With Winter Solstice upon us, we take every opportunity to enjoy the wintery wonderland as a source for new inspiration. A steady flow of ideas come from reflecting on this season, taking cues from nature for new evergreen trees, frosty decorative objects, and essentials to gather around the table. We transform what we see and experience into new glass objects to bring home and enjoy everyday. Our handcrafted glass is magical as it starts as a molten material that takes it’s form from the finesse and skill of the master glassblowers.
The organic shaped Burlington Collection’s plates and bowls have unique reactive effects in the glazing that are both casual and elegant. It can be paired with any of our glassware and flatware lines, but here we have it featured with our new Benson Tumbler and Warren Flatware.
The Benson tumbler evolved from the geometric design concept originating with the martini glass and it is universally useful for a variety of occasions. The Spruce tree is now offered in a new mini version that is a great gift or a nice addition to any beloved glass forest. Building upon our natural theme the potters created a great line of marbled clay vessels that are very unique centerpiece bowls and vases called Beachstone.
The new warren flatware is inspired by a teardrop shape, similar to the lamp in our lighting line. The streamlined flatware is 18/10 stainless steel that is cast and forged by skilled craftsman. Partnering with Bertozzi, we created new linen patterns for this winter. Our favorite is the naturally beautiful Ponderosa design with oversized pine needles in both a napkin and a runner. Another new addition is the shape of our classic evergreen trees as a beeswax candle in ivory, red and green. Lastly, a useful item for entertaining is the elemental Soapstone Chiller that can keep you wine cool or double as a mini ice bucket. Consider some of these new additions as part of your holiday celebrations as we officially head into winter.
A Collaboration with WhistlePig Yields a Unique Glass
We were very optimistic about this new design when we saw the final samples of the Shoreham Whiskey Glass come out of the glassblowing studio. After many months of hard work and collaboration, this striking glass grew directly out of a passion for handcrafted quality that both Simon Pearce and WhistlePig share. These two Vermont based companies were driven to perfect the whiskey and glass combination. We found the WhistlePig American-style rye, to be a quintessential pairing with our handmade glass.
The collaboration first started with an ideal bowl shape specified for optimal whiskey tasting and we evolved it with a softly rounded base that fits nicely in the hand. Simon himself said “the lines of this glass are simply beautiful”. The glass derives it’s name from the town where WhistlePig has a 500-acre farm and distillery. From the moment our glassblowers formed the glass and many hours later when it was cool to the touch, we knew that this is one of the best glasses we’ve created to enjoy whiskey.
Beyond straight whiskey drinking, the new glass is also great for chilled cocktails. As the August summer days go by this drink recipe is something we have highlighted at our mill restaurant, and is a refreshing one to try at home.
We recently introduced two new exclusive designs for artisanal hammered stainless steel serving bowls. They are the perfect accessory for outdoor entertaining this summer. The silhouette is inspired by the metal vessels employed for scales you will find in general stores throughout New England, typically used for weighing provisions. The overall fluid form also takes its cues from the organic design direction used with a variety of our marble and wood accessories.
The medium bowl is specifically designed and scaled to double as a chiller to hold a wine or champagne bottle on its side resting in ice. The spout rim of the bowl holds the neck of the bottle. The delightful small bowl can be a nut, dip, or appetizer serving bowl to accessorize a bar or for entertaining around a table.
Take a break from the summer heat of July, with a wonderful chilled cocktail in the Woodbury Bourbon glass. We recently extended the infamous Woodbury collection with this smaller cousin of the Woodbury Double Old Fashioned. The barware design characteristics are distinctly different from most other lines with the hallmark chilled textures, round to square detail and the heavy base. This bourbon glass is the perfect size for sipping bourbon, enjoying a mixed cocktail or simply as a juice glass. It was originally drawn up while traveling in Paris where Simon and Jay Benson started brainstormed new ideas for drinking glasses.
The Blackberry Bourbon Sour; featured at our restaurant, and you can try it at home with this recipe:
With current events impacting us all so deeply, we collectively discover ways within ourselves to embrace the unexpected. We find comfort and positive support through togetherness. We explore a new path forward and enrich our lives while sheltering at home. We find more meaning in gatherings especially around the table whether at home or virtually.
We yearn for a warm cozy atmosphere and strive to cultivate a sense of safety and serenity taking hints from the danish concept of Hygge. Well being is key, while optimism and finding balance in our lives helps uplift us throughout each day. A new normal evolves, and a homebound routine incorporates virtual meetings with colleagues, while the home office becomes a dynamic hub of activity.
We seek interaction and connection with family and friends to compare notes on ways to feel good, be healthy, share recipes and stay nourished. As we navigate these times a new appreciation for the things around us emerges as we curate a sense of what we want in our home environment. While embracing the change we can still celebrate life’s holidays, birthdays, milestones, and make things work for us at home. Entertaining can be a source of joy by sharing botanical drinks, creating craft beer tastings, wine & cheese, or sending invites to a virtual happy hour.
Look for What Speaks to You
Throughout our Simon Pearce line, we have many of the quintessential handmade elements available to make those home moments special. Our drinkware collections contain a fine selection of beautiful and functional items you can use to curate your home. Having the time to pay attention to details, you can appreciate the nuances of the handmade.
At Simon Pearce, we have adapted to the new paradigm and are continuing to practice our craft. Our ethos of ‘handmade quality’ drives us forward and everything we make is a unique expression of humanity.
