Tuesday August 14, 2018 | by Olivia Ryder

New hand-blown glassware line touts simplicity, provides insight into craftsmanship as selling tool in 2018

One should never underestimate the power of glassblowing to transfix an audience. But beware of overestimating it, either. A tasteful website for a new line of mouth-blown wineglasses keeps the theatrical presentation of the wonders of glassblowing to a bunch of still photographs and a minute-and-a-half video, but the process is still there to establish the craftsmanship behind a new line of glassware. A partnership with perhaps England's most-prominent wine critic, Jancis Robinson, the new Jancis Robinson Glassware Collection by designer Richard Brendon is his latest "heritage craft" undertaking. This spare product seeks to simplify the wine glass choices (see, in contrast, Reidel's highly successful varietal-specific glassware) and not only claims to provide the best single wine glass shape for all wines from champagne to port, but it also touts the refined craftsmanship behind the mouth-blown crystal glass from the skilled artisans of Bohemia. This collection offers one wine glass, two beautiful decanters (one for young and one for old wine) and a water glass that could double as a stemless wine glass, meticulously designed, and expertly crafted to look and feel refined, elegant and timeless. With recent high-profile coverage in the New York Times, this is an instructive look at the marketing and presentation of hand-blown glassware that could serve as a snapshot of best practices in 2018.

Richard Brendon was launched in 2013 after founder Brendon, an aesthetic perfectionist, released his signature "Reflect" collection inspired by the antique British porcelain he encountered while working at a pub on Portobello Road. Noticing how many more antique saucers had survived than their companion teacups, he set out to make the saucers relevant and valuable again by designing mirrored cups that reflect any pattern upon which they sit.

Believing in collaboration between experts, Brendon proposed a partnership to Jancis Robinson, a prominent British wine expert who's written about wine since 1975 and has received such accolades as an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen, whose cellar she now advises. Other companies sell wine glasses in all different shapes, sizes and weights in order to maximize on potential pleasure of the wine to enhance the color, strength, bubbles and flavor but Jancis writes on her blog that she has dedicated her life to making wine as “approachable and as pleasurable as possible and sincerely believes that just one glass for all wines makes perfect practical sense.”

Robinson had a few requirements for the wine glass to succeed as an all encompassing vessel; she explains in writing: “gossamer-thin glass with a particularly thin rim to put the taster in as close communication with the liquid as possible; a stem that is tall enough to allow even the big-handed to swirl comfortably without affecting the temperature of the wine, but thick enough to preclude easy breakage, and short enough to fit easily into a dishwasher and on a shelf in a normal domestic cupboard; dishwasher-friendly; a generous bowl going in towards the rim that captures the all-important aroma and allows energetic swirling to encourage it with no danger of losing any wine over the rim, but is not so wide as to make storage difficult, or measures of wine look mean; an opening at the top that is big enough for the big-nosed but not so big that spillage would be a problem; a capacity that yields maximum surface area with an average pour of about 125 ml; and a flat base, obviously.”

In conjunction with this new glass series Brendon and Robinson have delivered a product that brings awareness to the craftsmanship of Bohemia, marketing their new collection through a contemporary portrayal of the timeless tradition of glassblowing and those painstaking steps that go into each lead crystal glass vessel. A series of photographs and a short, less than two-minute video [below] highlights the painstaking steps necessary to each glass. The new collection provides an easily digestible format, without the hassle of participating in the heat and the sweat, for online customers to experience for themselves the incredible craftsmanship required to make each piece, taking you step by step through the process of crystal creation.  

Their new line is for sale now at Harrods and online at richardbrendon.com and will be officially launched in the United States in October. The luxurious, handmade, mouth-blown items provide a thin and sturdy delivery of wine to palette as well as presentation of traditional crafts to contemporary viewers.

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.