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The Douglas Vase Becomes a New Yorker

The glass container, originally created in Meisenthal by French designer François Azambourg, is being produced in a special Brooklyn edition

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by Guy Rebmeister

The key to producing a Douglas Vase is in the mould. That’s what François Azambourg obsessively focused on in 2007, during his research at the International Glass Art Centre (CIAV) in Meisenthal. At first it was a series of free experiments; ultimately, inspired by constant dialogues with the institution’s glassmakers, from the fire came a prototype that reflected the extraordinary skills of its designer and its makers.

And now the vase is traveling to New York on a special production showcase at the Brooklyn Glass Workshop and the WantedDesign exhibition at Industry City.

In a way, the Douglas Vase is going back to its roots: the key to producing a Douglas Vase is, indeed, in its adaptive wood mould… and the Douglas pine softwood used to produce it was actually imported from North America to France in the 19th century. The distinctive shape of the vase owes its form to the wood’s ability to, as the French designer explained, “mark the glass.” The final surface bears the imprints of its wooden matrix, with sinuous veins, tormented knots and tiny crevices.

Last year, in celebration of its tenth anniversary, Azambourg and the Meisenthal glassmakers revisited the series during a workshop, creating more than 200 unique pieces and sets in new shapes. Some were presented in May at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, in conjunction with the Designer’s Days.

That’s something similar to what’s taking place right now in New York, where Azambourg, the CIAV team, local glassmakers and the WantedDesign team are collaborating to create a special edition of the series, made in Brooklyn using local resources. It’s a transatlantic combination of the Meisenthal know-how with NYC’s bustling creativity and the state’s quality materials. In a beautiful display of openness and integration, one of the most celebrated pieces of contemporary French glassmaking is, in a way, becoming a citizen of the world.

The WantedDesign exhibition at Industry City is open until May 21

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