Venice Murano Designs- The Story Behind Your Stuff Spring 2017 Winner
It was the summer of 2001. After becoming involved with Italian opera for a number of years, immersing myself in general Italian culture, and studying the language, I was ready to take the next step, visiting the great country itself. Nothing could have prepared me for the abundance of delights for both the senses and the intellect that greeted me. After a short but eventful stay in Rome, it was off to Venice, that splendid city immortalized by Thomas Mann in his famous novel, Death in Venice, which I’d read years earlier. In his words, a city “Half fairy tale, half tourist trap.” It was the fairy tale part that I’d dreamed of visiting for so long, and it didn’t disappoint.
An essential excursion of Venice is a visit to the island of Murano, where world renown glassmakers have worked for over 1,000 years in producing beautiful handmade glass items shipped all over the world. There, in Murano, I fell in love. As I wandered around the island, I visited stores lining the canals that invite the passerby inside to view a cornucopia of glass delights for sale. Nearby are the factories with eager representatives that “encourage” passersby to come in and take a look. There, the craftsmen are on view busily plying their art. The visitor can watch them design small, detailed glass horses, multicolored drinking vessels, or if one is lucky, a larger sized vase with the most intricate decorations. Then off to the factory showroom where hundreds, if not thousands of individual pieces, everything from jewelry and religious items, to vases and giant art pieces, stand before the visitor for sale. During my visit to Venice I was especially touched by the fact that these wares are made today exactly the same as they have for a millennium and more. I found myself in awe of all this art, particularly the beautiful vases, much in the same way one might be in awe of the works of art of Titian, Bellini, or any other of the Venetian masters.
Fast forward a decade. I’d spent most of my life in various creative fields, as a professional musician and a music teacher. However, at this point in my life something seemed missing. As an art lover I felt I needed to be closer to tangible creations, and even perhaps play a role myself in the creative process. I didn’t want to give up my music, but sought to find a balance between these artistic mediums. After some months of soul searching and contemplating, it happened. One day, while casually glancing at some books on the shelf, Thomas Mann’s novel, Death in Venice, again caught my eye. I recalled his words of its “fairy tale” quality. Quickly, my mind carried me to that great and celebrated island, Murano. All the elaborate vases, art pieces and exquisite jewelry flashed through my mind. Within a few days I had decided: My new career would be importing and exposing Murano glass art pieces to the larger public, sharing the sensations of the Venice I knew and loved with the greater world. There and then I purchased an Alitalia ticket direct to Venice from New York, to begin my exploration of the island of Murano yet again.
My goal was to try and inspire others in the way I’d been inspired. I craved to bring about a touch of the vitality, magnificence and splendor of both Venice and the historical continuity of Murano. I found my own creative streak finding fulfillment in becoming a conduit for appreciation of Venice, conjuring up its most resplendent history. My plan now was to devote myself to seeking out exquisite elements of beauty and color that hail the glory of Venice, from its earliest beginnings to this very day.
I walked the city’s narrow corridors, the warm Venetian sun on my face, the lapping of water against the banks of the canals. I overheard children laughing and playing in the piazzas, saw the smiles of the people, and I felt myself bursting with creative energy. So many ideas suddenly ran through my thoughts. I felt overwhelmed. Here in one of the most important centers of the Renaissance had lived so many great artists, architects, craftsman, names so well known, and others virtually forgotten. In my mind’s eye I saw masterpiece paintings and extraordinary buildings come to life. One cannot experience Venice and not be moved. I so wanted to share this truth with as many people as possible. The first night in my hotel room I hardly slept at all. Amid swirling color and design I sat at my desk and drew and drew eagerly, thankful for this opportunity to share my ideas with my colleagues, and also to show them to Murano designers themselves, who might help to bring some of my creations to life. There on that energetic night was the birth of what became Venice Murano Designs.
At our Company we strive to recreate a taste of Venice to the consumer. We’re proud of our stunning vases and other décor. Venice Murano Designs also has a line of Murano glass jewelry, various religious items, and smaller art pieces. Yet it is our magnificent vases that have become the focus of our business. We specialize in both classical and modern Murano styles. The millefiori design is a favorite of the classical style, and we feature numerous vases, candlesticks, art pieces, and even a set of ducks with this colorful design. “Millefiori” literally means “a thousand flowers,” and that name reflects the design’s colorful medley of many small glass pieces that appear as aerial views of many flowers. Millefiori was originally invented in ancient Roman but the technique was lost over time, rediscovered, only to be lost again. During the 19th century, an Italian glass and paste mixer named Vincenzo Moretti set out to rediscover the original technique, and after long periods of painstaking trial and error, he finally met with success. History had become alive again. His designs were made famous at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1878, and Murano, once again, became the center of the world of glass design.
The historical longevity of Murano glass was yet another inspiration. As a student of history, I was fascinated to learn not just about the artistic legacy of Murano, but also the social and political story of the famed island. Glass factories had existed on Murano Island since before the year 1000, but it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that glassblowing as we know it today was brought to a new level. In the year 1295, the Doge of Venice decreed that all of the glassmakers in Venice be moved to the Island of Murano that lay in the in lagoon beside Venice. It seemed that with so many glassmakers’ furnaces firing simultaneously in Venice, fires had become common, and often, many long rows of streets and houses were destroyed. Now upon the small island of Murano, the glass artisans stood guard with the secrets of their historical craft. Sharing of knowledge of these techniques with foreigners meant treason, or has been rumored, might even bring death. With time, Murano grew in importance and fame, its glass art exported far and wide across the world. The glassmakers themselves became so highly esteemed that they were given the privilege of carrying swords, and their daughters were allowed to marry into the aristocracy. Since then, the secrets of Murano have been passed down from generation to generation, up until our current generation, which devotes its life and art to this wondrous industry. Needless to say, Murano continues to be associated with the highest levels of elegance and craftsmanship. “Murano” has become a household name world over, its glass adorning museums, exhibitions, art galleries, even cafes, and more than anywhere else, in discerning people’s homes.
We originally sat down for months and worked on how to present both Venice and Murano to the individual, and add handmade beauty to the décor of our clients’ homes. Working closely with the current artisans of Murano Island we came up with a wide variety and selection of ideas. We proudly specialize in quality. Our aim is to bring our customers the highest-class fine décor that appeals wholeheartedly to the senses. All of our products are from companies authorized under the Consorzio Promovetro Murano, the official Murano glass consortium, and all come with proof of authenticity. Of course in the tradition of Murano, all products are handmade.
Again, I’m so proud and hopeful that this deeply felt message in describing my story of discovery will soon become your own story of discovery of Venice. Then I would have succeeded, knowing that I have accomplished a lifetime achievement. My inspiration has only grown, as Venice Murano Designs has demonstrated. We are now expanding, and selling our wonderful wares across three continents.
A note from Heath: “In order to maintain the exclusivity of our vases and decor we do not sell our pieces directly online. To receive the full Murano glass decor catalog by email send a request to email@example.com ”
*All “The Story Behind Your Stuff” contest winner stories and images are written and provided by the product designers/artists themselves. Please do not duplicate or redistribute without permission.