Through the Eyes of Design Students

Looking back on 2020, we had the pleasure of working with a group of design students from Pratt Institute to interpret our brand and design intent through their eyes.

The collaboration started with conversations with Constantin Boym the chair of the Industrial Design department at Pratt, about how we could continue to build on the relationship between the two organizations. We wanted to focus on exploring the growing connection between product design and the handmade. The next step to getting this started was to partner with Dana D’Amico the professor of the special projects class, to create a design brief. Looking through the lens of the Simon Pearce ethos, the students would investigate form and function that would be appealing to a younger demographic.

Research started before the pandemic early in 2020, and we were able to have the Pratt class leave Brooklyn and make the trip up to Vermont and visit our facilities to learn first hand about our processes for making glass and ceramics.

We gave the students a tour and introduction to the brand at our flagship Mill location, and then visited many of the facilities of our Windsor location for an in depth explanation of how we make things. Matt McFarland and Neil Cockwill gave insights into our unique processes, and requirements to make an object into something we can produce. This input is crucial for students to understand in order to resolve a design concept so it can be made by master glassblowers or potters. Over the many months that followed, we transitioned the classroom to working virtually online with video conferencing.

The students had to quickly adapting to working from home, and were extremely resourceful with continuing to experiment with concepts off campus. As we did our virtual review of the class progress, the students revealed many very poetic refections on the natural landscape and rituals of use. This exploration lead to some very creative vessel concepts for glass and ceramics that they could see incorporating into their lives.

“These students really worked hard through a challenging semester and were very excited to share their work”, a quote from Dana. The concepts were refined into a final presentation that would be reviewed by a panel of judges.

In addition to Dana and myself, we were fortunate to have an amazing panel formed from New York museums. We were joined by Yao-Fen You, Senior Curator + Head of Product Design and Decorative Arts at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and Elizabeth St. George, Curator at the Brooklyn Museum. With the virtual final review, each student gave a concise overview of their semester work. After much consideration, the panel selected the work of Stephanie Chen for her nicely resolved reference to ice formations at the Mill in connection with the rise in whiskey+bourbon drinking.

Stephanie’s study of the waterfall influenced the tactile experience of the glass in the hand, and considering amber drinks like whiskey all played into how this concept came together.

We were delighted to see all the students hard work pushed through these very thoughtful concepts and look forward to future collaborations. We love to explore concepts for the home and build relationships with students. To further delve into exploring this potential we provide internships over the summer months so students can be engaged with all elements of creating and developing new products.

Benson Martini with the Vermont Ginger Cosmo


Design Highlights

While homebound for Winter Solstice you can enjoy shorter days, and longer nights mixing unique drinks in our handmade glasses. The Benson martini glass was created to inspire and enhance the experience of drinking cocktails from a unique barware vessel. The shape takes it’s cues from an appreciation for the proportioning of geometric elements. We feature this glass at our restaurant in combination with the Vermont Ginger Cosmo cocktail found on our menu. The glass makes a great gift for anyone on your list who would like to mix this wonderful cosmo at home.

Recipe for the Vermont Ginger Cosmo featured at our Restaurant at the Mill:

1 ½ oz. Silo Vodka

1 ¼ oz. Putney Simply Ginger liqueur

¼ oz. Cranberry Juice

Add all ingredients to an ice filled shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled Benson Martini glass. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger on the rim. 

The design evolved from a few drawings that explored the combination of the sphere and cone shape. We then perfected the proportions working with the glassblowers to create a beautifully balanced glass.

Sheltering at Home

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.

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Working from Home

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. 

A few Spring New Arrivals now available are the Coral Tealight, Vintner Wine Decanter with Marble Stopper, and the Sunderland Artisan Board made in Vermont.  We are now offering the Alpine Tasting Flight that is excellent for chilling beer on the soapstone base.  The perfect addition to outfit the home bar cart for any tasting event.

Keeping the Furnaces Turned On

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.  

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.

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.  

To see the latest items for sheltering at home please visit our website.

Link to the At Home Offerings

Try Our Take Out

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.

Link to the Simon Pearce Restaurant

 

The Waterbury Collection

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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.

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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.

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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.

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