Glassware tends to be the unsung hero of our home. The dinner table especially. It is an integral part of our day-to-day life, whether it takes on the form of drinking glasses, jugs or a lovely vessel displaying freshly cut stems, yet often overlooked. While we love the elements which the focus usually falls to, such as the striking prints of tablecloths or the ceramic tableware serving the food – as we’ve celebrated some of our favourite potters here – now it’s time for the glass to shine and glisten in the light (quite literally) as we introduce you to these 15 glass designers and makers. Their mind-blowing work (pun intended) proves that glassware doesn’t have to be plain, but rather that there is room for creativity with fun textures, colours and patterns ensuring their pieces are the stars of every meal.
When returning to her native England after living abroad in South America and the Mediterranean, Catherine Maguire struggled to find colourful and sustainable homewares similar to those she had fallen in love with in those foreign lands. This has led to the birth of Casa Celva in 2020, Catherine’s brand of home accessories. While ceramics and textiles also make up a portion of the offering, the focus is on handblown glassware. The founder hand-picks and sources the glassware directly from small-scale artisans using traditional methods, including those from the famous Murano island in Venice, where glass-making has been a practised tradition and art form for more than a thousand years, producing the world-renowned Murano glass.
Having a background in sustainability and environmental management, Catherine puts a lot of importance on eco-friendly and ethical practices and working directly with the makers who make their goods in small batches ensures these values are in place. And even though the pieces are made by different artisans, there is an overarching aesthetic of a sun-soaked holiday escapism reflected in every tumbler and vase expressed through bursts of colourful speckles creating beautiful patterns when confronted by light.
Kate Mitchell Glass
Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Kate Mitchell trained for six years under fellow glass artist Luke Jacomb as his assistant to learn the ropes of glass blowing before further developing her skill set by attending workshops with master glass blowers on Murano island and in Seattle. That’s how the artist developed her unique technique and fun, vibrant aesthetic inspired by motifs from everyday life, whether it’s upside down smiley faces of her new Happy Hour tumblers, 70s-inspired confetti or a stylish terrazzo pattern.
Attracted to glass for its unique ability to transmit light and colour, its fragility and versatility, Kate’s love for the craft shines through every glass and vase that she hand makes in her glass studio in Avondale where she creates alongside other glass artists.
While many are at least vaguely familiar with the heritage of Murano glass-making, few have heard of the Bohemian crystal tradition centred in the mountainous Crystal Valley region of the Czech Republic since the 17th century. This is where Czech glassware brand Klimchi is based. While the workshop the brand operates in was built in 1905 by the same engineers who constructed the Eiffel Tower, Klimchi was founded only in 2019 by entrepreneur Lukas Klimcak, bringing a modern and youthful approach to a centuries-long tradition and methods.
In this relatively short time span, Lukas has managed to establish a global customer base and an instantly recognisable aesthetic, mostly owed to the popular vintage-inspired Hobnail range. Defined by a textured, hobnail-like outer finish, the jugs and glasses come in a wide range of hues from a translucent rose pink to solid black, achieved by blending in colour pigments during the melting process. Made under the creative direction of glass artist Frantisek Jungvirt, each piece is made by hand by skilled artisans using techniques passed down from generation to generation.
La Muerte Tiene Permiso*
La Muerte Tiene Permiso* is an online store based in the UK with the aim to bring original Mexican design to Europe. ‘Death has permission’ in translation, it might seem as a rather morbid name but Mexico has a completely different viewpoint on death, as demonstrated through the vibrant Day of the Dead festivities or burying their dead surrounded by the objects they treasured most in life in the pre-hispanic times. Founder and architect Omar Ortiz Franco wants to share and celebrate the historical practices and materials of his country as he works only with traditional family-run workshops across Mexico. And a large portion of the collection consists of drinking vessels made of recycled glass crafted in traditional workshops in the city of Tonalá in the Jalisco state northwest of Mexico City.
