Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Mixed and Inspiring Glass of Caleb Siemon

We talk a lot about the past here on the Swank Lighting blog, and with good reason! Past designers like James Mont, Gio Ponti, Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames as well as others have influenced current design immensely and still remain a source of inspiration to design lovers and homeowners alike. We also talk a lot about current designers making waves in the field too, like Jonathan Adler and Nate Berkus. Well, we came across a contemporary glass artist whose art has clear influences from the past, but also a definite eye towards the future.

Caleb Siemon’s work doesn’t look futuristic or alien, but there is something so simple and postmodern about his hand blown glass pieces, that it’s clear Siemon is working on a new mix of old and new in his designs. Officially established as a glass blowing studio in 1999, Siemon’s talent has quickly propelled him to an international stage, gaining him attention from artists of all media.

As many talented artists usually begin, Siemon showed signs of excelling in art and creative endeavors at an early age, first dabbling in ceramics and jewelry. At a summer camp one year he was introduced to glass blowing, and it was obvious he had found his passion. He studied glass blowing at the Rhode Island School of Design starting in 1993, and soon was traveling the world studying the art in countries like New Zealand, Japan and Scotland as well as around the U.S. and Hawaii. He graduated with a BFA in glass blowing and a strong knowledge of contemporary glass blowing from many cultures.

After graduating he got the opportunity to apprentice with world famous master glass sculptor Pino Signoretto in Italy, and there began not only learning about the old ways of glass blowing, but genuinely appreciating and being inspired by them. With that love of the old art techniques he opened up his studio United Glass Blowing in 1999, to be an Italian inspired glass blowing studio that revered and learned from the old methods while continually working on discovering new ones. Famed artisans like Loris Zanon and others continually visit his studio, sharing their techniques of the old art and inspiring Siemon to translate them into new ideas.

Looking at Siemon’s 2009 line, it’s obvious he’s taken a note or two from the past. You can see in his work the influences of past glass artisans like perhaps even Anzolo Fuga, who he shares a love of color and patten with. There’s a familiarity to characteristics like the curves of his vases and bowls. But looking at the colors he imbeds into his pieces, there’s a deep layering that could remind you of perhaps geological strata in rocks. And just like geologists look at the layers of the earth to view our past and consider our future, so too can one view Siemon’s work to see both the past and the future of glass blowing and glass art.

Siemon’s new and old glass translations have garnered him attention and accolades from around the world, like in 2001, when he was recognized by the Italian studio Salviati by returning him to Italy to design a limited edition series. He also gets attention from television, newspapers and magazines, like Interior Design, Esquire, Luxe, and House Beautiful---to name a few. You can see the full list of his press, as well as information on the galleries, stores and museums you can view his work in person on his website

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