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NEWS

Over 100 years old iconic glass pieces from the Swedish Grace era come to life in new print series

Two of iconic glass company Orrefors’ biggest designers, Simon Gate and Edward Hald, reached international fame at the Paris Exhibition of 1925, where Orrefors presented at the Swedish Pavilion. Almost 100 years later, their drawings and works are transformed into printed pattern pieces for a special capsule by Tiger of Sweden.

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Edited by: Johan Magnusson

The artwork is depicting engraved glassworks by Simon Gate and Edward Hald designed for Orrefors during the Swedish Grace era. It’s developed in collaboration with Glasrikets Skatter.

— Swedish Grace, the design period spanning the 1910’s to the early 1930’s and encompassing architecture, design and art, was the theme for our Fall/Winter collection, says Christoffer Lundman, Creative Director. He continues:

— Our research invariably led us to Småland and the collections in Orrefors. Opening the archives was a mind-blowing experience. I had never connected the glass pieces I admired with the actual process of drawing and design. Not entirely sure how I imagined the magic to happen, but in front of me was the process documented in the smallest detail. In the case of Edward Hald’s ”Himmelsk Glob”, we can follow the process in hundreds of drawings. Ranging from doodles to detailed sketches, transfer drawings on light tissue paper to rube-offs detailing the finished work in the same way one would trace a coin through paper as a child. We are pleased to present a section of Hald’s drawings for ”Himmelsk Glob” alongside some beautiful work by Gate.

Here’s the full story behind:

In the summer of 1916, something of a miracle happened in the glass forge of Orrefors, situated in the forest of South Småland. At the beginning of the century, the little glass factory was mostly known for manufacturing window panes and jars for jam. But something big was in the making. In the hot glass forge of Orrefors, the glassblowing master Knut Bergqvist was filled with an almost manic desire for experimentation. In June 1916, he managed to create something that the world had never seen before – a glass with an intermediate layer of decor that seemed to float freely within the glass. To achieve this technique, a clear molten glass embryo is covered with several layers of colored glass with a decorative etching, and then covered by yet another layer of clear glass. When Bergqvist blew the molten glass, the object took a magic life of its own.

The creation was named after the ancient legend of the chalice that was filled with the blood of Jesus Christ after the crucifixion. According to the myth, the blood is miraculously encapsulated and becomes one with the Holy Grail. In the glass forge of Orrefors they believed that they had created a glass technique that mimicked the miracle. The creation of the graal (grail) glass marked the start of the glory days of Orrefors.

When Simon Gate came to Orrefors in 1916, and Edward Hald the year after, they became the apostles that would preach this miracle technique to the world. They were both artisans and painters, and Hald had recently been a student of Henri Matisse in Paris. Gate and Hald, both the same age, created a collaboration with Bergqvist that would take the graal techinique to the next level and place it prominently on the world stage. Simon Gate and Edward Hald blew life into the glass in a way that went beyond craftsmanship. The thin walled graal glass became well-known – the technique was so advanced that they did not need to patent it. No other glass artisans anywhere in the world could create the same type of glass. But Hald and Grate would not limit themselves to the graal glass – they would master the thin engraved glass to an even higher degree. As soon as they arrived at the glass forge they started experimenting with figure engraving. The artists renewed the art of etched glass, where the thousand year old technique and Neoclassicist design met modernity.

By the beginning of the 1920’s, Hall and Gate had already mastered the technique fully. In 1922, Simon Gate created the piece which is perhaps his most famous one – “Parispokalen” (the Paris Goblet). An 85 centimeter tall goblet in glass, the largest piece ever produced by Orrefors. The goblet was a gift from the city of Stockholm to Paris. It took 600 hours to create and was lavishly decorated with etchings.

At the Paris exhibition of 1925, the now world famous goblet got an honorary space in the Swedish showcase. Edward Hald received almost as much attention for his ”Fyrverkeriskål” (”Firework bowl”), which depicts a sparkling celestial sphere of fireworks far above a crowd of onlookers. Critic and researcher Sara Danius wrote ”The fireworks scene is an allegory of the unparalleled successes of Swedish glass in the Interwar Years.”

After being rewarded with the highest award, the Grand Prix, Simon Gate and Edward Hald were regarded as the modernizers of the glass art form. The glass was treated as a modern canvas where everything seemed to be possible: the classic shapes, the nuanced expressions of abstractionism and contemporary scenes. Hald excelled in the latter; his engraved bowl “Kaktusutställningen” (“the Cactus exhibition”) depicts women dressed in fashionable modern attire while perusing through a botanical exhibition. Simon Gate’s engravings leaned more towards the Baroque than scenes of contemporary daily life.

It was not until the late 1920’s that Edward Hald created his preeminent glass masterpiece, at a time when functionalism started to break through and the financial crisis had decreased the demand for luxury glass art. For the Stockholm exhibition of 1930, Hald created “Celestial Globe”, illustrating the mythological animal and human figures of the astronomical constellations. This final masterpiece, an ornate shimmering sphere, marked the end of Simon Gate’s and Edward Hald’s signature glass style.