For Salone del Mobile 2022, Bethan Gray shared her ‘Inky Dhow’ universe, an installation of furniture, textiles, rugs, hand blown glass and ceramics, with those who visited Rossanna Orlandi’s eponymous gallery in Milan’s Magenta district.
The pièce de résistance at the show was, however, the debut of Bethan Gray’s collaboration with design-led lighting studio Baroncelli. Unveiled during the show for the first time, the ORION SWIRL and POLARIS SWIRL pieces feature individually mouth blown Murano glass spheres in blue, white and clear glass stripes, echoing the flowing lines of Bethan’s painterly Inky Dhow design.
The new collection enticed all the senses whilst demonstrating the exquisite craftsmanship and innovative techniques imbued into every piece Bethan designs.
“The new lighting is an adaptation of Baroncelli’s existing FLEXUS series – it was a design I thought went really well with our collection, in the way it combines traditional Murano mouth blown glass techniques with contemporary brass highlights, which sit perfectly alongside my own pieces,” says Bethan.
For Bethan, the striped shadow play that comes from light filtering through the sphere’s clear strips also perfectly ties the collection to where they are made, evoking thoughts of the swirling stripes of Venice’s candy-striped ‘paline de casada’ mooring poles, and Bethan’s own long-held love of stripes inspired by her travels, from the monochrome marble patterning of Italian cathedrals to 13th century Persian ceramics.
Making each individual sphere has been a feat of engineering within itself, given the volatile nature of glass and “the challenge of combining different colours with varying expansion coefficients, meaning each colour will expand at a different rate,” explains Giovanni Corrado, Creative Director of Baroncelli.
“First, a cylinder of colours is created by laying out alternate strips of blue, white and clear glass which is then placed on to a blowing rod and coated with a clear glass to give it a beautiful sheen,” he furthers. “Then the maestro starts to blow it out, evening out the texture and ensuring there are no faults in the glass; this is then placed within a custom-designed mould made of local pear wood to ensure each sphere is blown precisely to the right size, otherwise it won’t fit within its consequent metal frame.”
The lighting series completes Bethan Gray’s Inky Dhow universe, pieces that celebrate intricate, time-honoured techniques injected with a fresh, modern edge as executed through Bethan’s unique lens. Inky Dhow will travel to London for the London Design Festival where visitors will experience it in an entirely new setting.