Listen to the conversation between Rosanna and VeniceM.

 

From the 8th Century onwards, Venice has been the site of the most skillful and beautiful glass-making in the world. Combining knowledge and techniques from both the Roman and Byzantine Empires, as well as from objects traded from the Orient, Venice and it’s glassmaking neighbour, Murano, are home to many glass-blowing secrets, traditions and techniques.
“Murano glass has an ancient history behind it; it was invented more than 800 years ago in Venice – but all of the blown-glass factories were eventually moved to the island of Murano because of fires that took place on the island of Venice, which endangered the city. So it is for this reason that Murano island came to be the glass-blowing district.”

VeniceM is the culmination of place, history, culture and craft. Established on the mainland in Treviso, which overlooks the islands of Venice and Murano, VeniceM was founded by two proud Venetians: Melissa Lundardi and Massimo Tonetto. Lundardi notes that, “We are originally from Venice, so we’re very fond of Murano blown glass. We were actually based on Murano Island itself for 5 years before founding VeniceM, so we have a lot of experience in this field: we know many things about the techniques of Murano, and we have introduced these techniques to contemporary manufacturing.”

 

Whilst Murano glass is blown using ancient techniques – made by hand, by eye and by feel -VeniceM’s designs reach a level of perfection that is more typically associated with contemporary, mechanical or even digital means of production. The Misty is a design that captures this duality, finding the point of tension between new and old, tradition and innovation, the crafted and the slick. A flawless glass sphere – rotund and regular – is suspended overhead, punctuated at its base with a flat, round, metal stopper, and pierced at the pinnacle with a slim metal tube.

The glass sphere is opaque and milky at the bottom, slowly – smoothly – dissipating to becoming crystal-clear at the top, like a thick morning mist that hangs in the air before gradually lifting – melted away by the rising sun. “This is a special technique that only the ancient murano glass masters know. The white colour is blown in the crystal – and when they blow to get this effect, they have to be so clever to know exactly how much to blow. To have this perfect ombre effect you have to have a certain material and a very particular way and timing of blowing. If you see this piece you think that it’s very normal to have these colours blending – but in reality it’s very difficult – say we do 100 pieces, there will be probably only 50 that work.”

The clean, simple and timeless aesthetic of VeniceM draws the old world closer to our contemporary one. In addition to continuing the traditions of the Murano glass masters, VeniceM frequently works in brass, achieving a staggering range of finishes – each of which alters the mood, the feel and the tone of their pared-back, elemental designs.

“One of our [greatest] strengths is working with metal, mainly in brass – for which we work with special Brass Masters. Our real strength is burnished brass, and we have an unbelievable catalogue of finishes … Timing is everything when you are working with these different finishes: if you leave the metal for 2 minutes or 3 minutes, the results will be very different [even in this very short space of time]. It’s not so much scientific – it’s by experience, and the manufacturer has such experience that he knows if he should leave a piece for 2 seconds,10 seconds or 2 minutes. It’s not a secret, it’s just experience – you cannot learn this at university.”

Polished surfaces – in gold, chrome and black nikel – offer high-voltage luxury thanks to their glossy, reflective look; matt black nickel has a modern, sculptural feel; delabré brass and copper have a subtle lustre and a warm glow; and antique copper, flecked and swirled with turquoise, adds a layer of complexity and a sense of history – of time passing.
There is a strong interplay between texture, quality, and the overall design in the work of VeniceM – with each element working in harmony with the others. The limited palette of simple, geometric shapes draw the eye to the finer details, focusing on the beauty of the surface’s patina, and the seamless interactions between metal and glass. “Usually I work with basic forms and shapes – rectangles, circles, squares. I like to work with these shapes,” says Tonetto, adding that, “I always prefer less than more.”

The Mondrian Glass Ceiling Lamp exemplifies VeniceM’s dedication to simplified forms. Named after the icon of minimal abstraction – the Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian – this composition comprises a number of slim, angular frames fabricated in metal, which intersect and connect at various points. A line drawing in three-dimensional space, the Mondrian is both linear and sculptural – and like the work of Mondrian himself, it’s effortless look requires great care and engineering.

Dotted along the stark framework are opaque white Murano glass spheres, whose generous, rounded proportions balance on the inner and outer edges of the frames. The composition shifts and evolves as one moves around it, offering different configurations of volume and line. A strict yet playful design, these precious glass globes add a sense of movement and joy – like the magician’s ball, they might roll, float or drift into a new position at any moment.
A sense of play is also present in the furniture that VeniceM designs and produces, particularly in their continued use of glass. Proof of their true understanding of the properties – and the potential – of glass, VeniceM often uses this material in counterintuitive ways: a single sheet of glass is bent in the middle to create a charmingly bow-legged base for the Wave Coffee Table. Topped with a paper-thin metal tray, the design’s restrained appearance belies the complexity of its making.

VeniceM’s mastery of metalwork has also been successfully translated into solid, ground-dwelling forms. The Serge Cabinet has been exquisitely engineered, with flat planes of metal interspersed with others that are in profile, which sit perfectly flush to create an elegant, undulating surface. A sophisticated play of light and shade, the Serge shares the same sense of dynamism as the lighting for which VeniceM is renowned. “Our [lighting] collections, in general, aren’t so much about giving light – they create an atmosphere, it’s a concept. And now we are combining this with the furniture, using the same materials to create an overall atmosphere or mood.”

The result of a strong vision – a dedication to quality, and a passion for materials and makers -VeniceM expertly creates a desirable atmosphere, and a comfortable yet modern mood. Uniquely placed to create objects of great beauty and integrity, VeniceM is in the heart of Italy’s furniture industry, where everything is made by hand and skills are acquired over a lifetime, passed down through the generations. VeniceM is part of this rich heritage – born into an atmosphere of history and family, skill and craft – which can be felt in each of their designs, without needing to shout. Each object is an invitation to marvel at its level of perfection – a feast for the eyes that takes contemporary form.

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