Filmed by Giacomo Cosua. Edited by Stephanie Trowell. Picture research by Roz Speirs. Pictures from Getty and Alamy.
Venice, a city famous for its glass. The glassmaking island of Murano across the lagoon, has its own museum. But Venice itself had no public place to display glassworks until 2012, when Le Stanze del Vetro was set up on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore.
Part of the impetus behind the museum's founders, David Landau and Marie-Rose Cahane, was a concern that the island's tradition glassmaking skills were under threat. Cheaper factory-made imports were damaging the market, and the island's foundries and workshops were in decline.
To coincide with the 2017 Venice Biennale of Art, the stone's throw is opening an exhibition of modern glass by a Ettore Sottsass, the Italian architect and designer. Sottsass was a great figure of Italian design through the 20th century.
Best known for creating the Valentine typewriter and founding the Memphis Group in the 1980s, where his vibrant postmodern work spanned from furniture to glass.
Sottsass represents something very ambiguously in between art, design and glass. I think that Sottsass got excited about glass for three reasons. One is being precise with forms, like the geometrical form. The second was confusing or melting two forms, sometimes three or four forms together. Transparency. And the third were columns.
He said, I started to avoid to do little vases or those traditional horrible object that Murano does, and I ended up to do sculptures. Is Sottsass an artist? Is Sottsass a sculptor? I think this show talks about it.
If the centuries old glassmaking tradition of Murano is to continue, there's no doubt that Le Stanze del Vetro will play an important part.