Pia Wüstenberg is well known for her mixed-material Stacking Vessels, combining blown glass, ceramic, turned wood and metal. They come in lots of different variations, all with wonderful bloated forms and are a brilliant exercise in mixing different craft skills.
Pia recently introduced a new evolution of the Stacking Vessel called Branch Bowls, which pairs a hand-blown glass bowl with a lid formed from a tree branch. There is a great video filmed by James Maiki called A Tale of Two Halves which gives a glimpse into how they are made. The film shows the mesmerising process of the two separate pieces being made and fitted together and highlights the craftsmanship that goes into making the work. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the video, although I confess that I love glass blowing and could happily watch it all day.
I interviewed Pia for a book project recently and thought I would include some extracts from the interview here. We were discussing her work and inspirations…
How did you get involved in design?
I studied a Foundation in Glass, Metal and Ceramic Design at SIAD in Farnham and a BA in Furniture Design and Craftsmanship at Bucks New University. I chose Furniture Design as I believe it is a versatile product requiring the most technical and material knowledge. Later I studied in London on the MA Design Products course at the Royal College of Arts. I set up my own studio following graduation.
How would you describe your style?
It is all about contrast. Everything I do is mixed-media, and the process and materiality of each media supports the other. All my work is handmade. I use traditional craft skills and traditional raw materials, such as wood, ceramic, glass and paper. The resulting objects contain the stories of their making and the traces of the materials origin. This makes them objects of desire.
What materials and techniques do you use?
I work with very raw and pure materials such as glass, ceramic, copper, wood and paper. These are processed using traditional craft techniques.
Are there any particular designer/artists/things that inspire you?
I really respect the work and philosophy of Kaj Franck and Jurgen Bey. I get inspiration from many things I see, it just depends on the mind frame I am in.
What are you working on at the moment and what do you hope to work on in the future?
At the moment, I am working on a collection of glass jewellery to hold scent. In the future, I hope to work more with glass, to challenge its application and the ways in which we normally find it used.
Have you noticed any particular trends in design lately?
I have noticed my friends investing in objects for life, rather than going for cheap, quick solutions.
What materials or techniques do you think we’ll be seeing more of in the future?
I believe there will be a return to pure materials and traditional skills. Mainly because I think we want fewer things, and for the things we do want , we have to be considered and durable.
What is your favourite piece of design by another designer?
The sewing needle, paperclip, can opener, fork and scissors. There are so many simple, clever things that do not have a shining name or famous designer behind them, and they are the most durable designs that we live with. These are the designs that move something in me, that challenge me to think, innovate and feel desire for objects.
Thank you Pia!