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© Fluïd


Glass-working techniques come to us from across the centuries, but a new generation of artisans is taking this legacy to new heights. In Italy, Simone Crestani has invented a way to sculpt a type of glass known for its practical uses, uniting strength with exquisite beauty. In the Czech Republic, Zuzana Kubelková creates pieces that evoke the fragile skeletons of sea polyps from glass fibres designed for protective industrial clothing. Their visionary work – together with that of the other master glassmakers featured here – reflects a bold new outlook for glass art.

©Philippe Dannic


Belle-Île-en-Mer, a French island off the coast of Brittany, is the setting for Fluïd, a glassblowing atelier that is itself a place of magic. Fabien Barbeau, lead glassblower, and a team of talented artisans create works ablaze with colour: glassware for fine Parisian restaurants, sculptures that hover like clouds, and vase-like flames that evoke the furnaces in which they were forged. At September’s end, eight young graduates from seven countries will spend a week at Fluïd learning from world-class glassmakers as part of the Michelangelo Foundation Summer School. Their assignment: to help the masters create large-scale works for the collection of the association French Hot Glass Family. The visiting masters include Tobias Møhl and Nanna Backhaus (Denmark), Andrew Brown (Great Britain) and Nancy Callan (United States).

© Fluïd / © Marc Baudrillart

© Courtesy of Simone Crestani


Simone Crestani, a master glassmaker based an hour west of Venice, Italy, has developed a technique of working with a flame on borosilicate glass, which he calls hollow sculpture. In his hands, dozens of sea anemones join together in an elegant chandelier, budding branches become candelabra and insects metamorphose into vases. His pieces have been in the world’s most prestigious glass exhibitions and are sold through the Bernd Goeckler gallery in New York.

© Alberto Parise / © Courtesy of Simone Crestani

Ondine 2016, fiber glass © Marek Êtim


Czech glassmaker Zuzana Kubelková is known for her experimentation with unconventional materials. In an installation that won her first place in Young Glass 2017, two sheets of glass encased sodium acetate that she heated with electrical circuits, creating a meditative cycle of crystals turning to liquid and back again. Her recent work also pushes boundaries, combining fiberglass with melted glass and basalt, resulting in pieces that seem animated by a living, organic force.

© Tomas Princ / © Gabriel Urbanek

Photo by Tomas Bertelsen © Michelangelo Foundation

In the eyes of legendary fashion journalist Suzy Menkes, Homo Faber 2018, last September’s exhibition in Venice was “an inspiring and highly sophisticated showcase” to work made by hand. Her account, originally published in British Vogue, is now collected in her book, Suzy Menkes: Five Years in Vogue. Her words convey the joy of seeing artisans at work and the “breathtaking body of work”, from a hand-stitched leather saddle to handmade violins, from clothing to a racing car and much more. Read her article, Craft and Humanity Define Luxury.

Save the date: Homo Faber 2020: Crafting a human future will be held in Venice from 10 September to 11 October.

Photo by Tomas Bertelsen © Michelangelo Foundation


Courtesy of Ida Wiet, All Rights Reserved


The award-winning artist often challenges traditional techniques to find new possibilities for glass. She might blow and pull glass canes, for example, then add metal oxides and later re-melt them and bend them into a singular object. Wieth often combines glass with ceramics, and among her many inspirations are Japanese arts and crafts.

© Gabriele Künster
Courtesy of Gabriele Künster, All Rights Reserved


The prize-winning artist uses fused glass mosaic, an ancient Roman craft, in her stunning vases and broad-rimmed bowls. Her distant ancestors were glassblowers on the island of Murano in Italy, a legacy that perhaps surfaces in the Italian style of her work. Küstner also pushes limits, colouring glass rods on the outside with china paint.

© Lukáš Houdek / UMPRUM

Czech Republic

At the venerable Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design (UMPRUM), the glass studio, led by renowned artist Rony Plesl, combines creative design with a conceptual approach. The aim is for graduates to be able to not only create fine work but convince word-class producers of the strength and meaningfulness of their designs.

© Escola Massana


The Barcelona-based school offers glassmaking as part of its postgraduate program in contemporary applied arts and design. The workshop experience gives students the space and a time to deepen their skills and master techniques and materials. The school also prepares them to work well in multi-professional teams, critical as they pursue creative careers.


Get up close to craftsmanship this month
with these forthcoming events

30 Sep - 6 Oct
London, UK

PAD London
Set in Mayfair, PAD is London’s leading fair for 20th Century art, design and decorative arts.

10-20 Oct
Venice, Italy

Venice Design Week
This fair features exhibitions on contemporary design and crafts, competitions, and special events including museum visits.

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