Nendo unveils gravity-formed Melt furniture for WonderGlass
Appearing like ice sculptures, frozen in time, WonderGlass’ latest collection of clear glass furniture sees the brand collaborate with master of minimalism Oki Sato and his Tokyo-based studio Nendo. The gravity-formed pieces mark the Venice-based brand’s move into furniture design, expanding on its existing collection of lighting and objects.
Titled ‘Melt,’ the collection sees the designer pair simple arch shapes with flat panels to form elegant chairs, tables, stools, benches and tabletop pieces with bumpy, imperfect surfaces, which lend them an icy appearance.
‘The Melt Collection pushes the boundaries and capabilities of cast glass,’ say WonderGlass founders Maurizio and Christian Mussati. ‘Nendo has explored the molten liquid nature of the material with incredible skill.’
Chair design in the ’Melt’ collection for WonderGlass. Photography: Akihiro Yoshida
The collection follows on from a series of glass objects by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, which the brand launched during last year’s Salone del Mobile. Nendo’s collection, fittingly named Melt, allows the material to direct the design process using gravity as main characteristic of this labour-intensive production technique.
Made by the skilled team of craftsmen at the brand’s factory in Venice, each piece begins as a vat of molten glass scooped out of an oven, poured onto a surface and rolled out like dough to create an even thickness. Still red hot, the glowing glass sheet is then carefully draped over a steel pipe, which gives it its melted form.
The piece is left to cool for a few minutes before being prised away from the pipe and lifted into an annealing oven, called a Lehr. The whole process involves a carefully orchestrated symphony of timings and temperatures and requires the team of eight or so craftsmen to work together as one to avoid any mistakes, which can ruin the entire process. If the temperature is just a degree out or the glass stays a few seconds too long in the Lehr it can crack or shatter as it cools.
The making of the Melt collection in WonderGlass’ Venice factory. Photography: Mattia Balsamini
‘I was inspired by looking at the workshops, looking at the people working, using the melted material,’ said Sato of the design and development process. ‘The main idea was to let the glass flow by itself using gravity and using the weight of glass itself. In a way, doing less and achieving more is the most complicated thing to do.’
Melt will be presented during IMM Cologne (14-20 January) with an exhibition at the city’s 25hours Hotel. The presentation, which will see the furniture presented alongside a photographic exhibition will serve as a preview of WonderGlass’ upcoming installation at Salone del Mobile in April later this year. §