Elements of Glass

elementswater_shot51_9.25.19-6884

Nature uses force to script matter, and we do the same to manipulate raw molten glass. We draw out of our methods of making glass, the elements that have distinct character, and the artistic imperfections that come from the hand, to realize designs, that are ‘real’ expressions. With the ‘Elements’ development, we saw an opportunity to focus on the connection between design and science, using the forms to represent the various states of matter. We interpreted these natural elements that surround us in New England, with seven one of a kind, sculptural pieces. Three of which are featured in the Montshire Science Museum, from September 2019 to March 2020. It is an opportunity for the public and for children to experience how glass is a transformation from sand to the transparent material we are all familiar with, but in new forms. 

elements_branch_shot_9.25.19-6905-edit.jpg

We believe that our craftsmen have captured a sense of wonder and beauty portraying natural elements in glass and by pushing glass to its aesthetic and technical limits. These shapes show a mastery of light through glass and brings us at Simon Pearce to the forefront of creativity and innovation, through a design collaboration with master glassblowers.

IMG_2704

Photo Credit: Montshire Museum of Science

The partnership with the Montshire Museum of Science started when Marcos Stafne and his team came to our facility in Windsor, Vermont, to discuss ideas around how the two upper valley organizations can cross-pollinate concepts and create something unique for people to experience.  They liked the Elements prototypes and were intrigued with the science behind glassmaking, and brought these two concepts together for an exhibit at the museum.  Sherlock and Katie, who create the exhibitions, evolved a wonderful way to interpret the glass Elements, revealing the process, and the science.

From the Montshire press release;

“For this collaborative exhibition, the Montshire partnered with Simon Pearce, a Vermont-based company specializing in handcrafted glass with a creative philosophy rooted in functional, sophisticated design. The Montshire Exhibits team worked closely with James Murray, Simon Pearce’s Vice President of Design, to create a beautiful experience in which science meets design.”

DSC_0835
Montshire Staff, shown here, from left to right: Katie Kalata Rusch, Matthew DiClemente, Anne Fayen, Loren Rutz, and Sherlock Terry.

All seven elements we prototyped are described below:

Fire

Fire

Fire is the element that transforms the other elements. Glassblowers also need fire to create the glass itself. They capture the gesture and movement of flames in glass. The item is sculpted with the energy and flair of a burning flame. Each piece turns out entirely unique and can be illuminated on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Dwight Yoder, Dave Osburn and Steve White.

Water

Water covers seventy-five percent of the earth’s surface. This design was specifically inspired by the rushing waterfall at the Mill. The glassblowers captured the expressive ebb and flow of water that changes throughout the seasons. It is a very difficult design to make and only a few Simon Pearce glassblowers are able to make it.  The development of this water vessel, and wrap technique led us to offer other lines using the wrap concept, such as the Waterbury and Echo Lake collections.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Mike Cushing, Mark Williams, Jason Tucker and Ray Thorburn.

You can find the separate blog post on this design here.

Wood

Wood is a pervasive element in New England, and is revered for the seasonal activity from chopping/limbing trees for firewood to handcrafting it into familiar objects. Here ‘wood’ is represented as a branch with truncated limbs, and a sandblasted hollow core. It is another difficult piece to craft, few glassblowers can capture the exact gesture and form. Wood is one of the five Chinese elements.  Each piece can stand on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jesse McComas and Anthony Wroton.

Infinite Space

A9F7744A-B73B-4AD2-9F89-7D2EA5CBDA1A

Infinite space is the mother of the other elements. It represents the void, or emptiness that is necessary to approach a higher spiritual being. It is the gesture of a figure eight and is a free-form sculpture, with subtle surfaces and requires a high degree of skill to get the symmetry right. Each piece can be illuminated on an LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jason Cole and Jeremy Bastille.

