Venini

The name of Venini first appears in the annals of Murano in 1921, together with that of Cappellin. The furnace, Cappellin Venini & C. began from an idea of the atypical characters in this field, Giacomo Cappellin, Venetian antique dealer, and Paolo Venini, Milanese attorney. First artistic director was the painter Vittorio Zecchin who took inspiration from classical models of 1400’s and 1500’s for a production without frills and pure, using transparent and light colours.
In 1925, in spite of the success obtained, the society split, due to disputes between the partners, into Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini & C. and Maestri Vetrai Muranesi Cappellin & C.
The role of art director with the new Venini company was taken by sculptor Napoleone Martinuzzi, who created a new type of glassware, his pulegoso glass. He worked with Venini until 1932, when Paolo Venini began to take an increasingly active part in the artistic development of the firm, together with his friend, the architect Tomaso Buzzi. Another new comer in those years was Carlo Scarpa, destined to become a key figure in the history of the firm. Another coup brought off by Paolo Venini, in 1935, was to invite the collaboration of a successful Swedish artist, the ceramicist Tyra Lundgren: she concentrated on figures of fishes, birds and leaves. Carlo Scarpa invented new techniques that meant a revolution in the production: for examples the sommersi, corrosi, tessuti, battuti, granulari and the new murrine. Anticipating the creativity explosion of 1950’s, Scarpa designed the “a pennellate” vases, “a fili” and zigrinati. He parted company with Venini in 1947, to devote himself entirely to his architectural interests. After a brief collaboration with Gio Ponti, who designed several new products lines for the firm, at the 1948 Venice Biennale Venini presented the work of the young artist Fulvio Bianconi. At the 1951 Milano Triennale, the critics paid a great deal of attention to the pezzati, “ a fasce”, “a inclusioni”. In these years several important artists collaborated with Paolo Venini, for example, Eugene Berman, Ken Scott and Lyn Tyssot.
In 1959 Paolo Venini died. The new director became his son-in-law, Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, who was able to continue the spirit of innovation and research that is the most important trait of Venini firm. The 1960’s brought two new outstanding figures to Venini: the young Toni Zuccheri (famous for his “Bestiario”) and the Finn Tapio Wirkkala. Special mention is for the American Thomas Stearns, and Mario Ticcò and Tobia Scarpa who gave a great input to the success of Venini.
In 1972, the works offices caught fire and in no time the whole structure was engulfed in flames. Almost all the samples, prototypes and the archives were destroyed. It was a serious blow to the firm, but years later with new capital, Venini firm achieved to start again. Nowadays, it is still the most important glassworks in Murano, being able to follow and anticipate the changes in the modern design with collaboration of the most important contemporary designers and architects.

Rita Fancsaly - 20th 21st Century Design - Via Brera, 6 - 20121 Milan Italy - P.I. 04073060966