Material mixology: How Pulpo reveals the hidden light and depth of glass

MILAN – New Romantic Black, the new collection of expressive and experimental design pieces by German design brand Pulpo, debuted at Milan Design Week last month. The collection sees Pulpo collaborate with multidisciplinary talents, including continuing its longstanding partnership with Sebastian Herkner to develop Alwa Three, the third iteration of the German designer’s Alwa tables.

Sebastian Herkner’s Alwa Three tables for Pulpo are made from cast glass, in a unique technique that involves pouring the molten glass into a mould to solidify over several days.

Also comprising FG vessels by Dutch designers Visser&Meijwaard and Blash shelving by Silo, New Romantic Black sculpts the liquid tactility of glass into a breadth of functional objects such as tables, lighting and containers. In each project, expressions of colour and texture work to accentuate the elusive character of glass.

Due to its unique tactile and transparent qualities, the materiality of glass is different from that of other reflective surfaces. From the paintings of Dutch Renaissance artist Willem Claesz. Heda to Pulpo’s complex compositions, glass can be seen as a material that not merely reflects light, but holds it within its shape and form. The rich olive-greens, textured silver, deep ochres and golds of Pulpo’s designs celebrate the composition and finishing possibilities of the timeless material.

Table lamp Oda Small, also by Herkner, has the weightless appearance of a paper lantern.

This experimental and expressive study of materiality can be seen in the various objects presented at Milan Design Week 2018. Varying forms and colours are hand-blown into glasses and carafes by Meike Harde in her collection, Potpourri, while Herkner contributes Delight, a curvaceous hand-blown side table that bears a striking resemblance to Claesz. Heda’s goblets; Gin, a collection of tables exploring the application of finishes possible on glass; Container, a family of mirrored glass jars that by form and colour serve the composition of contemporary tabletop still lifes; and Oda, a jellyfish-like lamp delicately balanced atop steel legs.

The floor lamp version Oda Medium takes on a more structural scale. The black coloured glass also explores the different transparencies of the material.

Through its collaborative design process, Pulpo invites designers to express function through a developed material practice – revealing the rich breadth of statements in glass.

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