Earth

Earth element is about structure and foundation; in nature it represents all that is solid and nourishing, which also speaks to global environmental issues. The design intent is to represent the whole globe and the topography of total earth, and also the swirling dynamics of mixing of elements, which has been captured in the glass.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Mike Cushing, Mark Williams, Jason Tucker, Ray Thorburn, and Chris Rogstad.

Air

Air is a freeing and opportunistic element. The form represents the swirling forces of wind, similar to the aerial view of cloud formations of the weather, while also having an open center for a connection with infinite space. In glass, flat disks can be difficult to achieve when compared to shapes with more mass and volume, so this shows the control and skill the glassblower. This piece is displayed in a specially crafted metal stand made by Jan Mollmark.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Perry Schwab and Ryan Adams.

Metal

Metal represents both rigidity and flexibility; being a protective element it is strong but very adaptive to change. Metals are found in nature and in man-made structures, such as suspension bridges and other feats of engineering. The sculpture was created in clear glass with an infusion of silver leaf, to further highlight the connection to the metal element. It can be illuminated on a LED base.

The glassblowers who worked on this piece are Jake Cole and Jeremy Bastille.

You can read more about the Montshire Museum exhibit in this Valley News Article.

Time to Reflect on Design

Travel Notes from Paris

D1FD9085-2B1E-4656-94FA-7F846CDAD09C

Every September, the European home design industry returns from their summer break in August to present the best of their new creations at the International Maison Objet show in Paris.  The market is focused on home decor, interior design, and lifestyle concepts, with a very inspiring combination of innovation and new talent throughout the halls.

Simon, Jay and I traveled across the Atlantic to walk the market, meet with some of our partners,  and find new resources or makers we can potentially work with on products. The show also gives an opportunity to spend time discussing, brainstorming and sketching out our approach to design for the next season.  We debate over what can be integrated into our product categories, what new ideas we can bring into existing collections, and where we could layer on new decor concepts.

9B1E9D6B-05B0-4730-B388-6C6783555B57

“The market gives you a perspective on what is happening in the world with design, and home furnishings, and we distill what makes sense for our line, whether we are buying or designing”, says Simon.  Maison Objet also gives us a sense of what direction glass is heading in, and in a world with the majority of the glass being machine made, we find we are well differentiated with the ‘hand’ being the core value of what we do. We further defined our design mission while traveling. We monitor what is happening in the market but take a great deal of  inspiration from nature, and we blend that with our humanistic approach to design and making things. To capture the essence of our designs, we use a reductive approach of taking away that which isn’t needed to arrive at refined simplicity. The intent of the designs is to amplify the handmade aspect of our products, resulting in objects that are a joy to live with at home.   

0C8DD21F-A7A4-4984-881C-E31DB4718E7F

One takeaway from the show was a growing interest in the handmade with small batch production, and a traceability story about the materials.  We found a few other European glass makers, that Simon truly enjoyed talking with, from building furnaces to raw materials used. Glass has also become quite pervasive, as a material of choice for designers.  

58760E0B-0EBB-4B55-8A4E-10186EB73E17

During the market, all across Paris, the whole city was celebrating ‘Design Week’, with interior design events and companies launching their latest products in their retail outposts. 

IMG_3525

We had the opportunity to meet with our Italian linen partners, Bertozzi, and reviewed several new designs that they worked on with us, and also some new offerings they created.  Their hand block printed patterns are one of Simon’s favorites. While travelling through Morocco Simon discovered Bertozzi linens at one of the hotels he was staying at. When Simon returned from the trip, we pursued the company and since developed a great partnership with them as they have a similar ethos, with the handmade approach to their products.  

New concepts from the trip will appear in our Fall Holiday season of 2020.

Finding the Twist

Screen Shot 2019-05-15 at 8.43.09 AM
“Like anything we create, the ideas go through phases of distillation until we happen upon something we love.”  -James Murray

The simplicity of the Woodbury line, finds it hallmark characteristics in the pursuit of trying to produce an object that is geometric, yet handmade.   The brilliant glass of the original Woodbury vase appears to be rectangular but have soft surface changes and a gentle radius that forms at the rim.

