terms of glass colouring, glint and internal structure. His Lollipop lamps and pendants consist of amorphous glass plates, each with a metal holder and light source, creating lollipop-like forms.
Lasvit also presents a range of glassware in the show. Especially for the Salone del Mobile, designers including Daniel Libeskind, the Campana Brothers and Arik Levy reinterpreted their past collections for Lasvit, focusing on the theme art de la table.
The Campana Brothers developed their recently released Candy lights into colourful tableware. Arik Levy extended his Crystal Rock pendant light series into perfectly cut, yet roughly sculpted vases. Daniel Libeskind translated his angular, geometric Ice lighting sculpture into moulded vases.
Other objects in the glassware display explore glass cutting (Radiant by Patricia Urquiola), the use of metal moulds (Frozen by Maxim Velcovsky), glass blowing and pressing (Munchies by Michaela Mertlova, which simulates the process of blowing bubble gum), and ‘errors’ in glass blowing (Born Broken by Jakub Berdych). Lasvit also pays homage to one of the greatest Czech visionaries, presenting Champagne Cooler by Jan Kaplicky.
Lasvit’s work on restoring four of the eighteenth-century Bohemian crystal chandeliers within the Palazzo Serbelloni involved dismantling and shipping them back to the Lasvit glassworks in the Czech Republic. There, craftspeople used traditional techniques to produce and replace parts: hand-cut crystal trimmings, hand-blown and cut components, as well as mould–melted and cut glass arms.
Said Lasvit Founder and President Leon Jakimič, “I was very excited when I entered Palazzo Serbelloni and discovered the beautiful Bohemian chandeliers of the late 1700s in an Italian palace. It was instantly clear that Lasvit and our master glassmakers could significantly contribute to the restoration of these extraordinary artefacts.”
Their re-installation above Lasvit’s contemporary chandeliers, each encased by a lofty black niche, makes for a high-impact presentation of then and now.
Via Lucis runs from 12 – 17 April 2016, 10am – 8pm at Palazzo Serbelloni, 16 Corso Venezia, Milan. Lasvit is available in Hong Kong through Lane Crawford, Zodiac Lighting and The Shop by Shangri-La.