Originally founded as Cappellin Venini & C in by Paolo Venini and Giacomo Cappellin 1921, with artist Vittorio Zecchin at the helm as artistic director, the Italian brand Venini is grounded in a commitment to a reinterpretation of traditional schemes, openness towards new artistic trends and high manufacturing skills. Soon after it was established, the company was split into two, and in 2001 the brand's philosophy was recentred to maintain the mission of Paolo Venini, laid out in 1921.
Murano Glass by Venini
The Italian brand Venini is defined by its commitment to the reinterpretation of traditional schemes, openness towards new artistic trends and high quality manufacturing skills. Qualities that formed the base of the brand by artistic director Vittorio Zecchin, a painter who worked closely with glass masters on the Murano Island. Originally named Cappellin Venini & CO in 1921 by founders Paolo Venini and Giacomo Cappellin, however after a few years the company was split in two.
Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini & C. became the new name in 1925 and Napoleone Martinuzzi became the new artistic director. Martinuzzi was one of the most important and influential people in the artistic world of glass.
By 1927 Martinuzzi began to introduce change and innovation to the brand after following his predecessor’s guidelines for a few years. Exhibited pieces featured decorative elements such as coloured glass filaments and Martinuzzi introduced “pulegoso” glass. A form of glass characterised by lots of air bubbles which can make an object look opaque.
Between 1932 and 1942, Venini himself took a more active role. Tommaso Buzzi became Martinuzzi’s successor and other important artists began working for Venini, such as Carlo Scarpa and Gio Ponti. These artists offered new and refreshing techniques, such as “Beaten” and “Murrine”. “Beaten”, is characterised by an engraved surface with small irregular parallel scratches. “Murrine”, dates back to the Roman Age. Murrine, long rods of glass that have their own pattern inside, are melted together following a design, and then blown into shape.
Immediately after the war in 1942, Venini decided to launch new works during the Venice Biennale, most prominently a collection by a young artist Fulvio Bianconi from Padua. The collection featured twelve characters from the Commedia dell’Arte. The collaboration continued, with new collections incorporating “piebald”, “bands” and “inclusions” that left an important mark in Venini’s history and for the island of Murano. From then on, famous artists continued to work with Venini, like Ken Scott and Eugene Barman.
Paolo Venini died in 1959, after which his son in law Ludovico Diaz De Santillan, who had been working under him for a few years, became the new CEO of Venini. In 1972 a fire broke out in the Venini factory. Many original samples and prototypes, with their original drawings, were destroyed. During the years that followed Laura, Lodovico’s daughter managed the company and Venini continued to collaborate with famous artists and designers. Gardini and Ferruzzi bought out Venini in the 80’s with the intention of continuing Paolo Venini’s aim to focus on luxury and design. They started to work with one of the most important architects worldwide: Alessandro Mendini. Then in the 90’s they began to collaborate with Ettore Sottsass as well.
In 2001 Venini was bought out by the Italian Luxury Industries. During the years that followed the number of important collaborations increased, including one with Fernando and Humberto Campana in 2005. They designed a big installation of glass bells for the Moss Gallery in New York. In 2011 the brand celebrated its 90th anniversary with a travelling exhibition. Then the following year the branded decided to work with Fondazione Cini and Pentagram Stiftung on a ten-year project of single-author exhibitions on artists that worked for Venini. The collections include all works, original drawings and images belonging to the company’s archives. The first exhibition, dedicated to Carlo Scarpa, was very successful and was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2013.
It is clear that Venini has maintained its original brand identity, that of an enchanted mix of exclusive techniques and continuous collaborations with exceptional artists. The key to the brand’s success is their authenticity, uniqueness, luxury and heritage
Venini stays true to its authenticity. Still based in Murano, where for over 600 years glass has been manufactured. Their laboratory is constantly developing and is considered a leading landmark for glass research.The uniqueness of Venini comes from the innovative approach to glass design and its manufacture. Glass made by the brand is precious and recognisable, thanks to the respect for materials and detailed research.
Luxury for Venini means exclusive creations, with refined details, complicated techniques and particular attention to finishing touches. This represents the purest beauty of glass art. The brand’s heritage goes back more than 90 years, with a legacy depicted through drawings, pictures and art works. This heritage serves to motivate and inspire collaborators as well as fascinate customers. Venini continues to be exhibited around the world in important museums and Art Foundations.
Venini Iconic Design Products
Bolle Bottle 1966
The “Bolle” series was designed by Tapio Wirkkala and is one of the most famous and representative collections designed by the Finn for Venini. The series was manufactured using the “incalmo” technique, in which two open blown pieces of glass are welded together when hot, most commonly in different colours.
Yemen Vase 1984
The geometric Yemen vase was designed by Ettorre Sottsass. It is monumental, architectural and rich in symbolism. Using an opal hand blown glass technique the vase consists of three separate Murano glass pieces in green, black and red. The processing technique uses slightly opaque opal glass, which contains lead hydrogen arsenate crystals that appear bluish when observed under reflected light and light brown, or pink, when observed under direct light. The result is beautiful colour combinations.
Collaborations with Designers
Carlo Scarpa, a Venetian architect began his collaboration with Venini in 1932, and acting as artistic director until 1946. His primary achievement for the brand was lamps and artistic objects. His legacy is also evident in both design and research using the most sophisticated techniques. Examples of his work include “Battuti” vases and the “Murrine Opache”.
Wirkkala loved experimenting with different materials, making him a versatile and eminent designer. He was artistic director of Helsinki’s University of Arts and Design for many years, Wirkkala is best known for his Finlandia vodka bottle and the glass tableware he designed for Iittala. Wirkkala was already world famous before collaborating with Venini, but it was while working with Venini glass masters that he became a master in the “incalmo” technique and a rich colour palette. His most famous works for Venini was the “Bolle” series and “Piatto di Tapio”.
Sottsass founded his design and architecture studio in Milan in 1947 and his work for design consultant Olivetti from 1958, resulted in many iconic pieces. His triumphant works, including design, painting, furniture design, objects and ceramics led to a retrospective exhibition organised in is honour by the International Design Zentrum in Berlin in 1976. The exhibitions was also put on display at the Venice Biennial and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Examples of his work for Venini include “Yemen” and “Oman”.
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- Carlo Scarpa
- Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby
- Ettore Sottsass JR
- Massimo Vignelli
- Paolo Venini
- Tapio Wirkkala