“Bespoke is a burgeoning interest for us,” says Anike Tyrrell, founder and creative director of hand-cut crystal maker J Hill’s Standard. The Waterford-based brand is named after glassmaker John Hill – an 18th-century creative trailblazer who set a new “standard” formula for compounding glass – and has its own pioneering perspective on crystal, reviving the centuries-old Irish craft with fresh design thinking. Its first collections, launched in 2014, were produced in collaboration with such hip design names as Scholten & Baijings (Elements low glass, €160; cocktail glass, €323 for two; decanter, €545) and Martino Gamper (Cuttings grappa glass, €353 for a set of four; large tumbler, €130; carafe, €220).
“Our bespoke pieces allow us to experiment further with both the process and the material,” explains Tyrrell. “We’ve just made a series of glasses replicating the six-way weave of rattan furniture in unpolished glass. The cut is complex but the effect is quite stunning.” With only a few crystal-glass blowers and cutters left in Ireland, these master craftsmen are an invaluable part of the design process, bringing with them an archive of “making memories”. Take another bespoke commission with a complicated etched design that took 80 minutes to complete on each glass; it was the maker’s knowledge of etching Christmas decorations several decades ago that enabled the avant-garde design (from €3,000 for a set of 12 glasses). And it’s not just tableware: recent projects with interior designers and architects include panels for cabinetry and light installations by Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken – the latter presented in the grand surrounds of Palazzo Litta during Salone del Mobile in Milan 2016.
The company’s newest design collaboration is with Irish illustrator Nigel Peake, whose collection brings an organic approach to cut crystal, inspired by his textural drawings of nature, and launches at Les Atelier Courbet in New York in September. “We are the true standard in handmade crystal, we know how to make things and we are expanding crystal to be beautiful and interesting,” asserts Waterford-born Tyrrell proudly. It’s a statement backed up by the curators at the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Decoratifs, whose permanent collection features Irish crystal by only one brand: J Hill’s Standard.