Upon entering “Abrakadabra,” the WonderGlass exhibition at the Istituto dei Ciechi, I was overtaken by the undeniable whiff of nostalgia. It felt like a throwback to Milan Design Weeks past, when the biggest ensemble exhibitions (think Bisazza’s collaborations with stars like Jaime Hayon and Andrée Putman, or Swarovski’s over-the-top odes to chandeliers) took unfettered delight in opulent form-making. The beauty was the point.
A shimmering installation of glass veils — Elisa Ossino’s Venetia, made with Murano glass tiles “obtained by fusion, perforated and bound together by transparent threads” — set the scene.
Based in the U.K. and Italy, WonderGlass commissioned a who’s who of bright talents — Elena Salmistraro, John Pawson, Bethan Laura Wood and more — to create marvelous works that put glass (whether blown, fused or cast) to novel application.
Perhaps the most delightful of all was Paul Cocksedge’s Wonder. This trompe l’oeil pendant presented in triplicate by the British designer, who is always secretive about his techniques, seems to be moulded in lollipop hues, when in fact it is clear: It’s the luminous screen behind it, coupled with sleight-of-hand light refraction, that imbues it with vivid colours.
With pieces by Elisa Ossino, John Pawson, Paul Cocksedge and more, WonderGlass’s Abrakadabra show during Milan Design Week 2023 was an ode to the beauty and magic of glass.