«There are lots of common factors between working with glass and architecture»
Based in Basel, the Italian architect Laura Sattin designs elegant glass objects, which are made in the workshops of Murano in Venice. These extremely delicate creations are inspired by the lagoon and her work helps to perpetuate the ancient technique of glass-blowing without a mould. This encourages her to travel to Murano at least once a month, she tells us during an interview.
Patricia Lunghi: Why did you choose glass? What fascinates you about this material?
Laura Sattin: As a child I was surrounded by glass objects in the shop that my mother had in Venice and I used to accompany her to select new items. I have therefore always been familiar with this material. Later on, I won a competition and was able to design my first collection thanks to the Murano Glass Museum. Glass is a material that is so flexible, so rich in history, with countless artistic and technological applications that I will never be able to discover all of them.
P.L.: You say that the shapes of your creations are linked to stories, what do you mean by that?
L.S.: I need to «construct stories» that guide my work to create a project. Each of my collections is recognisable because of a theme that gives a meaning to the project and reinforces its identity. For example «caìgo», which means «fog» in the Venetian dialect is the title of a collection of grey glass: transparency returns and fits on frosted glass, therefore evoking the image of fog over the water of the lagoon.
P.L.: What are the techniques that you use?
L.S.: I explore different artisan techniques of free glass-blowing, without any moulds. At the moment I am working with blown filigree and gold which are both ancient, complex techniques. I am trying to make simple designs so that I can concentrate on the material. Thanks to the support of the Swiss Ikea Foundation, I have been able to develop the «Polline» collection and am working with sheets of 24 carat gold that are applied to melted glass. The gold is blown in a special stove, then spread over the glass like fine dust, reminiscent of pollen from flowers.
P.L.: How is hand-crafted glass getting on in Murano? Has there been a revival?
L.S.: There are a few young glass-blowers, but most haven’t followed in the footsteps of their fathers. Glass remains a major breadwinner for the inhabitants of the island of Murano, but production becomes difficult. New laws prevent the use of certain substances used in ancient formulae, the cost of gas for the ovens is very high and the production times are long. Despite this, I believe that the craft of glass-making will survive, as it seems that there is a trend to keep these professions, this expertise and traditional techniques alive, which create the identity of a place. I too, in my own way, try to help perpetuate the art of glass.