On Venice and art with a local artisan
Venice holidays will feel incomplete without a visit to Murano Island and a workshop showing the artistic potential of the famous material.
Venice is known for many things, from the slowly sinking surface explored by gondolas to its endless armies of tourists crowding the narrow streets. But most of all, it is known for its beauty: the beauty of scenery, of architecture and artisan creations. Murano glass is probably the city’s most famous product, with the popular island still nurturing talented artisans. Beadmaker, designer and teacher, Davide Penso introduces lamp-working and jewellery design to students around the world, as well as curious tourists visiting his Murano atelier. And now, he shares the story of style and crafts in Venice.
Which 3 words would you use to describe your creations?
Minimalist, contemporary, exclusive.
Growing up on Murano Island, was glass artistry an early calling or an inherited passion?
I decided to work with glass late, after my first business, and just because was the media out the door.
An Italian artisan in one of the most famous Italian cities – is there room for local inspiration and heritage in your designs? Where do you find new ideas?
For sure the atmosphere in Venice is helpful but my main inspiration comes from the women wearing the jewellery.
With your work exhibited both in museums and jewellery boxes, how blurry is the line between fashion and art?
It is not my right to put a label on what is what, especially about my work. Often, people spend thousands of words on this, I let them speak… it is funny listening to them give more meaning and inspirations to objects than even the creator knew.
Having worked with brands from the high fashion world, how appreciated are these historic crafts in the present day?
It was an experience to do, so now I know that I don’t have to do it anymore. It doesn’t suit me this huge production. But I love the show and catwalk; my maximum expression is when I can combine women, jewellery and music.
From all of your unique pieces, what was the most challenging project you have worked on?
Definitely managing a 5-member family. Earning money from exclusive glass jewellery is until now the most difficult project.
Italian design is obviously appreciated, but Venice isn’t really at its core. How does local style look, from an insider’s perspective? Can Venice leave a unique mark on the fashion world?
Unfortunately/fortunately Venice is an old city where nothing new happens. But for sure Venice could be a wonderful location/window, where we can showcase fashion.
As a local insider, can you show us through your favourite places in town? Where can we find…
The best coffee in town: Rosa Salva in Sants Giovanni e Paolo
The most delicious food: Ai do farai
The ideal place to learn the secrets of Murano glass: Davide Penso Murano glass academy
The city’s best kept secret is: Just getting lost…
The three things we must see/try while in Venice are: Davide Penso atelier, a class with Davide Penso and a party with Davide Penso
If any of those last three sounds tempting, visit the artist’s website and schedule a class on your next holiday. And while you’re around, check out our Venice City Guide for more entertainment, shopping or sightseeing options.