WoodburyVases
Simon started the vase design back in 1990, and it has proved to be a favorite, and is an icon within our collection.  The original intent of the Woodbury line was to form squares and rectangles in glass that bring some beauty and pragmatism to everyday life.  On the glassblowing floor, while making these items he discovered that the glass flows in it’s own way to form more humanistic surfaces and curves.

Blog post on the full Woodbury glass line here.

In our design studio, we explore ways to continue these concepts of working with geometry and organic soft execution in glass.  While experimenting with ways to re-interpret the rectangular vase, we did some bristol paper models, creasing the center, and adding water to it to soften the paper in the center to form a twist.  The result was intriguing, and so some renderings of the idea followed to further investigate what the effect could be.

We thought this had potential and brought the concept to the glassblowers, who then spent some time trying to capture the nuances of this idea. They ultimately found that heating the center with a torch made the vessel more malleable and they were able to achieve a light gestural twist effect that we loved.

04_02_2019_SimonPearce_Day_01_Woodbury_Twist_Vase_035 edit

A visual benefit of the fluid twist in the vase, is that it obscures the stems and branches of flowers, while marrying nicely with the artistry of arranging flowers.

Find the Woodbury Twist vase in the website store here.

 

Designer James Murray featured in Surface Magazine

portrait
James Murray pictured above, full article in Surface Magazine here.

“Whether ideating biomorphic chandeliers or sleek barware sets, the glassblowing aficionado searches for exciting new ways to honor Simon Pearce’s ethos of combining character with function.” -Ryan Waddoups

Some of the featured Simon Pearce products below.

alpine

“I’m most excited about Alpine, my soapstone and glass barware collection. The soapstone elements can be frozen, and once chilled, can keep drinks cold. It’s been well-received and demonstrates how uniting different materials can be a great source for new design concepts.” -James Murray

As the weather turns warmer, and we look for ways to stay cool, sipping chilled drinks can do the trick.  Ice is the usual cooling element, but if you don’t want to water down your drink we propose using frozen soapstone, paired with our handcrafted glass as an optimal way for tasting drinks, particularly bourbon.

The Alpine Collection was also featured on this blog here and on our website here.

vine chandelier

“The Vine chandelier is a new direction for Simon Pearce—we can combine glass in near-limitless combinations with metal for lighting.”

In partnership with the Modern American Blacksmiths of nearby Hubbardton Forge, this handcrafted light fixture is designed to illuminate your dining table, kitchen island or entryway in beautiful hand-forged metal and handblown glass.

The Vine Chandelier was also featured on this blog here and on our website here.

Future development in streamlined, glass-handled bar tools, prototypes shown above, also mentioned in the article.

Check out the full article in Surface Magazine here.

Shaping the Wine Tasting Experience

Introducing the Vintner Collection

 

“We set out to build a glass line with characteristics that are designed for the serious wine taster.” -JM

Last May, Jay Benson, Dana Sabatino, and James Murray ventured on a trip to the California wine country to visit tasting rooms and meet with wine producers we are considering for partnerships. Being inspired, we came back to Vermont and created new stemware to appeal to people serious about wine tasting, and lovers of thin, hand-blown glass that enhances the tasting experience, without having a glass that overtakes the wine, in weight and physicality.

 

The pulled-stem technique that we use, results in a thinner, more lightweight stem and bowl typical of a classic Sommelier’s glass.  The thin stem and base offer functionality and grace.

 

The line was designed with modern proportions, taking cues from our Bristol red wine glass in form.  The glasses are generously scaled to show off the wines within.

