Working from her studio in Los Angeles, glass artist Alison Berger creates one-of-a-kind, site-specific light installations inspired by nature, science and 16th-century astronomical instruments. Formerly an architect at Gehry Partners, an apprentice to glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and the first US artist to devise a home-accessories line for Hermès, Berger creates lighting for Holly Hunt and, under her own name, bespoke chandeliers (from $250,000) that combine traditional glassblowing techniques with contemporary, cutting-edge design.
In her Rain chandeliers, for example, hand-blown crystal pendants take their design cue from tropical rainforests and the intricate truss and crossbeam frames found in Balinese temples. Meanwhile, window mullions were the motif used in the architectural Crystal Sphere chandeliers (second picture), which Berger created as “a quiet, meditative constellation” for a client.
One particularly striking structural centrepiece is made from a collection of glass slides, which were originally used in photography. Each of the impressive installations (first picture) can include a mix of industrial, agricultural and architectural scenes from the early 20th century, and functions as a photographic light box. Elsewhere, lovers of science, and astronomy in particular, will be fascinated by Astrolabe (third picture) – a work inspired by a 16th-century handheld device of the same name that was used to chart stars via nautical pathways. Berger reinterpreted these intricate instruments as beautiful fixtures of bronze and hand-etched sheet glass with optical lenses.
Commissions take anything from six months to two years to complete, depending on the scale and complexity of the project. “My bespoke pieces are highly personal studies that resonate with meaning, mystery and magnetism, and draw observers in for further investigation,” says Berger. “Whether the inspiration is fireflies in a field or stars in a night sky, the pieces contain moments of wonder within a sculptural form.”