Discovering the city with Aaron Taylor Harvey
Marcel Wanders wrote a poem in Milan
Light and glass meet Japanese handwriting in Calliope, a project for Wondeglass by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders
Wonderglass has become a fixture at Milan’s Istituto dei Ciechi during Design Week. Founded in 2013 by Maurizio and Christian Mussati, Wonderglass is a project that adds a tiny building block to its evolving personality every year. Somewhere in the middle between art and design, it works on the expressive potential of glass and light, without forgetting about the technique. It’s more about creating atmospheres than simply designing new lamps.
This year, Istituto dei Ciechi, designed by Giuseppe Pirovano in the late 1800s, welcomes visitors with all its majesty. The building is valued by a minimal steel structure on which Fluid lamps by Nao Tamura are hanged. It is a project dedicated to water and reflections, inspired by the moment in which light hits a liquid surface creating a series of bright circles. Just opposite, on the stage, is Calliope by Marcel Wanders. It is a composition of chandeliers inspired by Japanese handwriting; these are pendants made of Murano glass with synthetic brushes hair hanging from underneath.
We met him together with Gabriele Chiave, creative director of the studio, to learn more about this project, where the elegance of Japanese handwriting translated into light and glass is a tribute to Calliope, muse of poetry.
All Pictures: Giuseppe Fanizza
How do these elements come together?
Marcel Wanders: I tried my best to find a company that works with Murano glass – the heart of this project – to give shape to an interesting mix with light to create something new. I was particularly enthusiastic about the idea of combining glass with something soft such as fabric, like the brushes hair that swing underneath the lamps, writing a poem written by the wind.
What does light represent here?
Gabriele Chiave: Light here is the invisible. It finds the perfect dialogue with the transparency of glass and it finds its beauty when we make it visible.
M.W.: Light has also a lot to do with illusion. Once, it was simply a purely functional element while now this function is acquitted by a technical lighting. We draw bright and decorative symbols that don’t have to be massive to create the desired atmosphere. Light becomes itself a symbol of a previous presence as if it was an old friend.
In your projects, there are often classic references translated into contemporary objects: how does this continuous game of references and time translations take place?
M.W.: We don’t want to affirm the importance of the past over the future: it is a modern misused and destroyed dogma. We want to design objects that are the result of this journey, that could potentially be designed at any time and be without time. This is also the case of the lamp we designed: the elements we used existed for a long time but have been combined in a new and different way.
What other projects did you present during Milan Design Week?
G.C.: Among our studio’s novelties presented in Milan are two new objects for the Louis Vuitton Objets Nomades family. These are a chair and a partition made with a leather pattern blending our studio’s motifs with Louis Vuitton typical ones. There is also a collection of Pop mirrors for Fiam. Here we used glass and experimented new techniques to create the illusion of a hard surface that becomes soft.
Above: Fluid lamps by Nao Tamura for Wonderglass
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