- Article by Natalie Mortimer
As glass lighting and installation company WonderGlass expands into Australia, ADR meets with co-founder Christian Mussati who discusses how a family passion for glass led to the creation of a unique business.
It was during a family Christmas in the Dolomites, Italy that the grain of a business idea was formed between father and son Maurizio and Christian Mussati. Both wanted to start a business together and both had a real passion for the beauty and craftsmanship of glass making.
“The year after that conversation my father said, ‘Okay, you remember the chat that we had last year? I think we should do it. We should go ahead’,” recalls Mussati.
And so WonderGlass was founded in 2013 to fuse traditional glass craftsmanship with contemporary design.
“A lot of artists are in love with glass because you can play with it so much,” says Mussati. “It’s a unique material because it’s very natural as an element. Plus, you have this feeling that you can connect with nature when you see glass and there is this component of light going through glass that creates beautiful refractions.
“We were in love with these aspects coupled with the fact there is the artisan/craftsmanship side that sometimes is not really well known. There is this misconception that all of this beauty [of glass] is confined to amazing Palazzos and super opulent chandeliers and we wanted to translate that into something very genuine and original.”
Both Maurizio and Christian arrived in design from a finance background. Maurizio was the director of Italian lighting manufacturer Flos and managing director of lighting at Dutch company Moooi. In 2008, Maurizio joined British design company Established & Sons as COO and acted as CEO until 2016.
Christian, meanwhile, spent a decade in finance at Morgan Stanley.
Despite being formed just six years, WonderGlass has already launched an impressive debut collection of lights designed by industry heavyweights Nendo, Jaime Hayon, Nao Tamura and Zaha Hadid.
The company also produces glass collections under its own name and runs WonderLab, a research department focusing on innovation, bespoke solutions and the blending of glass with other materials.
“WonderLab is how we identify the capabilities of glass and we rely on a team of people that have been in design for a long time,” explains Mussati.
“It’s where we like to always be receptive to new technology and we like to listen and to understand if there is anything that is new in the market. Horah by Raw Edges is a great example: Horah is a light fitting, but at the same time it’s an installation that is dynamic.”
For the Australian market, WonderGlass has created a bespoke series of glass installations for Living Edge: Alcova by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Flow[T] by Nao Tamura, Hollow by Dan Yeffet, Nasse by Marco Zito and BTM and Sleeve by John Pawson comprise the collection.
Despite building an impressive portfolio in such a short time span, Mussati is keen to keep the company small and take its time producing products that are designed to last.
“There are many companies that are forced to present X amount of product every year… Our approach is a bit different in the sense that we can’t afford to be involved in that kind of distribution because we are a relatively small company, but then we don’t even want to be involved because we want to take our time.”
For example, Luma by Zara Hadid took two and a half years to bring to life through prototyping and refining.
“Artists recognize this element of genuine passion for design and the concept behind. We have our list of people that we would want to talk to and it’s not necessarily because they’re a famous name or not famous, it might just be that it’s the right time or the right project,” says Mussati.