Fabio Fornasier, is a master glassmaker from Murano: his chandelier LUMurano is certainly his most admired and acknowledged creation, thanks to the masterfully crafted glass elements that seem to be always in movement, changing aspect according to the view point of the observer.
What is your background and your professional training?
I started working with my father in 1979 at the age of 16. At that time I did not think that glassmaking would become my profession. I fell into it almost by chance: at school I was a negligent student, and my parents sent me to the furnace almost as a sort of a punishment. I immediately fell in love with this job: it became the profession I love and that I still practice with great passion. When I started working with my father, no specialized schools existed for this type of job. My first teacher was my father who, unfortunately, passed away shortly after I joined the furnace. I had to start quickly my own experimental way of working glass, and I think I can really define myself a self-trained artisan.
When did you realize that you would dedicated your life to the realization of glass artworks?
Immediately. From the moment I entered the furnace, and I understood what my father was capable of creating, a fantastic scenario opened in front of me: I felt that this job would become my world. I was fascinated by this work, by all the experimental possibilities that the glass can offer.
Glassmaking is a time-honoured tradition in Murano. How do you blend the Muranese tradition with contemporary experimentation?
My father used to create Venetian chandeliers which were very elaborated: flowers, leaves, many details. This is an extremely old technique which is still relevant: when you master this art you are able to craft marvelous objects. It’s a centuries-old tradition, and it’s not so easy to bring in innovative solutions. This has been my challenge: to combine creativity and originality with a traditional technique, blending the inspirations of contemporary art with our Muranese roots.
Is contemporary art an important source of inspiration for you?
I am a very curious person, and I like to experiment. I am a friend of Richard Meitner, an American glass artist who teaches in Portugal. He has often told me that the Muranese technique is fantastic and very refined, but that I should move from that and simply: from his piece of advice I understood where I should invest in my own research.
And what inspires the shapes of your chandeliers?
I was in Austria at an event, and I had decided that I didn’t want my chandelier to be electrically lit: I did not want to exhibit something which had already been seen. I wanted a different kind of light, as in the past: this required a container for the oil, that candles would consume while burning. While I was having dinner in a restaurant I designed the prototype: this was the starting point of LUMurano.
Which is your favorite object, out of the ones you created?
The one that I will craft tomorrow. I never refuse challenges. I love to be both a creative person and a master artisan, combining design and know-how. I love every artwork that I make, and in particular “Aria e Fuoco” (Air and Fire, ndr.), an oil-lit chandelier which I consider a sorto of prototype of my production.
You have participated to workshops, performances, international exhibitions. Is there an episode that you remember in particular?
In 1996, during an edition of the international event “Aperto vetro” (Opened glass, ndr.), I was awarded as the best young artist of the year. My creation was a bunch of flowers: something that at time was not so commonly found, in the Muranese tradition. It was a vase with a bunch of roses: no one had ever created something similar.
Is there a request that surprised you particularly?
“I have received several bizarre requests, but the most curious and the most difficult to achieve was an enormous octopus, which I had to craft for some very important American clients who wanted it for their yacht. This creation was very particular, and there were various challenges: the height of the room, the vibration of the engine... I studied and experimented a great deal before creating the final object.
Which aspect of your work still makes you happy?
The feedback from my clients. But the best thing is to arrive into my furnace every morning, and see what I created the day before. The curiosity to wake up early in the morning and see how a creation has come out, is what still fascinates me.
What recommendation would you like to give to a young person who would like to pursue your career?
They must do it. The glass master has never been considered a good profession: the image of the craftsman is often presented in a not interesting way. I want to demonstrate that glassmaking is a noble, well-paid and satisfying job. The glassmakers not only use their hands with dignity, but are also creative. They can become designers themselves, putting in their works creativity, originality and experimentation; they are also businessmen, and they must therefore have a wide and complete vision of their activity, trying to combine good technique and business spirit in order to reach important results.