Art | Need To Now

Blown away

A show of glass vases and lights – plus a cascade of base jumpers

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Blown away

June 05 2013
Charlotte Abrahams

Nigel Coates is a British architect, designer – and self-confessed glass junkie. “Glass is a magical liquid,” he says, “and since fluidity is one of the constant themes in my work, it follows that I should love glass.” Coates’s passion stems from a meeting in 1991 with master glassmaker and designer Simon Moore, and has now blossomed into an exhibition of new work at his own White Post Gallery in London’s South Kensington.

Handblown, as the exhibition is called, focuses primarily on vessels and lights made from lead crystal or Borosilicate glass. Fans of the former will be tempted by Tulipini (first picture, £650 each) – a set of three bulb-like opalescent crystal vases Coates made in collaboration with Moore – and the glorious Neo Mio chandelier (second picture, £19,900), with its lavishly handcrafted leaves and sculptural arum lilies. On the other hand, the Borosilicate collection of Carry Artid vases and lamps (vases £625 each; lamps in third picture, £975 each) will appeal to those with more functional tastes. Made in much the same way as laboratory equipment (cylinders of glass were heated on a lathe then joined together while still hot), these pieces have a pleasingly utilitarian aesthetic.

However, the star attraction of this selling exhibition must be Angel Falls (fourth picture, from £2,700). Designed by Coates and made by Italian glassmaker Terzani, it is a crystal chandelier featuring a cascade of miniature men, each one hand-shaped into a base-jumping pose, and is both an exquisite piece of craftsmanship and a wonderfully witty example of contemporary design.