Monday, September 20, 2010

Vases Loaded

Very quickly I wanted to link to a nice blog post written about my Art & Architecture Tour of Lincoln Center. I can't really pat myself on the back over it: Sims works for LC. He can't very well say anything too negative about the tour. Of course my tour is awesome, so I'm sure it wasn't difficult to find good things to say about it. Anyway, it was interesting to see what he remembered most.

That's not what I wanted to talk about, though. I wanted to show some things from Moser Glass that I spotted at the ICFF.
Ludwig Moser founded the company in 1857, and they hail from Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, which is sort of smack in the middle of the triangle formed by Prague, Dresden, and Richard Wagner's headquarters, Bayreuth.

Unfortunately I need to say that this was the website I found quite a bit less than inspiring, although perfectly nice to look at. For my purposes, I found it very awkward to get around. Every movement I made seemed to require a reload of a web page and constant backpedaling. The photos of their products are so small that they're hardly worth browsing. To be fair, this extremely high-quality cut glass is certainly better seen in person, anyway, where one can fully appreciate its weight, clarity, and the way it catches light. Their contact person was also very nice, very helpful, and quicker to respond than most. Having experienced the whole range of possible responses to email queries, I can sincerely say I place a lot of value on that.

Having been around for well over a century, they not unexpectedly have some very nice traditional work that's been treasured by royalty and heads-of-state all over Europe. In fact, they're quite proud of their clients and list on their website the kings and princesses who have owned the various collections over the years.

While I liked tracing their evolution into the modern age, from about the 1910s to the late-1920s, it was in 1934 that I noticed something that really grabbed me. It's a collection called simply "Bar" from 1934, designed by Rudolf Eschler:

The four wide facets of the base and the gentle curve of the vessel make this so serene and sophisticated. More than that, although it's seventy-five years old, I think no one would be at all shocked to see this in a store today. There's something wonderfully timeless about the design.

Leaping quite a bit forward to 1998, here's a vase called "Ikebana," designed by Lukáš Jabůrek, who I believe is their most promising designer:

[On a side note, I'm about the least linguistically xenophobic person you'll ever meet, but I have no idea how the Czechs can get anything typed at all, with all those diaereses, circumflexes, carons, and tildes over every other letter.] This is also offered in a version with vertical facets that curve up from the bottom to the top. There's something beautifully chemistry laboratory about it. Things like this always strike me as being somehow naturalistic in a very subtle, even subconscious sort of way. But it's also taking great advantage of the medium of cut glass. It uses the materials to create an intense optical experience and manipulate the quality of light hitting it.

Two years later they unveiled "Gema" by Kateřina Doušová:

This is equally fascinating for the way it exploits the qualities of the glass, but adds color to the mix. The various different color combinations are also dramatic and very well chosen: icy blues, deep rich purples, firey yellows. Each of them is gorgeous in its own way, while being very different in character at the same time.

In 2002 they did something a bit more fun and clever. This is "Tipsy" by Jiří Rydlo:

I had seen these before, not at a trade show, but in some design store somewhere. At the time, I didn't take much of a closer look to note that they were by Moser. The more your guests drink, the more likely I can imagine that you're going to have liquor all over the table, but I still adore this concept. They're perfectly counterbalanced with the weight of a heavy glass base, of course, but can rock back and forth. Even just visually, they're uncommon and interesting. I would also think that the movement of them, as a group of people pick up their glasses and set them back down, would be delightfully festive. They're also available in a clear version, but I think the lens at the bottom of a matte glass would help emphasize its movement even better.

Getting back to Lukáš Jabůrek, most of the newer items Moser has out that impressed me were his designs. The rest of these are all his and all from 2009. First, the vases, here's "Balada":

This was where I started to see Moser as an adept competitor in the present design market, in addition to doing high-quality work. This is a great piece. It's a very simple relationship, but so well done. At the top, it's vertical, rigorous, formal, geometric, and restrained. The horizontal pattern at the bottom is in sharp contrast free, loose, casual, and almost organic.

The next three make up Jabůrek's "Comfort" collection, lens cut:

Very nice, although this one could probably have appeared just as easily in the 1950s or '60s.

Spool cut, which is interesting for a lot of the same reasons "Balada" is, though I think just slightly less successful:

Here the serious formality is set against something much more fun and playful, but I think just aesthetically I don't find it as satisfying.

And my definite favorite of the three, olive cut:

It's like he took the lens cut version above, got drunk, and started carving away at it. But it's more than that. The lines that swirl around the middle of it have completely distorted the whole vase as if you were seeing it in a fun-house mirror. There's something almost irreverent about this which appeals to me in the same way as Jaime Hayon's work for Baccarat. At the same time, it's utterly sculptural, dynamic, even futuristic.

Jabůrek also designed a couple sets of drinking glasses for Moser. Here's "Zero," which is extremely edgy and modern:

And "Galileo" which is some of the most suave and elegant glassware I've seen in a long time:

I'd like to point out that Moser specifically recommends against putting any of their pieces into a dishwasher. I don't have a dishwasher, anyway, much to my chagrin and ongoing annoyance (I very literally dream about having a dishwasher on a somewhat regular basis). The pin-point bottom of the champagne flute would be exquisite with the pale champagne color filling it up. However, if for some reason it were allowed to stand over night with the beverage still in it, it would be practically impossible to get clean the next morning. I'd never descend to living in squalor, but strict housekeeping is not one of my most reliable habits, so I have to consider these things. Regardless, they are visually stunning, and the soft, graceful curves of their stems would feel so perfect in one's hand.

©2010, Ryan Witte

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