THE HISTORY OF MURANO GLASS AND ITALIAN LIGHTING
Murano glass is recognised as being special the world over but what is the history behind it and how did it earn such a reputation, particularly in the lighting industry? The island of Murano is located just off the coast of Venice, Italy. Its location helped Venice to become a substantial trading port and the regular Asian and Muslim visitors helped to influence the style and culture of the inhabitants and in turn the lighting designs that they created. It is thought that glass has been made in Murano ever since the 7th century, however it is not until the 13th century that Murano’s place in history was established when all the Venetian glass blowers were moved from Venice over to Murano because of fears that the glass blowers may cause a fire that would spread from one wooden framed building to another, potentially wiping out most of Venice. By the 16th century almost half of the islands population were involved in the glass making industry. Ever since this time the skills of the glass blowers has increased allowing more and more intricate and beautiful designs to be created. The Italian government and education system has until more recently made efforts to preserve the significant reserves of craft skills which other countries might have neglected because they want to out-source to countries where it can be done more cheaply. The stunning designs of the Murano glass look even better when illuminated so it was only a matter of time before Italian lighting designers and Murano glass blowers got together to create some beautiful collections of Italian lighting. The Italian lights bring the vibrant colours in the Murano glass to life. The delicacy in the glass is matched by the intimacy of the hand painted metalwork of the Italian lighting. Each arm of the lights is carefully formed and shaped before it is painted. If you were to look at the arm of an Italian light fitting, often you can see the individual brush strokes of the artist. The combination of Italian lighting and Murano glass is one that works so well I am sure it will long continue. To view a collection of Italian lighting visit The Lighting Centre, Guildford or www.lightingcentre.co.uk.