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The Intersection of Architecture & Design at The Corning Museum of Glass

by Kelli Kehler

I’ve always been intrigued by art and architecture, and my leanings toward those two topics have in turn influenced a deep appreciation for ancient materials and how they’ve been manipulated in various ways over time. Perhaps one of the materials that dates back thousands of years, but still eludes me — in terms of my grasp for its properties and how it is formed — is glass. So I was fascinated to learn about an entire museum devoted to glass: The Corning Museum of Glass, nestled in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country in New York. Founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works, the not-for-profit museum was established as a gift to the nation on the heels of the company’s 100th anniversary. The museum cares for and displays phenomenal art and historical glass pieces — the world’s largest collection — while also educating visitors on the science and technology behind the construction of glass. Some of this education includes actual tactile ways to interact with glass and understand the material in new ways, like live hot glassmaking demonstrations, Make Your Own Glass experiences and hands-on glass technology exhibits. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to witness a glassblowing or glassmaking demonstration in person, you know how truly mesmerizing the process is.

The Corning Museum of Glass‘ newest exhibit is something that fires on all of my creative cylinders — Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900-1937, depicting glass pieces from Vienna in 1900-1937 that uphold the ideal of an architect also serving as designer. Curator Alexandra Ruggiero worked to explore a period of time in Austria when architects sought out to infuse all aspects of daily life with impeccable and beautiful design. This movement saw architects, artists and designers rejecting the same, usual mass production of everyday items and espousing a new devotion of modernity into all surfaces and materials, notably glass. CMoG will be the first museum in the U.S. to present this exhibition, which includes 172 works and is in cooperation with the MAK (Austrian Museum of Applied Art/Contemporary Art) and LE STANZE DEL VETRO.

Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900-1937 will run from June 23, 2018 to January 7, 2019, but for those of you who can’t visit in person, today I’ve included some photos below of the incredible pieces CMoG will have on display. From an entire dressing room designed around glass by Josef Hoffmann to a striking blue 9-piece set of blown vessels (also by Hoffman), the inspiration sparked from these designers’ takes on modernity some 100 years ago is still felt today. —Kelli

Image above: Tableware Set of Nine Blown Vessels, 1916. Designed by Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870–1956); manufactured by Wiener Werkstätte and probably Meyr’s Neffe. Mold-blown and hot-worked glass. Similar to architect Hoffmann’s repeating stacked forms in his Stoclet Palace design, he applied the same approach to these blue vessels. 

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Goblet with Lid, before 1916. Designed by Emanuel Josef Margold (Austrian, 1889–1962); manufactured by Carl Schappel. Cased, blown, and cut glass.  MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (WI 1714-1). © MAK/ Georg Mayer.

Image Credit: © MAK/ Georg Mayer

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Design Drawing for Glasses with Bronzite Decoration, 1911. Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870–1956). Pen, color on paper. J. & L. LOBMEYR Family Collection, Vienna. © LOBMEYR.

This drawing — one from a selection of drawings shown in the exhibition — shows how architects would communicate their ideas to glass manufacturers and artisans. Many of the drawings like this shown at CMoG are annotated with notes, giving a glimpse of the process from drawing to final product and changes made along the way.

Image courtesy of J. & L. LOBMEYR, Vienna, Austria

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Liqueur Glass, “Schwarzbronzit Var. B” Series, 1911. Designed by Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870–1956); manufactured by Wiener Werkstätte, J. & L. Lobmeyr, and Meyr’s Neffe. Mold-blown, bronzite-coated, and etched glass. MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (GL 3409). © Peter Kainz/ MAK.

This glass is the final product that emerged from the preceding image’s drawings.

Image Credit: © Peter Kainz/ MAK

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Candy Dishes, designed 1925. Designed by Oswald Haerdtl (Austrian, 1899–1959); manufactured by J. & L. Lobmeyr. Mold-blown and hot-worked Muslin glass. The Corning Museum of Glass.

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Six Wineglasses, about 1907. Designed by Otto Prutscher (Austrian, 1880–1949); manufactured by E. Bakalowits & Söhne and Meyr’s Neffe. Cased, mold-blown, hot-worked, and cut glass. The Corning Museum of Glass.

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Reconstruction of Dressing Room for a Star, displayed at the 1937 Paris International Exposition. Designed by Josef Hoffmann (Austrian, 1870–1956). MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (MAK; chandelier on loan from J. & L. LOBMEYR Family Collection, Vienna). © MAK/Georg Mayer.

Architect Oswald Haerdtl designed Austria’s pavilion for the 1937 International Exposition of Art and Technology in Modern Life, held in Paris. Haerdtl’s building featured a façade of glass and he invited Hoffmann to design one of the pavilion’s rooms. Hoffmann’s design is a perfect example of how interior design and architecture were united and displayed to the public as total works of art.

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Centerpiece, 1906. Designed by Leopold Bauer (Austrian, 1872–1938); manufactured by Johann Lötz Witwe. Mold-blown glass, etched. MAK – Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art (LHG 1984-19/1-4). © MAK/ Georg Mayer.

Leopold Bauer, an architect, created four individual components to form this sculptural floral vase. The influence of architecture is abundantly present in this piece, as its form is intended to change with each floral piece, enabling the user to move the four elements around.

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Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937 celebrates the collaboration between architects, designers and skilled craftsmen. At CMoG, the exhibition was designed by prominent NYC architect Annabelle Selldorf. The Museum has a long history of working with prominent architects and the Museum’s campus features fantastic examples of contemporary architecture, influenced by three generations of renowned architects.

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