Seeing Glass / Brit van Nerven + Sabine Marcelis // designer Q&A

A great start to a new year full of design inspiration, with 'Seeing Glass' a collaborative project by Brit van Nerven & Sabine Marcelis, both graduates of the Design Academy Eindhoven. They have produced a series of glass objects using existing materials and processes combined in new and unexplored ways, through the use of colour, layering and unexpected effects. I love the idea of playing with existing technology and stretching the possibilities. Beautiful objects producing interesting optical effects.

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What is the idea behind Seeing Glass?

Seeing Glass was designed for the exhibition 'Objects To Play' during Dutch Design Week 2013 (Within designers collective Objects Present www.objects-presents.com)

The main focus of this project really lies within the concept of 'playfulness'. Instead of objects to play 'with' we designed objects that play with you, the visual perception of seeing yourself en the surrounding space. 

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What inspired you to use glass?

We wanted to play with reflection and optical effects. Glass was a natural choice as the materiality allows for reflection and optical play. It was a material we both had worked very minimally with prior to this project and were interested in exploring the possibilities of the material.

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How did the collaboration between you two come about?

We both graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven and are living and working in the same studio in Rotterdam, so it just seemed a natural choice to collaborate given our complimentary skills yet similar design aesthetic and vision. Brit has a fashion background and is strong in subtleties of shapes, form and colour. Sabine has strong technical and material knowledge and had already worked with Van Dijken Glas on her graduation project 'TABLE-TABLE'. 

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Could you tell us about the design process of Seeing Glass?

We started experimenting with mirrors and glass in the studio to discover what the materials had to offer on a small scale.

We saw so much potential within our discoveries that we wanted to go larger scale which is when we approached Van Dijken Glass to see if they wanted to get involved. They kindly allowed us free reign inside their factory to experiment with the available materials and push the limits of their machines.

Using Sandblasting, UV gluing, laminating, layering, implementing different foils inside the glass layers and playing with colour overlays we found new combinations for their existing technology. We then had to get another party involved who specialize in applying the mirror layer on the glass in the traditional way using silver. During Dutch Design week 2013 we presented the first results of all these experiments in the series Seeing Glass. Now an edition of the pieces is available for sale. 

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Which difficulties did you experience working with this material?

After doing many many experiments inside our studio with small mirrors, different types of glass, paints, scratchings, we really had to admit that this was not a project we could complete ourselves as the material asked for sophisticated machinery to effectively create the object in the scale we wanted to present. This was maybe more a discovery than a difficulty.

Also because the process had not been executed prior to our experimentation and given the short time span, we kept our fingers crossed that everything would work out up until the very last minute.  And thankfully it did!

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What future projects can we expect from you as a duo?

We view this project as an ongoing study, so we are continuing work on the Seeing Glass series together. For Milan Salone Del Mobile 2014 we are working on a second edition of Seeing Glass as a continuation of the first series. We are both mostly working separately on our own projects so it is nice to combine our skills in the way of a collaboration. We would like to continue periodically like this and have plans to present a new project during Dutch Design Week 2014.

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What message would you like your work to convey?

Brit: Every concept asks for a different application and materiality. My work explores the fine line between fashion and product design and the translation of my narrative, poetic way of thinking into an abstract and minimal form language.

I like to show my strong need to create. 

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Sabine: I always strive to create objects or installations which initiate an interaction with the user. I see my designs as experiences, rather than mere static pieces, with functionality complimented through aesthetics at the core. 

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Regarding Seeing glass: The main message we wanted to convey was to reinterpret the idea of a mirror; Reflecting ones image in unexpected and surprising ways. Not only the reflections created are unexpected and surprising, but the objects alone are distinctive in themselves because of the thickness, colour and layering effects of the glass. Reflection as an object -interacting with the user and surrounding space. 

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Thanks to Brit & Sabine all images courtesy of the designers