‘This is only ever the third licensed design I’ve ever produced,’ says Peter Marino, the New York architect best known for luxury boutiques and interiors, as he fishes around for something in his leather fanny pack. He pulls out his prior limited-edition design, a pen from a collection he designed for the Swiss brand Caran-d’Ache in April. It’s a weighty little scepter, topped with a skull and adorned in silver-coated eyelets and black leather – which is of course synonymous with Marino’s person at this point. He’s never not wearing it from head to toe.
But today, Marino is at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design to celebrate the launch of ‘Black Belt’, his new vase collection with historic Italian glass company Venini. It does not involve leather. ‘Well, I tried as hard as I could!’ he says, in good jest. ‘I got the black to look as much as a leather strap as I could.’
The gently rounded vessels, tinted in pale shades of green and pink, are accented with luscious, painterly bands of black and filled with peonies. ‘I have a different philosophy from many architects,’ says Marino. ‘It’s not just about art; I like art that’s used, so I made vases for flowers because I’m a flower freak.’
Ando Cosmos collection by Tadao Ando for Venini
Marino’s collection is the latest in Venini’s longstanding work with legendary architects. Past collaborators have included Ettore Sottsass, Gae Aulenti and Gio Ponti; last month, the artistic glass company also launched a collection by Tadao Ando, titled ‘Cosmos’. It’s comprised of three rectilinear vessels that interlock to form a spherical void – the Japanese master’s meditation on nothingness.
Seen in tandem with ‘Black Belt’ (both collections are on view at Manhattan’s Les Ateliers Courbet this month), it’s a visual lesson in the diverse art of glassmaking: Ando’s precise geometries could not contrast more heavily to Marino’s bulbous, organic forms. ‘That’s the beauty of working with great architects – they are so different from one another, and from the craftsmanship point of view, it’s always a technical challenge,’ says Silvia Damiani, of the Damiani family of legacy jewellers, who acquired Venini last year. Damiani believes the two worlds are natural bedfellows.
‘I think a jewel is something that can define your elegance and the way you dress,’ she muses. ‘Jewellery is near to you because it is on your body and you wear it; and Venini works are near to you because they are in your house, and the places where you feel at home.’