Designing Light and Air

The Garnered talks to esteemed glassware designer Deborah Ehrlich
The Garnered - Deborah Ehrlich Studio The Garnered 69B

- You have created an exquisite collection of glassware. What is it that makes your products different?

I think it is the close relationship between the designer and the artisan. Glass blowing is a very rare skill and with us it is being applied to a contemporary form, with a sculptor’s sensitivity in the design. There is a balance of respect – symmetry – when we work together. There is one glass blower in Sweden who smiles every time he makes something, and he has been blowing glass every day for 30 years. When people rise up to give their best, it always shows in the end product.

Some believe that design has to either be humorous or it has to challenge you, but that isn’t the case for me. I don’t want people to look at my work and say “Oh, that’s so interesting.” I simply want them to feel joy. 

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- Your crystalware is admired for its delicacy and refinement, yet you design for everyday use? 

Yes, crystal is actually very strong. Crystal is to glass as porcelain is to clay: it is inherently stronger. That is the beauty of it – you can go thinner whilst retaining strength. Because it is so delicate, it is easy to think it must be fragile – like a bubble blown by a child – but it isn't easily broken. We use these glasses everyday. 

- Is this why the glasses don't have stems? 

In part, but also it is because I love the high-low aspect. I wanted to design a glass without a stem, and still have the sense of lightness and occasion imbued into the form of the glass itself. 

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Murray Moss, the design curator has described your crystal as a behaviour modifier, what does he mean by that? 

Possibly that it elevates your awareness. Maybe being around something delicate can make you feel beautiful. My furniture maker [Ehrlich also designs furniture] says that I mostly design light and air, and I often feel as though the glassware resembles water frozen in time. I watch people melt when they pick the glasses up; I think it is this extraordinary, elemental quality that they are responding to.

The Garnered - Deborah Ehrlich Studio The Garnered 31B