Polarities | Marcel Wanders Studio

17 September 2022

Barovier&Toso presents a collection of luminous sculptures designed together with Marcel Wanders Studio. A special and original project showcased in the context of “The Italian Glass Weeks 2022”.


Art and design, poetry and technique. 

Polarities creates a bridge between constraints and possibilities, formulating a creative dimension that represents and identifies a powerful union of intent. Glass intertwines new trajectories and becomes a symbol of intangible dynamics, such as love and hatepast and future, universally recognized opposites addressed since antiquity by philosophers and poets, from East to West. Dichotomy and interdependence... this is the eternal dualism behind the Polarities collection of luminous sculptures, created in a collaboration between Barovier&Toso and Marcel Wanders Studio.

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“Utilizing and combining the techniques of Murano, we have introduced opposing concepts and underscored beautiful, poetic contrasts.”

Gabriele Chiave, Creative Director, Marcel Wanders Studio


Extensive research and experimentation have led to remarkable results that combine the potential of Venetian Crystal, corporate heritage and visionary, contemporary and romantic ideas.

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The collection, in a limited, numbered edition, is composed of six models, each in a series of just 21 pieces. In blown glass, sculpted by hand, they all have a square stone base containing a lighting component.

The light makes the sculptures reveal a dual character, literally generating a transformation and offering a completely new interpretation of the work. This characteristic is the result of design that painstakingly exploits the properties of glass, such as transparency, distribution of colour and material effects, qualities that only exceptional experience can control and measure. The use of specific techniques and forms of workmanship has been assessed and deployed for each individual model, coherently channelling their expressive power.

One of the dualities of Polarities is that of the male-female relationship, aspects that are called upon to constantly interact in many spheres of existence. The design chosen to represent Him and Her has a particular strong connection, conveyed in the shared forms of the design. The same silhouette, the same proportions, the same workmanship, but with different orientation and colouring.

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Her begins with white, which is then covered with precious golden flakes. The woven pattern produced by the “balloton” technique, in slight relief, brings out the sinuous beauty of the volumes and produces a very distinctive effect.

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The same diamond motif, in the sculpture Him, done in black with applications of platinum leaf, triggers a very different opaque, almost magmatic effect of mysterious charm. One sculpture seems like the other’s opposite, and vice versa. The concept of above and below weakens, taking on a different value, no longer trapped in clichés, shifting into a vision of opposite poles that reflect and overturn each other.

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The bond between Love and Hate is instead subtler, less immediate. Powerful and apparently antithetical feelings, yet capable of coexisting in the human spirit, as described by the great Latin poet Catullus. For both the structures, Marcel Wanders Studio has worked on the form of the oval, interpreted on different planes.

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In Love the vertical dimension, symmetry and transparency hold sway, tempered by a blurred effect obtained with acid etching. Inside, the sculpture contains a concave red part, in a sort of embrace, a reminder of the protective nature of love.

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Hate counters this with a more pressed configuration that plays with the principle of balance. The oval form is skewed and the support point is not at the centre, which is also true of the mouth in the upper part of the sculpture. The complexity of its walls is striking and fascinating, textured by an irregular, brilliant geometry produced with the “ghiaccio” technique and silver plating.

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Past and Future is the most heterogeneous pairing in the collection, enlivened by vivid contrasts that are reflected in the design and workmanship.

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Past is a luminous sculpture that references absolutely classical forms: Venetian Crystal, lined in keeping with the tradition, blown to create an elegant transparent amphora based on several designs from the historical archives of Barovier&Toso. It is the “snapshot” of a time that once was, immutable, reassuring in its completeness.

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Future, on the other hand, has a totally indefinite aspect. It is the mirror of an unpredictable and uncertain time that generates a fluid form, impossible to codify or to define through geometry. The walls are thick and shaped by gestures that communicate energy and force, underscored by the mirror surface of the crystal.

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All the sculptures in the Polarities series can establish a dialogue with the others, creating personal conceptual and artistic combinations. 

For the launch of the collection, Barovier&Toso has chosen The Italian Glass Weeks 2022, a major new event of international importance with an exclusive focus on glass, based on the merger of Vision Milan Glass Week and Venice Glass Week. The exhibition has a dual location: Milan, at the concept flat on Via Durini, and Venice, at Palazzo Barovier&Toso. 

The year 2022 has been officially designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Glass, and Barovier&Toso could not fail to make its contribution. Within the panorama of artistic glass creations, after seven centuries of experience, the company has once again demonstrated its value as an innovator and a faithful guardian of the tradition.