Murano glassmakers: a behind the scenes guide

In a small island factory, just off Venice, a centuries old tradition is still going strong

Murano glass has been a staple of the Venice creative scene for centuries. The exquisite, pure glass is woven into sculptures or chandeliers using the same techniques as the family's ancestors and the pieces are sold around the world.

The value of Murano glass lies in its rich history and location. True Murano glass is only created on the island of Murano in Venice, Italy. The glass is made of the purest components and has been made and crafted using the same techniques since the Middle Ages. There is quality glass made in other parts of the world, but they can't hold a candle to the beauty and history of a true Murano piece, hand crafted by the best glass workers in the world.

La Murrina, a relatively new company in the world of Murano glass, has its factory on Murano Island, and glassmakers are working constantly to fill their showrooms with some of the most beautiful and unique pieces of glass art available. The difference between La Murrina and other glass makers lies in its use of metal and lighting in their pieces. Many of the artworks in their showroom use high-quality LED lights to enhance their beauty, and the chandeliers have different styles of lighting and metal backbones. Of course, the pieces can stand alone perfectly well, as many in the showroom do, but these LEDs and metal additions allow for more innovation in La Murrina's collections.

The history of La Murrina

lamurrina chandelier

The company was founded in 1974, but the furnaces of La Murrina have been lit since the sixties. A small group of master glassblowers created a small amount of glass-blown beauties until the small factory was bought by a family from Milan. The family was already dealing with glass combined with metal and light fixtures, which allowed for La Murrina to continue its unique styles.

La Murrina became more organised with its new leadership and began marketing all over the world, slowly becoming the La Murrina of today. The headquarters and plant for the making of metal and electric components were built in Turate Como, and the factory still resides on Murano Island.

I visited La Murrina's small factory in Como and Murano Island to learn more about its pieces and how they are made.

Inside La Murrina's Como facility

La Murrina shows its visitors something completely different than what you might expect. Its Como facility houses a huge showroom with rooms and rooms full of collections of flawless glass pieces. There were muted colours, gold filigrees, huge chandeliers, and brightly-marbled pieces. We could have stayed for hours, but after a while, it was time to introduce us to the factory.

Walking into an entryway full of pieces of glass, wood tables and employees, you are greeted with tables of tools and half-finished glass pieces, employees scattered around doing their jobs, and boxes after boxes ready too ship. The guide walked through rooms full of huge wooden boxes holding La Murrina's pieces. Walking through the huge factory was both beautiful, due to the scattered pieces of glass art, and disorienting because of its sheer size.

Eventually, we were led into the rooms where metal skeletons for chandeliers were made, and it was explained that La Murrina creates all of its components here in the factory. No pieces of its precious artworks are outsourced, as proven by the huge amounts of raw material and half-formed chandeliers in the room. Robot arms cut and polished, employees treated metal in different solutions, and 'La Murrina' was printed on boxes everywhere. After an Italian coffee, goodbyes were exchanged and we were en route to Venice for a trip to Murano Island and La Murrina's glass factory.

La Murrina's glass factory

The glass factory was breathtaking—both literally and figuratively. The heat was a force of its own, making me sweat within seconds of setting foot inside, oven after oven was white-hot, and employees worked constantly and quickly to create masterpieces in them. In one corner, four people worked together in different ovens to make a design on a vase. In another, a different vase was blown. In yet another, individual pieces were being shaped. Every oven was being used by someone making some important piece of La Murrina's designs.

The fruits of their labour show in the beauty of the finished pieces—gorgeous curved vases covered in spots of bright colours, chandeliers covered from top to bottom in pastel coloured glass flowers, birds whose colours and shapes make them seem almost real, and hundreds

These beauties are often bought by individuals, but La Murrina also has a large amount of contracts with hotels, restaurants and bars, cruise ships and retail locations. The hotels it is partnered with span much of the world, with multiple hotels across the USA and Italy. The Zetter Hotel in London, Venitian Hotel in Las Vegas, SwigEquities in New York, Town House Galleria in Milano, and Grand Hotel in Roma are just a few of these venues. As for restaurants and bars, most of these partners are in the USA, with many in Los Angeles. The exceptions are Sky Terrace Penthouse in Caracalla, Four Seasons Doha Qatar, Café Bistrot Tinos Greece, Baranode Athena, Bankers Puerto Rico, and Al Mahara Dubai.

La Murrina's glass creations were beautiful to begin with, but having seen the processes behind them, I will never look at a Murano glass piece without thinking back to the heat of the ovens in Venice and the vast factory in Como.

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