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Lucia Massari freezes food ‘Toppings’ in glass lamps
Toppings I
Image: Francesco Allegretto

Lucia Massari freezes food ‘Toppings’ in glass lamps

The glass lamps, sculpted using Venetian mirrored glass are playful pieces that snatch away the seriousness associated with regular everyday objects.

by Almas Sadique
Published on : Nov 24, 2022

Bordering on the absurd, product designer Lucia Massari’s Venetian glass experiments are an attempt at presenting traditional objects and practices in a new visage. Massari has previously worked with fabric, leather, plastic and other popular materials in tandem with glass to build homeware objects that stray away from typical configurations and appearances. The designer, based in Venice, Italy, manipulates materials by splashing them in atypical colours and transforming them into shapes that are uncharacteristic to their materiality. Her most recent collection, Toppings, is a collection of lamps inspired by the creamy frosting topped on confectionary food items. Crafted using a combination of tinted Venetian mirrored glass and decorative glass curls and pins, the lamps bear a striking resemblance to bejewelled objects manufactured for decoration.

Delineating the source of inspiration behind Toppings, the Italian designer says: “The collection is inspired by food toppings. Layers of food piled upon each other make for an appealing and tasteful visual experience. Glass has a texture that can resemble candy or cream. It can be layered on top of Venetian glass as a decorative ornament.” Crafted in collaboration with renowned Italian mirror brand Barbini Specchi Veneziani, Toppings, with its non-traditional form and extravagant ornamentation compels a second glance.

Toppings II
Toppings II Image: Francesco Allegretto
Toppings III
Toppings III Image: Francesco Allegretto

Massari creates designs with the goal of reimagining traditional craft techniques and styles for the modern era. “I design furniture and ordinary objects that teeter between two and three dimensions, expressing the need to be surrounded by objects that detach some layer of seriousness often associated with the concept of design,” Massari asserts. She usually picks out dubious art and design works to draw inspiration from. The result is a body of work that refuses to remain serious or boring and instead invites the user and the viewer to explore, play, and engage with it.

Massari’s works comprise a potpourri of creations that are buoyant and vivacious. The designer loves working with colours, patterns and materials to create quirky and abstract objects. “When you work with decoration you don’t have to be afraid of going full on with it,” she says about the Toppings lamps, which resemble coloured cream and frosting garnished upon a base. “Glass is essentially colour to me, and this is a common ground to any of my work. It is the nature of glass pieces to capture, reflect, and refract the colours incident on them, especially with glass pieces, for their nature of capturing light which is the essence of colours,” Massari adds.

Toppings IV
Toppings IV Image: Francesco Allegretto

Massari began her collaboration with Barbini Specchi Veneziani a few years ago. While she initially surmised that mirrors are a difficult material to work with on account of their flat and reflective surface, her exploration of the material and the craft led her to discover the hidden potential of Venetian glass. Some of her previous experiments with glass have resulted in a series of mirrors that bear the countenance of cheerful characters.

“I am inspired by everything that has colours and uses decorations as a way of expressing amusement, and pieces that are created to remould the way we normally see things,” the designer asserts. Her early mirror works, inspired by the works of the Italian Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo and characterised by craftwork elements typically used on Venetian mirrors, were more literal in their messaging. Swirls, rosettes, leaves, and flowers, shaped out of glass, took the positions of eyes, nose, hair, and beard communicating a genial expression, while also inducing it with a tint of irony and levity.

Detail of Toppings II
Detail of Toppings II Image: Francesco Allegretto
Detail of Toppings III
Detail of Toppings III Image: Francesco Allegretto

Massari explains: “The more I work with mirrors, the more I discover the different translations on the subject.” Toppings, her most recent collection, bears the imprint of this evolution. Defined by subtle geometric shapes that come alive with the sheen and shine of glass, their abstract design makes them suitable enough to occupy any locale, from a candy shop to a country house. The light bulbs, juxtaposed against the reflective surface of the mirrors, make for an illuminating spectacle. The lamps' textured mirror prevents glare from being produced by the light’s reflection. Instead, their surfaces take on different colours when light bulbs of different colours are affixed to them or when one exposes them to natural light.

Detail of Toppings IV
Detail of Toppings IV Image: Francesco Allegretto

The pieces, made out of a wood base, textured glass affixed to it and small glass decorations dotting and detailing the lamp design, are an exceptional example of precise craftsmanship. All the parts of each lamp—from the wooden base to the minuscule glass entities and needles—are handmade, making every individual piece unique.

Massari plans to continue this experimental journey with Venetian glass to build a larger family of limited edition bespoke utilitarian objects.

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