Murano's art of glass-making looks into the future

Rolled, blown, moulded and expertly worked into beautiful objects – glass is a living culture born in Murano and has been thriving on this idyllic island just north of Venice for a millennium.

by 24 June 2014

Walking along the Fondamenta dei Vetrai, this living art form is everywhere around you. But a thousand years is a long time and things do change. We went to find out what "Made in Murano" means today.

Simone Cenedese, a third-generation glass master awarded with TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence 2014, specializes in contemporary chandeliers and sculptures, which are handmade every day in the factory located just behind his boutique. Craftsmen work hand in hand, preparing, shaping, fusing and cooling the glass, then polish, etch and get it ready for merchandise display and international shipment to customers worldwide. Shoppers browsing in the boutiques are more than welcome to observe the production process, and even have a bespoke item created for them in the showroom situated above the store.

Mr. Cenedese says he and his colleagues are decidedly more open to changes and collaborations than the previous generation who jealously guarded the secrets of the trade. “Today, there aren't many secrets anymore. I feel that, by working and sharing my experience with fellow glass masters, our businesses grow and so does Murano which, in turn, will benefit us,” he observed.

Indeed, the market is a different game today and this is where the Consorzio Promovetro comes in. Working with over 60 producers on the island, Promovetro has been introducing new initiatives to promote Murano glass. President Luciano Gambaro expresses that traditional marketing strategies such as business events and trade fairs are no longer effective. Rather, exhibitions, special event sponsorships, national and international projects with important institutions, and above all, utilizing social media – which is fast, effective and available to everyone – have proven to be fundamental. He emphasized, “In recent years, Promovetro is becoming a reference point for what concerns glass and its production.”

The fight against counterfeit Murano products began in 1994 when the Veneto region created the Vetro Artistico ® Murano trademark and entrusted it to Promovetro. Mr. Gambaro explained that only companies producing artistic glass on the island of Murano can use it. The trademark sticker adhered to genuine products guarantees their origin and production as exclusively Murano's. Mr. Gambaro further emphasized the importance of assuring authenticity as most glass-making techniques originated from Murano and that today they are still referred to with their Venetian names.

Generally, Murano glass companies are divided into primary processing – hotspot-working, and secondary processing – lampworking, fusing, decoration, engraving, mirrors and other craftsmanship after the glass is formed.

From posters on the bridges in Venice to window displays on this island, in addition to the the highly visible initiative, producers are also innovating their collections to reach large markets such as China and Russia. Lighting, one of Simone Cenedese's most au courant focuses, is a great example of how Murano's traditional techniques shine through with new designs. “I am always offering new collections. While a certain product can be imitated, our customer service cannot be. So I divide my time between the factory and clients, travelling to new markets and investing in relationships with an association like the Consorzio.”

Despite difficulties, glass masters are optimistic of the future. “It is my dream as a father to pass on the business to my children. Getting them involved from a young age on a day-to-day basis, I hope they will like the world of glass-making and carry it on,” Mr. Cenedese said. As Mr. Gambaro would agree, “Tradition, excellence and history – this is what Murano glass is about. It is different from anything else in the world.”

 

Simone Cenedese
Fondamenta dei Vetrai 68
30141 Murano, Venice
Tel. +39 041 5274 455

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Consorzio Promovetro Murano
Information on glass factories and lamp-working tours
Tel. +39 041 5275 074
www.promovetro.com
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