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Future Heritage is an integral part of Decorex. Each year a special place on the event floor is reserved for this showcase of collectible items and unique craftmanship. Its aim is to champion talented makers and provide them with a platform from which to gain the recognition they deserve.
In the wake of Decorex Virtual, Future Heritage remains a point of pride for us – we eagerly await its return within our next physical edition. Curator of Future Heritage, Corinne Julius, has a finger on the pulse of the crafts industry and selects only the most talented craftspeople to exhibit their work within the collection, making sure to select those whose techniques and materials encapsulate something extra special.
We caught up with Future Heritage Alumni duo, Cristina Vezzini & Stan Chen – better known as Vezzini & Chen – to discuss their work with glass and ceramic, which is heavily influenced by the forms and textures of nature. Being scuba divers, they have a joint passion for underwater spaces and draw a lot of inspiration from this to create their unique pieces.
DECOREX: Give us a little background to you both: Stan you’re from Taiwan and Cristina you’re from Italy?
VIZZINI & CHEN: I, Cristina come originally from Italy and Stan from Taiwan, we were both drawn to study in London by the rich heritage, traditions and knowledge of our chosen crafts within Britain. Growing up near Lake Garda with both parents being doctors, I have been influenced by organic forms and microbiology, fascinated by the underlying structures and geometric shapes within nature.
Seeds are another central theme; I have been collecting them on my travels for over 15 years. I am fascinated by both their forms and concept as containers of potential growth, organic information and personal memory. Stan’s focus is led by the material nature of glass and the process of glassblowing by hand. Working with glass in its molten state requires speed, rhythm and a respect and understanding of its fluid nature. This is reflected in Stan’s glass forms, the simplicity and grace dictated by the material itself. Growing up in the green land of Taiwan, Stan has always been surrounded by nature, it’s his main source of inspiration.
D: Where did you meet?
V&C: Stan and I met while studying an MA in Ceramic and Glass at the Royal College of Art in London. I have always been fascinated by glass and Stan helped me to explore ideas and create them. We enjoyed working together and sharing ideas and felt it would be great to also begin creating work together. Immediately after graduating we set up our studio and three months later applied for our first joint exhibition.
D: How did you decide to work together and combine your two mediums? Is this something that felt like a natural fit or was there some experimentation and compromise involved?
V&C: We first started to work together because Stan was helping me make glass pieces for my degree show at the Royal College of Art. I was always interested in a clear element in my work; during my BA I was mixing ceramics and resin. That's why I decided to study an MA in Ceramics and Glass, so that I could use glass instead of resin. Also, being Italian, I was always passionate about glass. We always joke about how Stan is Taiwanese and uses glass, and I’m an Italian using ceramics.
D: Why do you think the two materials – ceramic and glass – work so well together?
V&C: They are two beautiful materials part of our everyday life. They both came from nature and share beautiful qualities. They resonate our love and admiration for nature (earth as in clay) and the sea (water-glass). However, I wouldn’t generalise that to say that glass and ceramic always work well together. It is part of our process to tests and trial to see in what circumstances they can work together. It takes time and dedication. We always say that although we have been working together since 2013, we feel that only since 2016/7 our materials have found harmony together.
D: Many of your projects appear to be inspired by nature. Have you always adopted a biophilic style?
V&C: Yes, we have always been inspired by nature, although in two very different ways. Stan is inspired by soft simple lines and forms found in nature while I mainly take inspiration from the texture and intricate details on organic and underwater forms. We are both scuba divers and the underwater world is a big source of inspiration in our work.
D: Each one of your creations are unique in their design – is this something that’s particularly important to you (ensuring each piece has its own ‘personality’)?
V&C: Yes definitely. I think that is part of who we are and what we do. We love that each piece is completely unique so that each client has a unique creation, with its own identity and personality. We also often create bespoke lighting for clients. We visit the client’s house and chat with them to understand what they like most in our work and what they like in general (in terms of light in the room and aesthetic). We then create something bespoke and special for that client. We wouldn’t be able to work in a factory and produce the same thing every day – it would kill our creativity.
D: Increasingly you are designing site specific pieces for interior projects, how difficult/enjoyable is that?
V&C: Designing unique pieces is very challenging, we can’t deny that, but it is also very exciting. Challenging because we often have to design new lighting fittings, new components, new ceramic and glass shape. We than have to try them and test them. But it is very rewarding seeing a happy client at the end of months working toward a unique piece for them.
D: You are selling well in America as well as the UK and Italy, are the markets very different?
V&C: Our first show in America was last November at Salon with Adrian Sassoon Gallery. We can’t compare the American market yet. For bespoke work our main market is the UK, probably because we do more shows here than abroad. Abroad we mainly sell work via the gallery that represents us.
D: What projects are you working on right now?
V&C: We are creating a bespoke chandelier for a new client in London. A complete new composition and new design – we are very excited.
D: What would you really like to do that you haven’t done to date?
V&C: We would love to set up a bigger studio with a glass, ceramic and metal workshop. A creative hub where people come together to share ideas and create incredible work. We would also love to have some unlimited budget projects for us to be absolutely free to create without restrictions.
D: What did you get out of Future Heritage?
V&C: FH was a great opportunity to show our work to a high-end interior design audience. Although we did not get direct sales or commissions from it, we had the great opportunity to meet new potential clients, interior designers and galleries many of whom we are still in contact today.
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