There are many options of wine tasting glasses by European makers that are machine made, and have a seam on the stem.  The Vintner Collection from Simon Pearce does not have seams because we hand-craft each glass.

p1200234

The thin bowl of the glass is designed to have a lot of volume, and room for air to circulate with the wine, and yet not be heavy. Ripple lines of our handcrafted process still appear in the bowl of our glass, different from machine made glass by other wine tasting glass companies in the industry. Our bowl shapes are ideal, and relate to how quickly  we want the wine to pass into the taster’s mouth, which effects the experience and flavor.

 

An additional benefit of the thin base, is that it is easy to swirl the wine while holding the foot, during a wine tasting.

vintnerstemware_shot11_10.24.18-2870-edit.jpg

The Vintner Collection is sure to please anyone looking for the “whole wine tasting experience”, with the refined balance of the preferred wine in a high quality hand-crafted glass.

The Waterbury Collection

dsc4845.jpg

In design, we continue to be inspired by the natural surroundings here in Vermont. The immersion in Nature easily influences our perspective on developing objects, as the natural elements are filled with interesting forms, textures and colors.  When we consider a new glass line, we strive to capture the artistry that comes from the handmade formation of glass, and the impressions that Nature makes on us.  Fluid and malleable glass is almost unlimited in the possibilities of what can be achieved, and we impose our ideas and reflections on it.

While hiking the Waterbury Trail, we happened upon a small waterfall, and were stuck by how the element of water is always a delight for sense of sight, sound and touch. We also ventured to nearby Moss Glenn Falls for a more dramatic experience.  We  wanted to capture the essence of water flowing and the swirling textures that occur in a new glass.  We started R&D of the glasses based on sketches, but looked to the glassblowers to turn out each glass with a unique interpretation of the watery impression.  Each glass captures a moment in time, with an artistic gesture.

p1180016.jpg

The collection started with a tumbler, and then we scaled the same design up to a hurricane shape, which looks incredible with candlelight going through the swirling effects.

To compliment the tumbler, we created a carafe with a simple elegant form that lends itself to the layering process of gathers to create optic effects.

waterburylamp_6.27.18_SP.jpg

Thinking about lighting, and the interaction with gathered glass effects, Simon created the Waterbury lamp in two sizes, to compliment the collection.  As the glassblowers work with these voluminous shapes, the layered effects of the double-gathered glass give a feeling of water movement that is visually stunning.  The lamps come to life when you see the light going through the glass, much like the dynamic impression from the streams and waterfalls of Vermont.

P1170768

 

 

Chestnut Hill Store

We are pleased to open our 10th store today in our new Chestnut Hill, MA location. This store opening was made possible by the collaboration of key people with many different specialties, here at Simon Pearce. With this essential teamwork across departments, we have set a new bar for ourselves with this beautiful retail experience.

IMG_2019

The store reflects a new direction of design, that takes people on a journey to discover a unique connection to us through glass and pottery.  Our main intention of the store design, is to welcome the customers to explore the world of handcrafted excellence, and bring the essence of the Vermont landscape that inspires us to Chestnut Hill.   

IMG_7435

Overall, the store has a warm natural contemporary feel, with beautiful real materials of solid wood, wrought steel and earthy tones that are used throughout the main retail floor. It appeals to the customer that appreciates a humanistic approach to design, with a blend of our two important core concepts: exquisite iconic products and simple practicality to be enjoyed everyday. The product presentations are intended to inspire with dynamic displays and make shopping easy by categories.  The planning and product development teams mapped out the store with focused planograms.

A copper-top bar, similar to the large one we have in our flagship Mill will highlight our barware, and connect back to Vermont.  We are featuring a pair of our recently launched vine chandeliers that make a focal point in the center of the store. They show a new dimension of what we can do with our glass and the element of light.

8634_vine_chandelier_dark_smoke_web

IMG_4309

In the front of the store we installed a large scale video screen, that reveals the mastery that goes into our products, with the artisans that make them. 

img_75291.jpg

The retail team, lead by Dana Sabatino, VP of Customer Experience, coordinated efforts to outfit the store and finesse the product displays.

