Blenko has been working with designers as a central part of its operation since 1947. It’s a practice born out of European hand glass factories that dates back to the industrial revolution. When I design for Blenko, I take part in a special back and forth between designer and artisan. I love the challenge of stretching the glassmakers’ abilities, I challenge them to develop new skills for new designs, but I also have to consider some practical limitations and the “feel” of the company. I want it to be new but it also has to be “Blenko!” Many times the desired shapes require the ingenuity of the mold maker, other times it’s the gaffer or blower who figures out how to produce the idea. These masters, and all the other workers at the factory are my heroes. They have dedicated their lives to making beautiful objects together. That’s a very honorable thing to do.
For more than ten years I was a freelance artist and designer for Rosenthal Glass und Porzellan in Germany. Based on and born out of the Bauhaus, this company developed and promoted all it’s products as the pinnacle of contemporary design. Other invited artists include Walter Gropius, Raymond Loewy, Salvador Dali and Vico Magistretti. Working as a young upstart, in the company of such greats at a place where good design was at the heart of everything was a formative privilege. When Henk Staal, design director first saw my work At the Royal College of Art and invited me to “come and play” for a week, I knew it was the start of something special. The company produced almost forty of my designs between 1980 and 1990. Several continued in production until 2004.