Puppy on the Glass Floor
The hand is involved in every step of bringing each object to life. We hand draw, and model concepts, like the dog and the new puppy then work out the details on the glass floor with the expertise of our glassblowers. Each object is a combination of the hand of the maker, the form, the fine quality of the material, and that is blended with our distinct ‘point of view’ about design.
Hand Thrown Pottery
These elements cannot be separated. Our passion for handmade excellence permeates everyone in the company with ‘purpose’. We love to share what we create, because we are confident it will make these times spent at home, that much better.
Bristol Red Wine & Decanter
To see the latest items for sheltering at home please visit our website.
If you need a break from cooking in your kitchen, and you are in the Upper Valley, the Simon Pearce Restaurant has a new menu with delightful dishes of ready to heat dinner. Jerod Rockwell is running the kitchen for take out which can be picked up with curbside service.
We are pleased to be serving our devoted customers and connecting with new ones, in the Philadelphia area with our 11th store bringing us into the region with a fresh new approach. Following on the heels of opening our Chestnut Hill Store, just over a year ago, we completed the interior construction of our new Ardmore store, just in time for the holiday Black Friday shopping rush. To make this go from concept to reality, we had an incredible team that made the opening of the store possible, with staff contributing from every department in the company. Our company is united by a culture that is dedicated to providing a “wow” shopping experience.
Quote from our press release;
“The Ardmore store will invite customers to explore—or perhaps discover for the first time—our glass and pottery collections,” said James Murray, Senior Vice President of Product Development + Design. “The shop’s warm, contemporary interior and displays take a cue from our flagship location in Vermont; by referencing that historic building and vibrant makerspace, we hope to bring the spirit of handcraftsmanship to our newest location.”
Deciding on the best location is key, and Jay Benson, our CEO, researched and evaluated the marketplace to find Ardmore to be an optimal destination.
The design process started with imagining the type of space and feeling that takes cues from the experience of the Mill in Quechee, Vermont. We developed a material selection of complimentary, beautiful, real materials, that include walnut shelves, white oak flooring, wrought steel, walnut fixtures, and clay inspired earthy paint tones, that are used throughout the main retail floor.
Illumination is a key element to showing the characteristics of our iconic glass products, so we employed built-in LED lighting technology into all our fixed shelving. To really make our evergreen trees glow, we built the lighting into the surface of the shelves so trees are illuminated from underneath. The overall concept of the store was then rendered to capture our fresh aesthetic, that appeals to the customer that looks for our humanistic approach to design.
We utilized our retired wood molds from blowing glass, to create a textural wrap around our main counter. Neil Cockwill, Director of Forms, carefully selected and collaged the molds together, at our facility in Windsor, Vermont. We also feature our vine chandelier over the cash wrap counter as a focal point. We contracted Andrew Pearce to build a series of walnut and steel furniture, for us to use in cross merchandising statements.
The store design is featuring a separate studio space, in the back, that highlights our handcrafted pendants and lamps, which makes it easier for interior designers and customers to make buying decisions from our lighting collection. Our contractors worked quickly to demise the space, and go through the process of re-configuring it to suit our needs. They created the lighting studio out of a prior stock room by taking down walls, and rebuilding it into a useful space. The shelving around the store was custom built for us and they house all of our core products, delineated by their category.
Kathy Marshall, Creative Integration Manager, on the planogram:
“The product assortment for Ardmore is curated to include top performers and new designs, based on the store size. Within this framework, we assign categories of product to specific fixed shelves and dynamic displays, as well as carefully considering the placement of the product to make shopping easy.”
A few weeks before the store opening, a group of us visited the store location as the construction had begun to check on progress and interview candidates to work at the store.
Jen Smith, our new VP of Retail, started in July 2019, joined us after a long tenure at Crate & Barrel, rallied the retail team for an incredibly organized and quick opening.
“We had so much fun opening the Ardmore store – it was a fast and furious process! In just 3 days, we unloaded and unpacked 16 pallets of product and set the displays. It was a small, but mighty team! Opening in the busy holiday season meant that everyone had to be flexible and efficient.”
“Huge shout-outs to: Stephanie and Amanda, our warehouse managers, and the shipping team at our Oakland, MD facility, John and Josey, who delivered the product the moment we got the green light. Jackie, Retail Operations Project Manager, who coordinated all of the scheduling, travel, logistics and supplies for the store. Jeff, Field Visual Merchandising Manager, who set up the store visuals while training the new staff every step of the way. James and Kathy, who came up with the vision for the store and created a detailed and thorough planogram for execution. And our planning team who pulled the product from our warehouse to merchandise during the busiest time of the year!”
“Michael, the store manager, and Emily, full-time sales, had come up to Vermont for orientation, so they were immersed in the Simon Pearce culture, the Vermont way of life, and have a whole new appreciation for the artisans who create our product. They, along with our part-time sales associate, Colleen, have welcomed returning customers who remember our brand from Brandywine, and introduced new customers to Simon Pearce.”
From our founder, Simon Pearce:
“I started making glass because of the human quality you find in real handmade glass. One of the best ways to share that experience is to put the product directly into the hands of our customers. Opening a location in Philadelphia gives us the opportunity to better share our story with an important market for us.”
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.
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.
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.”
All seven elements we prototyped are described below:
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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
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.
bowl rendering in chalk
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.