The store fixturing is an assortment of furniture designed specifically for this new location.  The combination of solid walnut and burnished steel create a streamlined aesthetic for the retail floor.  Jan Mollmark built the illuminated shelving units throughout the store, that feature our quintessential glass and pottery.

From drawing to reality.

We partnered with Andrew Pearce to have the pieces hand-built here in Vermont, at his facility in Hartland. Andrew and his team worked over the span of many weeks to refine the construction details for both the steel welding and wood, to finish it all under one roof. The result is an elegant group, built to last.

The new store design features a separate studio space in the back that highlights our handcrafted pendants, and lamps with a table in the center, where interior designers can meet with clients. 

IMG_7449

IMG_4490

The studio is also conducive to the Gift Registry, where customers have this work table on which to create their ideal place-setting, or to choose the personalized assortment that they would want to have in their home.

rt

The retail team has opened the doors!

“The new store is fantastic; awesome job by all. Thank you.”       -Simon Pearce

Every Dog has its Year

Lab_FINAL_SpringSupplement2018-315

The all-new sculpted glass dog is close to the heart of many of us here at Simon Pearce. Dogs are intelligent, loyal companions that are with us through thick and thin. They are treated like a member of the family, and a few of us bring our dogs to work, which adds another dimension to the workplace.  To commemorate this special relationship, we set out to create the ideal interpretation of the quintessential dog that relates to our methods of making glass. The design started with some sketches, and we had a Labrador Retriever pose as our model.  After several drawings and iterations in clay, we landed on the character we wanted to capture in glass. The final design stays true to our ethos of beauty and simplicity.

 

 

With 2018 being the ‘year of the dog’ (according to the Chinese Zodiac); we couldn’t think of a better time to start crafting these in our hot-shop, and make them available for the glass enthusiast.   Our brilliant glass shows off the exquisite surfaces and contours of the shape.

IMG_3062

The iconic glass dog is a joy to have and to hold.

doghands

 

Fire & Ice: Alpine Soapstone

P1180255

As the weather turns warmer, and we look for ways to stay cool, sipping chilled drinks can do the trick.  Ice is the usual cooling element, but if you don’t want to water down your drink we propose using frozen soapstone, paired with our handcrafted glass as an optimal way for tasting drinks, particularly bourbon.

With the popularity of our Ludlow collection, we thought the soapstone could take the place of the wood, and once we tested some samples of this new combination we were delighted to find the stone truly chilled the glass. Take it from the freezer, and it can cool your drink in about 8-10 minutes, and conversely, can be used for warming drinks as well.

Throughout New England, soapstone is a common material found on kitchen counter-tops, which are known for their durability, smooth touch, and low porosity.  This ancient natural stone, is the result of volcanic geological formations from long ago. It’s most notable properties are that it can stay cold or hot for a long time. The material is very unique for its workable characteristics, and can be sculpted as the Inuit would, and also made it into a variety of functional designs.  We named it Alpine after the northern ridges we have here in Vermont and New England.

IMG_3058Screen Shot 2018-03-07 at 4.41.56 PM

Experience how this unique stone can chill your drink as it cradles the glass. 

Whiskey Glass / Whiskey Glass Set / Wine Chiller

See the feature in the New York Times: here

Celebrating Everyday Moments

Simon Pearce Engraving

Final_SpringSupplement2018-282

Tell your story.

The flat rim of our best selling Celebration Bowl was designed to showcase engraved sentiments of all sorts, making it the go-to for those milestone moments.

138A7070
Behind the scenes engraving.

Its strong, tapered base rises to a flat, flared rim that’s purpose-built for engraving.

138A7090

New Celebration designs inspire even more ways to etch good times in glass.

 

138A7043
Celebration Tealight

Highly customizable, perfectly functional and designed to go with any décor – stock up on one of our best selling gifts.

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 9.11.26 PM

Watch as one of our artisans creates the canvas on which so many of life’s momentous occasions have been marked.

Celebrate in Style.