Murano, its ancient furnaces, and the Carlo Moretti "artisan factory", which has been refining the art of glass-making for more than half a century, preserving the great legacy of the master glass-makers as it moves towards the future. Find out more in our interview with Antonio Ceschel, General Manager of the long-established company.
he history of glass-making in Venice stretches back over 1000 years, but it was only from 1291 onwards that the trade relocated to Murano. This was due to a historic decree issued by the city's government aimed at preventing the frequent and catastrophic fires caused by the furnaces of the glassworks.
This "exile" ended up making the fortune of the densely-populated district that lies at the centre of the Venetian Lagoon. Since that fateful day, their entire economy has revolved around the art of glass-making.
And when it comes to Murano glass, Carlo Moretti is one of the first names that springs to mind.
We met Antonio Ceschel, General Manager of the company, who took the reins in 2013 and is now steering it in a new direction, guiding it towards the future while remaining firmly in touch with the age-old traditions of the master glass-makers.
"We use technology a great deal to control the production process, by monitoring furnace temperatures, the density and viscosity of the glass, and our atmospheric emissions," he explains. "But the process itself remains the same as it always has been. We're technology enthusiasts, but at heart we're still artisans".
The company's identity was created by Carlo Moretti and his brother Giovanni, who started out in 1958.
The brothers built on the legacy of the family business, which specialised in producing technical glass for the chemical and healthcare industries. With his highly creative approach and his passion for northern European design, Carlo was responsible for the turning point that would determine the company's fate. It was the start of a story that even today, almost 60 years later, ensures that the company remains the finest example of what it calls an “artisan factory”, producing mouth-blown and hand-finished glassware in limited numbers and experimenting with shapes and materials.
We're technology enthusiasts, but at heart we're still artisans
But how do you judge the quality of glass? You need to examine the cutting point - for example, the edge of a glass - under a light to ensure that it remains transparent, without hints of blue or grey. And Carlo Moretti’s glass proves itself to be of the highest quality.
Truth be told, credit must be given to the work of Cesare Moretti, the "third brother" who always remained outside the company. "Cesare was a chemist," Ceschel explains, "and thanks to his great skills he managed to keep the quality and the colours of Carlo Moretti glass consistent despite the very variable raw materials, whose output changes dramatically depending on the supplier".
So is quality just a question of chemistry? "Chemistry is based on formulas and certainties, but often the solutions to a problem are found thanks to the experience amassed from generation to generation. That's the romantic aspect of this job".
Among the historic pieces at the Murano showroom is a very special trio of transparent and asymmetrical vases, part of the items kept at the MOMA in New York where they represent Italian design. "Asymmetrical forms are our trademark," Ceschel confirms.
"Everything comes from the master's ability to keep the thickness constant, a gift that is achieved via a catalogue of errors, disasters and waste, until you reach perfection. That's the cost of training for us, if you will".
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