Designed by Nendo founder Oki Sato, the Melt collection features a chair that is comprised of an inverted arched base topped with a contrasting, flat pane of glass, and backed with a larger rectangle of glass.
As well as the chair, the collection comprises a dozen pieces of furniture all formed by gravity over a pipe or mould. These include an armchair, chaise longue, dining table, side table, partition and vase.
Drawn to working with WonderGlass for their highly-skilled craftsmen, the Nendo founder was inspired to design the Melt collection after watching the traditional way that these artisans worked with molten glass in the brand’s workshops.
Sato told Dezeen that he was surprised to see the highly-skilled craftsmen shaping glass freely, “like a child moulding a piece of clay.”
According to the designer, the idea was to allow the glass to control the design process, letting it flow by way of gravity and the weight of the material itself. “In a way, doing less and achieving more is the most complicated thing to do,” he said.
For example, to create the chair, first molten glass was poured into a square frame while several craftsmen simultaneously evened out the surface using iron trowels.
The glass gradually cooled and, once it reached a certain pliancy, was moved and placed onto a U-shaped mould, allowing the glass to slowly sink or stretch around the mould to form an arch.
During this time, the craftsmen used tools to shape the arch, to ensure that there are no bends or cracks.
This process gives the Melt collection its name, as the objects’ draped forms occur as a result of the molten liquid nature of the glass.
“I think flat surface glass stretched by the hands of craftsmen is beautiful,” said Sato. “I discovered the beauty of glass when I saw that the plate-like glass created a beautiful arch by its own weight, when lifted by a number of craftsmen.”
“I wanted to combine those beautiful flat surfaces with curves to design this collection,” he continued.
The use of glass in furniture design is unusual given its propensity to break, but WonderGlass founders Maurizio and Christian Mussati hoped to “push the boundaries and capabilities of cast glass”.
“Glass is rarely used as the main material of furniture. However, a special moulding technology developed by WonderGlass is capable of making big and thick products without using large-scale moulds,” Sato told Dezeen.
“In this case I think a furniture collection is better suited for this technique than small cups or dishes,” he added.
The Melt collection will be presented for the first time at this year’s IMM Cologne trade show, which takes place in the German city from 14 till 20 January. It will be shown as part of an exhibition, accompanied by a photographic show.
This exhibit will offer a preview of what visitors can expect from WonderGlass at this year’s upcoming Milan Design Week in April. At last year’s festival, the brand created an installation of 30 spinning glass lamps inspired by a traditional Israeli dance.