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See How the Soda Tables Are Blown + Shaped by 3 Master Glassmakers

12.08.20 | By
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Italian brand Miniforms’ latest collaboration with Athens-based designer Yiannis Ghikas produced the Soda sculptural table made only of blown-glass. The complex design requires three master glassmakers working together in a Murano glass factory to create each table, which weigh in at approximately 55 lbs (25 kilos). The finished design is a single structure with three large petal-like columns that form the stem. Soda’s glass surfaces appear hammered which creates light and shadows depending on the angle it’s viewed from. The table’s unique shape piqued our interest in seeing more about how it was made so for this month’s Deconstruction, Miniforms is sharing more about the process.

Drafts always come first. Due to the Covid crisis, the designer Yiannis Ghikas had to work remotely from his Athens studio. We commissioned him to design a coffee table made entirely of glass. Indeed, this material was commonly used in the coffee table universe mixed with wood or metal but never on its own. We wanted something primitive, working with just one element. So, Yiannis began drawing.

He sent us a lot of exciting drafts. Eventually, we ended up with this shape, a statement of our values: iconic, bold and funky. We started to experiment with 3D printed prototypes to adjust the details.

As it’s made entirely in blown-glass, the making of Soda starts and ends in a Murano glass factory. When we first went to the furnace to present the design draft to the craftsmen they promptly said: “Yes, it’s tricky…but feasible”. The complex Soda shape required an accurate mold where multiple burners keep its temperature consistent. The making of Soda starts with heating the mold, a process that requires 2 hours.

In the meanwhile, an artisan starts to shape an 800° glass sphere, adding slowly and regularly little amounts of fused glass.

When the mold is hot enough, the glass sphere gets inserted into it. Soda is now a malleable drop of fused glass who waits to be blown.

Then the magic happens: a master glassblower starts to blow it. It’s a moment of pure alchemy, and few people master this ancient technique. It’s not a skill that you learn, but a know-how inherited from the family’s traditions.

After some minutes, the Soda shape is ready, and it’s time to lift it. At this point, its total weight is about 25 kilos (approximately 55 lbs!).

Even if the mold is totally smooth, the surface of the coffee table looks like it has been hammered. This effect is given by the fire, which temperature contrasts with the glass one. So, we have no control over the glass texture, accepting that it would stem from the skill of the artisanal process.

Soda rests for 5 hours to reduce its temperature to the natural state. Then, the journey is over.

Soda has a sculptural beauty. Named after one of the three main ingredients of glass, the Soda tables’ geometry allows the glass to play with light and shadow, creating different shapes as one’s perspective changes. This is the artistic value granted to an industrial product.

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.