The inaugural Venice Glass Week celebrates the beating heart of the city

Exhibition of ’Light Blowing’
A group exhibition curated by Ilaria Ruggiero and Samantha Punis called 'Light Blowing' included the work of designers and architects such as Studio Furthermore, Zaha Hadid, Nendo and Nao Tamura.
(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

Locals say that glass, not blood, runs through the veins of Murano’s highly skilled glassmakers, who are notoriously coy about their trade. From the chemical compositions that make up their unique glass to the blowing techniques that are passed down through generations, everything is a closely guarded secret and competition is tough. 

This is why, industry insiders say, it has taken the city of Venice until 2017 to establish its first ever dedicated glass week. Running from 10–17 September, Venice Glass Week was a city-wide celebration of the Venetian Lagoon’s 1,000-year glassmaking heritage. It's a celebration that is much needed. 

Since the 1960s, glass production in Venice has been in decline as markets have shifted. Today, the 60 or so furnaces that populate the city have become more focused on producing one-off bespoke glass art works rather than mass-produced designs that can be made more cheaply in China. Modern technology has not changed production processes at these very traditional furnaces. Work is hard and laborious; with techniques taking years to learn, it has also been increasingly tough to attract young apprentices who are willing to dedicate their lives to the art.

Installation view of ’Light Blowing’ exhibition

Installation view of 'Light Blowing' exhibition at Murano Gallery LUab 4.0 space. 

(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

‘I think the Venice Glass Week is fantastic,’ says Simone Giovanni Cenedese, one of Murano’s youngest maestri. ‘I think it’s a very good idea to promote glass collectively. A lot of companies have been interested [in the Glass Week] and I’ve been surprised. I didn’t think that they would be that open. The participation has been impressive.’

During the inaugural Venice Glass Week, 150 events took place across the city including exhibitions, seminars, workshops, activities and performances – a busy programme that was made possible thanks to the cooperation of three of Venice’s principal cultural institutions: the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia; the Fondazione Giorgio Cini; and the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. Also involved were the guardians of original Murano artistic glass production, the Consorzio Promovetro Murano.

Qwalala’, a 75m long glass brick wall

American artist Pae White created 'Qwalala', a 75m long glass brick wall in the Veneto region. Courtesy Le Stanze del Vetro

(Image credit: Le Stanze del Vetro)

Spellbinding chandelier made with glass

Now in its fifth edition, the 'Glasstress' exhibition displayed designers pushing the boundaries with glass. Pieces included this vast and spellbinding chandelier by Ai Wei Wei. Courtesy Ai Wei Wei and Berengo Studio

(Image credit: Franceco Allgretto)

Reclining Nocturne 1’ glass dresses

Also shown as part of the 'Glasstress' exhibition, the 'Reclining Nocturne 1' glass dresses by Karen LaMonte, 2015. © Karen LaMonte 2017

(Image credit: Francesco Allegretto)

’Vittorio Zecchin transparent Glass

Exhibition 'Vittorio Zecchin: Transparent Glass for Cappellin and Venini' showcased pieces designed by the artist during the 1920s

(Image credit: The artist )

Hand blown glass

The 'Light Blowing' exhibit intended to present ‘the richness and complexity of lighting production in hand blown glass today’.

(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

Left, ’62e, Collezione CIRVA and right, drawings of ’Modello 13003

Left, '62e, Collezione CIRVA,' by Gaetano Pesce 1988-1992 on view at 'Five Glassmaking Techniques' exhibition at the Murano Glass Museum. Right, drawings of 'Modello 13003', by Flavio Poli, for Seguso Vetri d’Arte, Coppa Alfa Romeo, 1961. Courtesy Centro Studi del Vetro - Fondazione Giorgio Cini

(Image credit: Centro Studi del Vetro - Fondazione Giorgio Cini)

Newly-launched Murano Gallery

The 'Light Blowing' exhibition took place in the newly-launched Murano Gallery LUab 4.0 space.

(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

Left, ’Vaso and right, drawing of ’Vaso Garofani,’

Left, 'Vaso: Oriente Osellare Congo' by Dino Martens, 1952. Right, drawing of 'Vaso Garofani,' from series Fantasia, by Vinicio Vianello, 1956. Courtesy Centro Studi del Vetro - Fondazione Giorgio Cini

(Image credit: Dino Martens.Vinicio Vianello)

View of WonderGlass

'Flow[T}' by Nao Tamura, for WonderGlass on view at 'Light Blowing' exhibition.

(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

26 Different coloured brick

'Qwalala' is made up of clear and 26 different coloured bricks.

(Image credit: Enrico Fiorese)

Installation view of 'Light Blowing' exhibition.

Installation view of 'Light Blowing' exhibition.

(Image credit: Cristina Galliena Bohman)

Left, Robert Wilson’s works in glass and right, drawings

Left,  Robert Wilson's works in glass were celebrated at Palazzo Franchetti. Right, drawings from the San Giorgio Glass Study Centre. Peter Shire, bozzetti per 'Stanzaroto', 1998 (Centro Studi del Vetro - Fondazione Giorgio Cini)

(Image credit: Press)

Installation view of ’Metamorphosis’ a project

Installation view of 'Metamorphosis' a project by Camilla Brunelli and Simone Crestani for Editamateria, which combines design and nature. Pictured 'Bubble' cabinet by Simone Crestani, 2017

(Image credit: Camilla Brunelli and Simone Crestani)

Pictured: ’Coppa ’a trina’, modello 2996

Dino Martens's works were explored at Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Pictured: 'Coppa 'a trina', modello 2996', 1952 (Centro Studi del Vetro - Fondazione Giorgio Cini)

(Image credit: Press)

Pictured: ’Wagon glass sculpture

Five of Domitilla Harding's new glass sculptures were on display. Pictured: 'Wagon.' Courtesy Domitilla Harding with Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia

(Image credit: Domitilla Harding with Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia)

Transparent Glass for Cappellin and Venini’

'Vittorio Zecchin: Transparent Glass for Cappellin and Venini' exhibition showcased pieces designed by the artist during the 1920s

(Image credit: The artist)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Venice Glass Week website (opens in new tab)