This year, Canadian designer Philippe Malouin was paired with the renowned Viennese glass company of J. & L. Lobmeyr through the annual Vienna Design Week Passionswege program. Erstwhile purveyors to the court, the company has devoted itself for nearly 200 years to the refinement and finishing of glass material.
In order to enforce the exchange of expertise, the preservation and further development of knowledge and the virtuosity in craftsmanship and manufacturing, the Passionswege ("pilgrimage ways") program is an integral part of Vienna Design Week. Six months before the festival, the organizers invite nine different designers to collaborate with local Viennese producers and businesses.
The Passionswege involve the use of workshops, experimentation in situ, and interventions in local businesses and shops. Meanwhile, the partnerships are completely free of the pressure to generate commercially viable products (although we don't exclude this as an option).
With his installation, Malouin wanted to focus attention on the time-intensive process of producing the pieces of Lobmeyr. He describes this process through the collaboration in a rather poetic way: A beautiful and impressively crafted brass machine slowly sifts out quartz powder (the raw material of glass) from a revolving brass container; the piece visualizes the time factor. Spirographic-type patterns generate, gain in complexity and—as the machine is running for the whole duration of the design week—will slowly become dunes. An intriguing installation, captivating the visitor's attention, allowing one to lose oneself in time and space.
Another project that came out of this collaboration is an hourglass, constructed of two classical Lobmeyr glases combined with a turned wooden block. Again, quartz sand is used to visualize the time-consuming process of producing the high end products of the company. Demonstrating the amount of man hours needed in order to do the skillful glass engraving featured on many Lobmeyr pieces, the engraved lines on the glass mark the time needed to actually make them.
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