Omar dedicated two collections to the medium of glass – the original and more minimalist Nightlights of Mexico City available in four muted shades, and the newer Acatl boasting a more complex angular silhouette influenced by architecture and the ancient way of tying flowers or canes, coloured in bold tones such as red and lime green synonymous with Mexican culture.
Maison Balzac’s style can only be described as playful. Colourful beads decorating the exterior of a champagne coupe, glass fruit attached to the bottom of a wine or martini glass, vase’s curved side handles decorated with earring-like ornaments – these are all Maison Balzac’s imaginative signatures that make for a wonderful conversation starter at a party or around the dinner table.
Established in Australia in 2012 by Elise Pioch Balzac, the former fashion buyer calls her statement pieces ‘jewellery for the table’. And indeed, that is what they are as they transform even the most simple of table settings into a show-stopping set. But if you are after something a bit less extravagant, the Aussie brand will dutifully provide – whether you fancy the faint contrasting stripes of the Grand Soleil tumblers or the clean lines of the J’ai Soif carafe and glass set from Borosilicate glass inspired by Elise’s French background and the traditional drinkware found on most bedside tables in France.
Drawing on their family’s glass-making background, Elena and Margherita Micheluzzi are the design duo behind Venice-based Micheluzzi Glass created in 2019 with the intention of putting a contemporary spin on a thousand-years-old tradition of Murano glass. The daughters of a leading Venetian glass artist Massimo Micheluzzi, the sisters grew up in their father’s workshop surrounded by glass, developing a deep understanding for the practice since childhood and now continuing the family tradition with their creations.
The collection consists of vases and drinking glasses, both different from each other. While the vases are weighty pieces that are heavily textured with a variety of finishes, the glasses display a more lighthearted style of irregular, curved edges trying to capture the notion of movement, available in a wide array of colours.
While Petra Palumbo’s collection now also includes whimsical Delft tiles and homewares, the designer’s core offering that started it all back in 2018 is her original hand-painted glassware. The matching carafe and glass sets are still the brand’s hero product, created as a more aesthetically pleasing and sustainable alternative to a plastic bottle placed at one’s bedside table or work desk. Since then, jugs, single tumblers and water dispensers have joined the range, all decorated with various hand-painted floral motifs, each with its own meaning – from blossoming strawberries to wild lavender and Scottish thistle paying homage to Petra’s husband’s native land and the place she now calls home. Made with clear glass sourced from France, each piece is painted by UK-based artists using non-toxic inks.
Started in 2020 during Amsterdam’s first lockdown, RiRa is the brainchild of stylist Gijsje Ribbens and fashion agent Bart Ramakers focused on bringing cheerful objects into our homes in collaboration with artists and designers based in Belgium and the Netherlands. With a homeware range spanning painted mirrors, resin bowls, pillow chairs and more, glassware represents a large part of the brand’s offering. Crafted by hand by Dutch glassblower Nienke Sikkema exclusively for RiRa, the Addled range includes vases, short glasses and thick stem glasses, all displaying irregular, playfully child-like shapes, which is reflected in the collection’s name. The modern asymmetrical design comes in a range of translucent colours, from zesty green to rich brown, inspired by cola bottle sweets.
Sophie Lou Jacobsen
Brooklyn-based French-American product designer Sophie Lou Jacobsen brings pleasure and excitement to everyday rituals by elevating those items we use on a daily basis and making them into decorative, stylish objets d’art. Working primarily with borosilicate glass, Sophie established her design studio in 2019, shortly before releasing the Wave Pitcher that put her on the map. As the name suggests this functional object is defined by its often colour-contrasting wavy handle. Contrasting colour combinations are something of a signature for the brand as seen on other favourites such as the Bilboquet carafe notable for its striking spherical stopper or martini and wine glasses with contrasting stems and bases. Sophie’s penchant for soft curves as demonstrated by the handle of the Wave pitcher is also apparent in the likes of the Petal plates and Ripple glasses mimicking the rippling of water.
