Italian glass making company
Venini and C.(established in 1925) is a premier Italian glassmaking company in Murano, Italy, whose glassmaking philosophy is characterized by its combination of traditional technique, openness to modern and contemporary styles, and high manufacturing skills. The company was founded by Paolo Venini (July 1895, Milan, Italy-July 22, 1959, Venice, Italy). Paolo Venini was born in a family of glass manufacturers, who, after serving in the Italian army in World War I and practicing law in Milan, made the acquaintance of Giacomo Cappellin, a Venetian antique dealer. In 1921 they established a glass factory in Murano under the name of Vetri Cappellin Venini & Co. read more
The first artistic director of Cappellin Venini & Co. was the painter Vittorio Zecchin, who was instrumental in establishing the quality reputation of the company’s work early on. The company produced Renaissance-style goblets, pitchers, and vases. After a disagreement, Cappellin left the company in 1925 to open his own competing firm and took many of the company’s artisans with him, and Venini renamed the company as Vetri Soffiati Muranese Venini & Co, better known as Venini & C. The Italian sculptor Napoleone Martinuzzi became the company’s new Artistic Director.
That same year, in 1925, Martinuzzi innovated the pulegoso glass, characterized by air bubbles, which create an opaque look in the glass. He would also contribute hued art glass and contemporary glass lighting before leaving the firm. From 1932 until 1934 the architect and designer Tomaso Buzzi served as artistic director at Venini & C. While Buzzi designed works with classical shapes, he also brought with him a new era of experimentation and created pasta vitrea (opaque glass) and vetro incamiciato (layered glass). As Venini & C.’s reputation grew, Paolo Venini sought the collaboration of important designers and architects such as Gio Ponti and Carlo Scarpa.
In the 1930s, Venini & C. crafted the “Diamante” glasses and “murrine romane”. This earmarked a revival of glass manufacturing through the 1930s and 40s. Following World War II, as Paolo Venini had become an experienced glassmaker, Paolo contributed more of his own artistic vision and a more hands on approach to the company. Paolo Venini designed some of the firm’s best-known products himself, such as the Fazzoletto (handkerchief) series.
In the 1940s, the company’s artistic directors were architects Tommaso Buzzi and Carlo Scarpa. Scarpa brought with him a more focused modernist vision to the company and its designs. In particular, Scarpa developed new techniques, such as battuto (beaten glass), tessuto (glass with lines), granulare (glass with small globules), and murina (patterned glass made from rods).
After Paolo Venini’s death in 1959, Venini & C. was passed to Venini’s son-in-law, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, and in the 1976, Ludovico’s daughter, Laura, managed the company and started to work with then-contemporary artists and designers such as Owe Thorssen, Tina Aufiero, and Brigitta Karlsson. In 1985 the company was sold to Gardini and Ferruzzi, and in the years to follow important architects and designers such as Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass, Gae Aulenti and Mario Bellini designed glasswork with Venini & C.
Venini’s style remains synonymous with traditional technique and modern form. The company was briefly owned (1997–2001) by Royal Scandinavia (owner of Swedish Orefors Kosta Boda, and today the company is owned by Italian Luxury Industries. In the 21st century, the company carries on Venini’s legacy, commissioning designs from the likes of Tadao Ando, Atelier Biagetti, and the Campana brothers. The first exhibition, dedicated to Carlo Scarpa, called “Venetian Glass by Carlo Scarpa: The Vnini Company 1932-1947,” took place in 2013 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Last updated: January 15, 2019
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