From Murano, 700 Years of Glass and Lighting

General / People / Places / April 1, 2021

Since A+A is intensely interested in all things Italian, we’re pleased to present today the work of Murano-based luxury Italian lighting masters Barovier&Toso. The history of Murano’s artistic glass and that of the Barovier family are strictly connected. Barovier is the oldest glass-making family in the world, with traces of its activity in the artistic glass production dating back to the 13th century. In 1939, the company merged with the Toso family, also from Murano, and also with a long history in the glass industry. We recently interviewed Daniela Sarracco, marketing and communication manager of the company, via email:

Your most notable installations?
We work with brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Bulgari and hotel chains like Four Season, Ritz Carlton, and Marriot. We have decorated casinos in all the five continents from Las Vegas to Macao and we collaborate with the most famous architecture firms to furnish prestigious residences.

Your design intent ?
Our heritage represents a source of inspiration and knowledge. Our story started in 1295 and has continued from generation to generation, overcoming wars, eras, styles and tastes unscathed, with an ability for transformation and innovation that only passion and dedication can instill. Every Barovier&Toso piece originates from seven hundred years of history that are skillfully nurtured in an ongoing reinventive process.

Murano glass-crafting tradition, of which we have always been absolute protagonists, remains for us the starting point from which to propose ideas, solutions, innovative and original projects that have allowed us to hand down values through the century old history of the founders’ family. The production of glass, the hand tools, the raw materials and the different “recipes” to obtain different kind of glasses are still the same since the beginning.

Today, as well as in the past, Barovier&Toso interprets the tastes of the period by combining the glass tradition of its forefathers with trends and innovations in style and technology. Barovier&Toso is not only a company producing magnificent and luxurious chandeliers but is also a place where we still invent, create, and test as we did 500 years ago.

Your material palette and range of colors?
The Barovier&Toso catalogue offers a wide range of collections (more than 100), all with countless possible combinations in terms of size, colors of Venetian crystal, metal finishings and shades (for a total of about 5000 combinations).

Should a customer fail to find his or her ideal product in this range, Barovier&Toso can help to personalize creations based on specific requirements, to generate a unique, precious object. Since every item is made entirely by hand by skilled craftsmen in our glassworks in Murano, the pieces can be truly “tailored” to meet all tastes.

Our consultants are always available to guide clients in the personalization of products, ranging from small variations of sizes and colors to the invention and manufacture of a custom design.

Our clients usually have complex interiors projects, so customization is always part of the game: they can ask for special heights, diameters or colors or an entire custom project that they can develop together with our style office.

How does a site determine a design?
This is a very delicate issue because we almost always clash with designers, clients and people who obviously have different tastes. Our advice, however, is to exaggerate in size because there is always a need to have something that catches the eye. When you enter a beautiful house, regardless of the modern or traditional style, you will often find small chandeliers or lamps compared to the environment that surrounds them and this makes everything a little sad because it is as if the chandelier is dancing in the middle of the volume or of the room. To explain it better, it’s a bit like going to dinner with a beautiful lady and ordering a small bottle of wine, and you immediately see that there is something out of place on the table. When we make a lighting project, we always reverse the perspective that is usually used – we start with the lamps giving the leading role of the project to light.

The world of interior design and lighting itself are extremely varied, trends are constantly changing, and it is difficult to say what will last and what will quickly pass to the archives. Certainly, a Barovier&Toso chandelier is timeless par excellence: emotions never expire, they are not influenced by fashions and trends, and our goal is precisely to keep them alive with an inimitable style – and for this reason often badly imitated.

How has the pandemic affected the business and production – and what’s the future look like?

Unfortunately, Italian companies are those that have suffered longer closures than their counterparts in various foreign countries, thus losing historical market positions and suffering multiple damages. Fortunately, the international appeal of Made in Italy has not been affected in the least and it will probably be USA that will shake up the market. The business model will certainly be questioned, but above all the scale of values on which the world of design rests. I believe that the watchword can be sustainability, but not only in its primary “green” meaning but in the sense that a product or project must last and be maintained over time without losing their meaning and their raison d’etre.

In such a delicate and painful phase, it is necessary to take a rational, energetic approach, without losing an opportunity to leverage and reduce costs, to safeguard the relationship with customers, to extend our business into new opportunities – which exist -, to support old and new partners acting on the redefinition of the business model.

In this situation, companies like ours are certainly privileged, where all strategic processes are governed internally. We rely on a few external suppliers, only for some materials and minor processes. In short, our supply chain is light and, in any case, very short, almost at zero kilometers. In addition, ours is an artisanal and tailor-made product so we produce according to orders.

To move on a more cultural level, the value of the brand will certainly become even more important, which is a guarantee and synonymous of the quality of the project, the materials used, the production process in its entirety in respect of the territory and the human capital. We will continue to focus on insourcing, already our peculiar characteristic, to internally control all the production phases, almost obsessively in order to offer a truly excellent product.

For more, go here.

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Mike Welton

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