Designer collector

I absolutely adored the Venini / Carlo Scarpa exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum (November 5, 2013 - March 2, 2014). It once again demonstrated that the most successful new designs come from a deep love of the past.

The bottle above belonged to Paolo Venini. It is part of a small collection inherited by his daughter Laura and that found its way to America after she married an American.

This particular bottle was made around 1750, probably in the Austrian Tyrol, not too far from Venice. The thin green glass was patterned with vertical ribs which give it a wonderful optical quality. It then defied the knife—the bubble was not burst, but pushed in from both sides until opposite sides met and fused, in a favorite glassblower's trick.

Two bottles in the group show another magical property of glass—it's ability to retain a pattern even as it is further shaped and even expanded. They are probably Scandinavian and date to the 1850s.

Venini's collection reminded him of the best of the past, even as he and his designers incorporated that best into the new. The Scarpa exhibit shows just how well they succeeded.