Les Ateliers Courbet is pleased to announce the unveiling of Venini's latest artist collection, UNITY created by New York based designer Marc Thorpe.

The series of 10 unique edition vessels will be unveiled at Les Ateliers Courbet's New York gallery on March 7, 2019 from 6-8pm. 

This collaborative collection reflects Thorpe's ongoing interest for cultural confluences and the global cultural heritage that brings us all together. The designer introduces legendary Italian glass manufacturer, Venini to his weaver artisan collaborators in Dakar, Senegal. The resulting vessels are made from two parts, two materials and two time-honored techniques that come together in a fluid and continuous way. The unity between the two nesting parts is both allegoric and material as the designer prolongs the woven base's texture and color with a faceted glass top using the painstaking “battuto” cutting technique.

Venini Murano Dakar MAfrique Weaver Marc Thorpe Les Ateliers Courbet

A timely symbol of humans connections and our shared interest for our global heritage, the resulting collection marks Venini's first collaboration with other artisans from Africa. The designer explores the aesthetic relations between the two materials - glass and textile - as well as the two design legacies of Senegal and Italy. Inspired by the cultural confluence, Thorpe's vessels silhouettes could equally evoke a traditional African headrest artefact or the playfulness of Italy's Memphis design.

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The vessel portion is blown by Venini's master glassmakers and hand-cut using the cold glass cutting technique, Battuto; a surface finishing technique that imitates the “distressed” effect of hammered metal. In glasswork, the painstaking process consists of surface facets made by precise movements over a metal wheel. The resulting surface texture highlights the depth of color in the glass. The word comes from the Italian verb ‘battere’; the action of repeated strokes. It may refer to surface decoration, a technique for working metal, as well as a marker of rhythm, an indicator of life through the pulse and heartbeat's rate, or a gauge of approval in applause. 

Today battuto, inciso and vellato, are all glasswork terms that epitomize Venini's Venician glasswork and design legacy. While blowing hot glass and working it cold seem to be opposed processes, both artisanal expertises require an immediate precision and control of the gesture or the breath. Every minor movement has a direct, instantaneous and irreversible impact.

The battuto process originated in the early 1900s and can be found in glass works by the French manufacturers of Daum in Nancy, as well as 'hammered' glass works by Belgium glass masters Romain and Jeanne Gevaert in the 1920s. Fascinated by the technique, Venini & C.'s creative director Carlo Scarpa introduces battuto to Murano in the 1930s. It is likely that battuto was first applied on Murano glassworks in the grand old tradition of surface decoration used to mask imperfections in the glass. Scarpa however influenced the further development of the technique and new design applications making textured ornament off of the imperfections. Pieces featuring the battuto techniques were first shown in the Venice Biennale in 1938. 

Paolo Venini and Carlo Scarpa's exploration of the design possibilities offered by the battuto technique, quickly inspired Murano's iconic glass artists such as Tobia Scarpa, Alfredo Barbini, Lino Tagliapietra, and Davide Salvadore. In spite of battuto's widespread popularity at the time, the use of the technique in production has been confined almost exclusively to Venini & C. The painstaking and expensive technique faced resistance from other more traditional Murano glass manufacturers. It is only in the recent years that independent artists, inspired by the work of Scarpa and Venini, have started revisiting similar hammering, cutting, and grinding techniques to elaborate and refine the surface of their one-off and limited edition works.

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