modern glass that inspires: baldwin guggisberg

modern glass baldwin guggisberg

Modern glass vessels help bring freshness to a room that heavier sculpture and flat art can’t always do. Recently a dear friend brought to my attention the inspired glass works of American-Swiss artists based in Wales: Baldwin Guggisberg. I’m so happy she did! I love when friends share ideas about artists with me. It’s like getting a referral to a great new restaurant – better to have someone you know and trust make the first venture inside! These chic modern glassworks did not disappoint.


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For over thirty-five years Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg have been working together. They started their adventures in glass making in Sweden at the famed Orrefors Factory Glass School. To this education they have added their own styles and processes incorporating techniques used by the modern glass artists through the 20th century. They write that over the course of bringing life to a new piece of glass the object slowly reveals itself to the creator “flowing out from your very own mind and body”.

All artists I have spoken with tell me the same thing.  Their finished artwork can never be exactly replicated because the exact conditions in which it was made will never ever exist again. Collaborations with glass powerhouses from Steuben in New York to Venini in Italy have increased the studio’s profile, as have museum shows in Europe and America.


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Baldwin and Guggisberg’s modern glass layers colors and textures to build upon the sculptural forms of their work. Originally the duo used sandblasting to cut through layers of glass to create various patterns and textures. By adding Italian cutting as pioneered by Carlo Scarpa in the 1930s, their work has continued to evolve and grow. The vessels I have chosen to highlight here use a technique known as Battuto.  This technique removes the inherent shine from glass giving it a deep rich matte finish. Where glossy modern glass sculptures certainly have a place in contemporary design, I much prefer matte works that have an organic and natural dynamic.  This allows them to be seamlessly incorporated into almost any project.

Living with modern glass is not for the faint of heart as it always seems to attract the clumsy housekeeper.  But what is life if not lived in the moment! An elegant glass vessel like the ones shown here placed on a console speak volumes about the homeowner: modern, inspired, and audacious.


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A great piece of glass sculpture can also do wonders for a room by giving the space a definite focal point. One of my first projects included a lovely glass bowl that the client moved from her dining room to her study. At first I was offended that she had taken it out of the public rooms.  She later confessed that she so often found herself wandering into the dining room to take a look at it, that it just made more sense to keep it where she could gaze upon it for inspiration whenever the mood struck her. There could be no better compliment to an interior designer than that!

Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel Interiors+ Art Ltd., a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.

image credits: modern glass: Baldwin & Guggisberg, Wales, UK.