Recent exhibitions held as part of Toronto’s DesignTO festival and Stockholm Design Week have reignited our longtime love affair with glass. Below, we recap two new glassware collections that take inspiration from baking and nature — plus fresh crystalware designed by Marcel Wanders that’s at the top of our Valentine’s Day wish list. Together, the trio makes for a rich material study, demonstrating the timeless potential of glass to delight and enthrall.
What’s Finnish for “fun”? Officially, it’s “hauskaa” — but lately, Finnish designers are also finding plenty of other ways to communicate a sense of playfulness and joy using their country’s distinctive visual language. For evidence, just look to Serving Sculpture – Renewal of Finnish Craft & Design, an exhibition on display at the Finnish Institute in Stockholm through April 2nd as part of the city’s Design Week festivities.
The show is co-curated by Milla Vaahtera and Hannakaisa Pekkala, who are also the duo behind UU Market, an online gallery representing contemporary Finnish designers. The theme they selected is “form follows fun” — a way to demonstrate that, for many of today’s Finnish makers, “unique is the new norm.”
Throughout the show, whimsical shapes and bold colours feature front and centre. Vaahtera’s own designs make for a particularly hauskaa highlight. Her “Flowers & Cakes” collection presents bulbous glass podiums and vessels in candy-coloured hues, ready to be paired with similarly bright arrangements of desserts or florals. “I have always loved baking, but always felt most cake trays don’t do cakes justice,” Vaahtera explains on her Instagram. No matter how much yellow food colouring you add to your icing, Vaahtera’s podiums can hold their own.
Part of the beauty of glass objects lies in the great effort that has gone into shaping them. For her latest creation, glass designer Sylvia Lee (who serves as the executive and creative director of Jeff Goodman Studio) took inspiration from another form shaped by slow, elemental forces: river rocks. Rendered smooth by water and time, the organic contours of these stones are mimicked in Lee’s hand-blown bowls in shades of blue, grey and aquamarine.
At the centre of each lies a bulb with a silver leaf motif: As it diffuses light through the bowls, they are filled with a soft iridescent glow.
Throughout last month’s DesignTO festival, a cluster of Lee’s Geo lights were showcased in the window of Toronto’s Lumas Gallery. The display allowed passersby to appreciate the way that the sculptures looked different with the passage of time, admiring their delicate glasswork by day and their gentle illumination by night. Just like river rocks, the sculptures encouraged deeper reflection on the power of subtle evolutions.
What do a cosmetics brand and a luxury crystal company have in common? As it turns out, Marcel Wanders. Since 2010, the Dutch designer has served as the art director for Japanese skincare line Decorté. He is also a frequent collaborator of French crystal manufacturer Baccarat.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Decorté, Wanders spearheaded an exciting brand crossover event, designing a hand-crafted Baccarat crystal chalice that serves as a stand for a very special red jar of Decorté’s signature AQ Meliority Intensive Regenerating Multi Cream. As part of a limited edition of 999, each goblet is engraved with its own unique production number.
Defined by elegant curves and geometric cuts, the playfully ostentatious storage vessel walks the line between medieval antiques and modern geometry. For the cherry on top, Wanders tops the design’s lid with a red octagon — a nod to Baccarat’s tradition of placing a red crystal inside each of its chandeliers.
As the ultimate bathroom vanity showpiece, it’s a perfect reminder that age is meant to be celebrated in style. Sure, that may still require the occasional rejuvenating salve to soften a couple of wrinkles here and there. But if this is how good Decorté looks at 50, its skincare products must be doing something right. Beauty influencers, take note.
Discover a fresh trio of glass objects that strike a delicate balance between sculpture and functional craft.