Strange Symphony
by Philipp Weber

| 2 comments

German designer Philipp Weber's glassblowing pipe with valves like a trumpet won the New Talents Award at DMY Berlin last week (+ movie).

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Weber updated an object that has been largely unchanged for 2,000 years by adding a set of valves that enable the glassblower to influence the inner shape of the material by opening and closing different air streams.

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"As I started out, the question was how could I work on the inner shaping of the glass – it was a technical approach," Weber told Dezeen. "The relation between the glassblower and his tool is very important, since it bridges his connection to the material," he adds. "What if I change the tool? Does it change the material?"

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Strange Symphony was Philipp Weber's graduation project at Design Academy Eindhoven and was tested by Belgian glassblower Christophe Genard, who Weber says was enthusiastic about the new possibilities it offered him.

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"I guess it was the playfulness it provoked in him; in the later stage he went wild on the glass," says Weber. "It was as if I was watching a jazz performance. I think and hope he gained another and different perspective on approaching glassmaking through this project."

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The DMY International Design Festival Berlin is one of the stops on our Dezeen and MINI World Tour, and we'll be publishing more stories and videos from the event in the next few days.

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Last week a glass pendant with a tiny brass chandelier inside it was presented at ICFF in New York, while Norwegian designers StokkeAustad and Andreas Engesvik created a series of blown-glass trees for Stockholm Design Week earlier this year – see all stories about glass.

Here are some more details about the project:


In 'Creation of a strange Symphony' Philipp Weber portrays the performance of a glassblower using a new and unusual tool.

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Pivotal to this work was Weber's desire to discover the world of a glassblower. In Belgium he was able to watch glassblower Christophe Genard working with the hot material. The designer questioned himself, 'How can I inspire his interest to work with me?'.

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Genard's most important tool, the blowing pipe, caught Weber's attention. In the past 2000 years only minor alterations have been made to the 1.5m long steel pipe, with no effect to the material. 'What would happen to the glass if the function of this tool radically changed? How would Christophe adapt to a new pipe?'.

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And so, by manipulating the pipe, he took influence on the inner shaping of the glass.

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Simultaneously to this process, Weber also sensed a strong rhythm and musicality in the way Genard was working on the glass. The pipe as a tool for glass production, appeared to be like a musical instrument to him.

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He could not resist the idea to translate the mechanism of a trumpet into an application for blowing glass.

Together with an engineer and the knowledge from preceding experiments for a new tool, he worked on an 'instrument' – an allegoric bond of craft and music – inspiring Genard to 'improvise' the glass, to start a dialogue with the material.

Playing the valves, Genard would shape the glass from inside, activating different air streams. The transformation of the pipe into an instrument provoked a performance of glass making. A short-movie, several glass objects and the instrument itself communicate this dance with the fire.

  • Fed

    This is what I call genius. Unlike all that bird-shaped b******* that Dezeen publishes.

  • tin

    Okay. He invented a tool that enables him to create… what exactly is it? I mean, it is interesting, but for what? It looks like a vase, but he’s not even saying it is one. And if it was a vase, well… he created a vase, how relevant is that?! If he can apply this process to something where it actually makes sense and is not just used to create an interesting look then it can become interesting.

    Who says design starts at the product and why is it better to start at the tool? Shouldn’t it start at the people and their needs?