Stories of Italy
Endlessly inspired by the vibrant Italian culture and traditions which it strives to preserve, Stories of Italy has played a key role in shaping the contemporary glass scene in Italy. Established in Milan in 2016, the brand and design studio draws on the country’s vast source of Murano glass heritage. Known for its glossy speckled aesthetic, the brand provides detailed descriptions of how it achieves every pattern and finish, as well as how many artisans it takes to produce one such piece. Created under the creative direction of co-founder and former fashion designer Dario Buratto, every Stories of Italy vase, tumbler or bowl perfectly combines maximalism with minimalism – maximalism of colour and pattern and minimalism of shape.
The Glass Studio
Describing its brand aesthetic as ‘painterly’, the Peak District-based Glass Studio has developed an in-house marbling technique that makes its pieces stand out from the rest. Started by Janine Limb in 2021, the designs are inspired by the language of colour and colour combinations as Janine quotes the likes of artists Josef Albers and Emily Noyes Vanderpoel as influences. Having a background in design and communications for interiors and design brands, Janine confidently sketches out the brand’s range including vases, drinking glasses and candle holders, spending most time on developing the applied colour pairings, before passing them onto a team of master glass blowers in the British countryside that she partners with to bring her ideas to life.
Curio’s founder Olivia Thorpe has a clear penchant for nature and finds endless inspiration in it, whether it’s for her successful natural skincare company Vanderohe started in 2014, or her latest project – the glassware brand Vanderohe Curio. The London-based venture started in 2020 with a small line of speckled glass baubles which quickly sold out and led to a commission by none other than Net-A-Porter for an extended range of glassware.
Keeping the original colourful, speckled finish that creates a kaleidoscopic effect when hit by light and is now synonymous with Curio, what also didn’t change is the influence of mother nature on the design process manifested in organic, fluid shapes of the pieces, all free-blown in the UK without the use of moulds so that no two are exactly the same. The brand has become most known for its trademarked Pebble Stack® – decorative, pebble-shaped objects designed to be stackable to provide a similar meditative experience as when stacking pebbles at the beach or by the river – and the Dewdrop® vase, shaped to a spherical silhouette meant to resemble a glistening drop of dew topped with a curved, asymmetrical opening.
Established in Venice in 2008 by designer Marie-Rose Kahane, Yali Glass benefits greatly from the vast expertise available to the glass design studio because of its proximity to Murano island and the local glass-making maestros. The founder and her team feel honoured to have techniques dating back to the Renaissance times at their fingertips. But Marie-Rose puts her own modern spin on the tradition of the craft. Known for simplicity and clean, minimalist forms, Yali Glass crafts glassware that is timeless and understated, functional but elegant. Beauty and purpose go hand in hand here. One of the brand’s more daring and perhaps most recognisable designs is the A Nastro range, which includes everything from tumblers and jugs to carafes and plates. Translated as ‘tape’, the clear Murano glass is adorned with a contrasting spiralling line.
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in visual arts specialising in glass from the University of South Australia, Adelaide-based glass artist Danielle Rickaby went onto completing a two-year program at the Jam Factory glass studio. This was 2010 and since then, Danielle has started her own brand of glassware named Yo.Dan. Characterised by a bold style, vibrant colours and dynamic patterns, the artist finds inspiration both in her surrounding urban landscape and nature when crafting her handmade vases, cups and trinket dishes. Drawn to glass as a medium for its endless possibilities and its creative interaction with light resulting in stunning effects, Danielle’s work is notable for its cheerful statement colour combinations and captivating abstract patterns.
Founded in 2001 by Venetian designer Federico de Majo, fine glassware brand Zafferano aims to embellish and elevate the living spaces of its customers by applying the expert Italian design principles that the country is world-renowned for. Made by hand by master glassblowers, the designs are creative yet understated. That approach is employed in the likes of timeless wine-tasting stemware used by Michelin-starred chefs, refined by the subtle touch of a rippling effect at the bottom of the glass. At the same time, playful creations that are more out there make up a large part of the line. Crafted from clear borosilicate glass, tumblers are embellished with textured coloured pearls, large contrasting marbles at the bottom of the glass or a heel on the exterior attached to an asymmetrically shaped drinking vessel.