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In his first collaboration with Lobmeyr glassworks of Vienna, the New York designer draws upon centuries of historical trends to create a distinctly modern collection that blends utility, beauty and wit.
“I tried to go back in time, to pre-stemware when glasses were both sensible and poetic. They celebrated the contents within,” he says. Muehling found beauty in the simple and utilitarian shapes of Roman and early European glass. He was also taken by the Vienna Secession period and the exquisitely thin pieces that Loos and Hoffman designed for Lobmeyr.
In fact, the convex and concave shapes beg to be held and caressed. Indentations in the bottom of each piece add another sensuous curve. And although he has designed some shapes with specific elixirs in mind (beer, cognac, schnapps, etc.), the glasses are meant to be multi-purpose.
Water and wine flow equally well from a simple form.
The embellishments on each glass also refer to the past. Muehling says the engravers and enamellers at Lobmeyr are unparalleled. “I thought this level of workmanship was lost in the 19th century.” Muehling reinterprets the classic monogram, with letters so large they are nearly abstract. The flourishes resemble the flight path of an insect. Some glasses even feature a fly or moth as punctuation.
Enamel paintings and engraving of insects draw upon the realism of artists Maria Sybilla Merian and Jacob Hoefnagel, and the goldfish and eyes stem from popular motifs of the Biedermeier period. Muehling appreciates the creativity and humor of these designs. Staring up from the bottom of a glass, the eye is a literal interpretation of the toast, ‘Here’s looking at you.’