Friday Five with Joel Berman

Vancouver-based Joel Berman has been one of the leading innovators in the glass design world since 1970, honing his skills with handcrafted, artisanal glass. His techniques have paved the way for architectural glass, heightening it to art and sculptural territories. Just recently, he completed his most ambitious work to date in Qatar for the brand new Hamad International Airport, creating 5.5 kilometers (over 3.4 miles) of patterned art glass, making it the world’s largest architectural art glass project so far. Where does he get his inspiration? From art, design, and his many heroes. Let’s take a look at what Berman sees as perfection through his own eyes, in this week’s Friday Five.


1. Perfect place: Pender Island is a family retreat. Every summer for the past 26 years we go to this “Rembrandt” location with binoculars for three weeks of eagles, ospreys, orca whales, dolphins and song birds. I like to sketch here, and after traveling the world for work most of the year, this is my hermitage.


2. Perfect music: Nick Cave is one guys’ music I really love. Whether it’s ballads, rock or punk, Nick Cave is one helluva storyteller.

Photo by Russell Johnson

Photo by Russell Johnson

3. Perfect glass: Lino Tagliapietra, is the maestro – plain and simple. Lino is THE living master of glass blowers. His blown glass pieces are truly master works of art. A few years ago in Chicago, with my son, an art student at the time, I stumbled on a gallery preparing for an exhibition of Lino’s work. The show hadn’t opened yet. I went inside only to have the curator take me to a darkened space, turn on the lights, there before me were three rooms filled with a retrospective of Lino’s work. He left telling me to lock up after I was done. Lino’s glass left me in tears as I was so overcome with emotion.


4. Perfect Food: Vancouver’s The Juice Truck; India, Nepal, and New York inspired cold pressed juices, and smoothies make wellness taste great.

Image courtesy of Harper Collins

Image courtesy of Harper Collins

5. Perfect Escape: Anything that makes me laugh combined with a clever delivery is a perfect escape. Right now I’m reading The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden, same author as The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared; by Jonas Jonnason. It’s a tantalizing comedic read that travels through time and coincidence, it’s guaranteed for a good yuk, especially if you like an unusual track on history and its characters.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.