Brandolini d'Adda in his palazzo in Venice. Photo credit: Danilo Scarpati.
Influenced by the past but not beholden to tradition, Marcantonio Brandolini d’Adda has asserted himself within Murano, Italy’s glassmaking community, and has contributed a truly contemporary approach to the centuries-old tradition. Brandolini d’Adda is not just an artist and designer, but at his core, he is an entrepreneur. He currently manages LagunaB, the glassware company that his mother started in 1996. While at the helm of the company, he has retained and propelled one of its defining traits: chic and playful glasses created by local craftspeople. But he has slightly shifted the aesthetic narrative of the company and rebranded it for the 21st century. In addition to selling its lines of glassware, the company produces one-off pieces and has executed larger interdisciplinary projects that combine Brandolini d’Adda’s unique glassworks with film, music, and dance. As part of this drive to rethink the current state and future of glassmaking, he established AUTONOMA in Murano along with Seattle’s Pilchuck School of Glass. The exchange program describes itself as “an international community and cultural space in Murano that attracts and nurtures the next generation of glass artists.” All of these projects, whether from a business or artistic perspective, are part of Brandolini d’Adda’s balance between maintaining Italy’s tradition of exquisite glasswork and presenting glass to a new generation of buyers and collectors.
Making one of Brandolini d'Adda's vessels in Murano. Photo credit: Danilo Scarpati.
PHILLIPS: Is there a specific space or object within your home or studio that you draw inspiration from, or return to, when thinking about new ideas for your work?
MARCANTONIO BRANDOLINI D'ADDA: At the moment, I’m working in a small studio space that is connected to my bedroom in my house in Venice. The room was designed by Mongiardino, it’s quite cool as is totally covered in frescos. But when it becomes too heavy and antique for me, I go out onto my small balcony overlooking the Grand Canal, where there are always seagulls screaming, which I find very relaxing.
Brandolini d'Adda's sketches and experiments in the studio. Photo credit: LAGUNAB MEDIA.
P: When deciding which materials you use in your work, what are the most important factors you consider? Are there any materials you’d like to explore next that you haven’t tried yet?
MBA: Until now, I’ve mostly worked with glass. I grew up in Venice, with glass around me at all times. My mother started the glass company that I now run - LagunaB - in 1996. Glass is the material that I found most suitable for translating my thoughts into a physical piece. In the future, I would really like to work with plants and microorganisms.
Brandolini d'Adda's exhibition at ALMA ZEVI (Venice) in 2017. Photo credit: Enrico Fiorese for LAGUNAB MEDIA.
P: What challenges do you often face in your design or creative process?
MBA: I am constantly having so many ideas that my biggest challenge is actually to stay concentrated on just one idea at a time! Luckily my super gallerist and friend Alma Zevi is always there to talk the ideas through with me. We’ve collaborated together on many projects, including exhibitions in Venice and New York.
I am also challenging myself to create something without generating extra impact on the environment. To do this you need knowledge - it’s a challenge looking for people that are ready to help you. For example, I’m working on a new project with the University of Padova, who is great for technical (and inspirational) support.
Brandolini d'Adda working in the furnace in Murano. Photo credit: Danilo Scarpati.
P: Having to step away from your usual day to day schedule, is there a book/film/project you’ll take this opportunity to begin (or return to)?
MBA: On a typical (meaning pre-lockdown) day, I am usually jumping around all over the place, and I am never sitting for more than half an hour. So now I’m taking the opportunity to apply my full concentration to reassessing what I have done in the last few years and strategize for the future. In the last few years. I’ve been producing a lot of content – both digital and written - and we are now trying to archive it all. I’ve also had the time to start studying for a captain's license for boats!
P: Where is the future of your practice headed?
MBA: The future I see now is filled with exciting opportunities - Venice is at a turning point as a city facing a huge crisis. The crisis started long ago, and now with the current situation we are facing, I believe the city must finally re-invent itself. I am especially passionate about doing this in two ways: the first is innovation in craft, the second is the regeneration of the natural environment. These could become very important elements in the identity of the city moving forward.