It might seem strange that an island on the often foggy and chilly Venetian lagoon should be the place chosen to capture the sun-warmed southern hues of the Amalfi Coast. But two things made the decision kind of inevitable for Carla and her talented designer niece.
One was the age-old expertise of Murano’s glassblowers, who still use traditional techniques and time-honoured natural earth, oxide and metal colorants.
The other was the fact that at the magic hour just before sunset, or on certain days when the tramontana wind turns the sky over Positano the blue of a baby boy’s blanket, the famous view from the terrace of Le Sirenuse over the cathedral cupola to Li Galli islands does have something in common with the colours of Venice as celebrated in the paintings of Tiepolo, Tintoretto or Turner. “I never get tired of that view”, Carla Sersale comments. “I love it when clouds on the horizon overlay the pale blue of the sky and merge into the sea… and I wondered if it would be possible to express that play of shades in glass”.
“Our strong point has always been colour”, says Piero Nason, one of the third-generation family members who currently work at the firm, adding “we offer 22 different shades of green alone”. Viola Parocchetti had been fascinated by one of the company’s existing lines, Fog, which imitated the effect of cloud lying low over the lagoon. However, these water glasses and carafes are in clear glass: add colour, and the ‘transparent’ part below the misty heights becomes vivid and gem-like, too intense for the delicate Positano skies that Viola and Carla hoped to render.
The solution was to create a milky-white base tone, only partially transparent, that acts, Nason says “to turn down the brightness and contrast” of the colour that gradually emerges towards the top of each item. Asked to reveal how this subtle ‘sfumatura’ effect is achieved, Nason laughs and tells the Sirenuse Journal that “it’s a trade secret”. But he will admit that, of the twelve maestri vetrai or master glassblowers employed by the company’s Murano factory, only two have the necessary skills to blow, shape and colour these glasses.
For Carla and Viola, the ethereal glassware line created by Emporio Sirenuse in close collaboration with NasonMoretti could only have one name: Aria, or ‘air’. Consisting of a set of tumblers, stem glasses, bowls and pitchers in blue, green, pink and turquoise – with the tumblers and stem glasses available also in white – the collection works original variations on shape as well as hue. The conical stem glass was inspired by a glass Viola’s father had picked up at a Milanese flea market, while the bulbous pitcher is modelled on old-fashioned Italian wine demijohns.
Aria is the first of a series of creative collaborations with designers and artisanal makers that Emporio Sirenuse will unveil in coming months. Among them is a small collection of women's swimsuits, bikinis, caftans and sandals created by British designer Emilia Wickestead, a jam session with US brand Tombolo – famous for making Hawaiian shirts hip once more – that has resulted in some very desirable shirts and cabanas, and an exciting meeting of minds with French illustrator and textile designer Louis Barthelémy. Watch this space for more details, and in the meantime, enjoy a change of Aria by taking a stroll around the Emporio.
The Aria collection was photographed in Murano by Sony World Photography Award winner Chiara Goia. In the video below, we have showcased some of the extraordinary shots by Chiara that we weren’t able to include in this post.
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