Liquid Fusion 2014: Design Explorations in Glass Workshop

Today’s post comes from Paul Haigh, architect, designer, educator, and founder of HAIGHArchitects+Designers.

photo ©Carlo Cialli : Liquid Fusion 2014 Group

photo ©Carlo Cialli : Liquid Fusion 2014 Group

This year’s ‘Liquid Fusion’ workshop represented the ninth year of international cooperation between The Corning Museum of Glass and the Domaine de Boisbuchet international workshop program in Lessac, France.

Each year between June and September, the most innovative exponents in the fields of architecture and design share their creative process with students in practice-based workshops that have been developed specially for Boisbuchet and integrated into the splendid setting of the 19th century estate. The workshop program is organized and run by the nonprofit organization CIRECA, the Centre international de recherche et d’éducation culturel et agricole, in cooperation with a worldwide network of cultural partners and sponsors.

The hands-on, free-style and interdisciplinary workshops attract curious, ambitious and talented students and professionals from all over the world for an intense and unique period of research, exchange and enjoyment in a refreshing and inspiring environment.

photo ©Lucia Peluffo : Lewis Olson working on prototype for Gaëtan Kohler

photo ©Lucia Peluffo : Lewis Olson working on prototype for Gaëtan Kohler

‘Liquid Fusion’ utilizes the CMoG GlassLab portable container set up as a glassmaking prototyping studio. The workshop structure challenges designers to explore glass design through concept ideation, prototype fabrication and critical review. Daily design fabrication sessions are carried out by the accomplished glassmakers from the CMoG GlassLab team and are complemented by evening lectures and discussions.

GlassLab incorporates the technical expertise and resources of The Corning Museum of Glass, so many thanks go out to the program managers Steve Gibbs and Eric Meek and this year’s GlassLab team of excellent glassmakers and artists, Lewis Olson, DH McNabb, Amy Krüger, and Damien François. Many thanks also to Alexander von Vegesack, President of CIRECA, and the Domaine de Boisbuchet team, for their support and enthusiasm for design in glass.

This year, an accomplished group of twelve designers were immediately immersed in a design theme exploring the idea of the ‘natural or artificial’ as a starting point. During the intense 5 day workshop, over 120 prototypes were produced challenging the perception of memory of place, represented by the design of a ‘souvenir’ reflecting the Boisbuchet experience.

Primarily focused on glass materiality, initial designs explored the theme in the context of the intrinsic qualities of glass, i.e. transparency, translucency and opacity. Designers were challenged to explore glass as a rich palette for innovation and intervention. Emphasis was placed on the idea of “…glass as a liquid” in examining glass as an ancient material that can transform process into poetry.

This year’s group, of varying ages with professional and non-professional backgrounds, included product designers, graphic designers, urban planners, and architects from the Americas, Europe and Asia. For most participants, the workshop represented the first time they had designed in glass; for others, it presented the opportunity to assess glassmaking in the context of the design process. The idea of providing designers access to glass through a direct proximity to glassmakers is seen as fundamental to understanding the material and its potential applications in design and architecture.

The design sessions rotated throughout the day with each designer presenting concepts and drawings for review with the glassmakers on the fabrication of prototypes. Each morning a design review took place to discuss the previous days designs and refine fabrication issues in preparation for developing the next round of prototypes. This cycle of design development highlighted for each designer the significance of an empirical process and the demand for clear and precise communication of an idea from concept to object. This year, many designs, in exploring the natural or artificial, required the development of tools to achieve deformations and impressions within the glass.

At the final vernissage presentation, the prototypes were displayed as a gallery exhibit in the wonderful setting of the converted stables of Domaine de Boisbuchet. This year’s exhibition included lighting designs, vessels and sculpture exploring the nature and memory, optical refraction and distortion, entropy and permanence, layering and translucency, experiments with encased organic forms and conceptual narrative compositions.

Surveying these designs, it becomes apparent that the focused energy of the designers, given the opportunity to work with accomplished glassmakers, generated an unparalleled entree into the world of glass design.

Congratulations to all the participating designers: Daniela Bubendorf-Solari, Hui-Yu Chang (Tina), Shih-Hui Chang (Sherry), Cheryl Kuo, Marisa Solari, Ludovic Roth, Guan-Po Lin (Scott), Rafael Weber Schaffer, Tai-Jung Young (Dorcy), Yuki Sugiyama, Gaëtan Kohler, Maxime Peeters.

Paul Haigh ©July 2014. All project photography credited as noted.

For further information on Paul Haigh see : HAIGHArchitects+Designers see : http://www.haigharchitects.com

For further information on GlassLab and the Corning Museum of Glass see : http://www.cmog.org/glasslab

For further information including videos of the workshops see : Domaine de Boisbuchet : Contact : http://www.boisbuchet.org

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