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Aristide Najean’s glass sculptures – a new modernity in chandeliers

January 5, 2016

ArtsSculpture | by Harry Seymour

When one thinks of Venetian glass, images of grand pastel coloured chandeliers I strict symmetrical forms are what usually comes to mind. However one man, Aristide Najean has set out on a mission to literally smash the mould.
The Grill at the Dorchester Hotel, Chandelier by Aristide Najean.
The Grill at the Dorchester Hotel, Chandelier by Aristide Najean.
Chandeliers are objects of both form and function – they represent as necessity of providing light within an interior setting, but since the beginning of their use, they have transcended their mere form and become objects of beauty, and art. Their grandiose form exceeds their practical value – it’s conspicuous consumption and a show of wealth – an objective “my light source is better than your light source”. Their flowing arms disseminate the light, scattering it from its source across the space of an interior. Yet as providers of light within darkness, they have a home in every house. Glass by its very nature creates an excellent material for these pieces – their chemical composition means they can handle the heat and can be moulded in to an infinity of shapes and colours, whilst glistening and shimmering when lit through its semi-transparent body. In medieval churches different coloured glass in chandeliers signified the liturgy of the day and would illuminate the church through a glow of perhaps green or red. The French artist Astride Najean is currently causing a scene in Italy, where he is creating some of the most beautiful glass chandeliers ever seen, yet with a very contemporary twist.
Aristide Najen's studio in Murano, Italy.
Aristide Najen’s studio in Murano, Italy.

Growing up he was a connoisseur of all things art – he studied anatomy drawing, painting, architecture, fresco, and copper plate engraving while travelling Europe, often examining subjects on the outskirts of society – bullfighting, alcohol and gambling. However it was glass that finally stuck with him. After a meeting with Philippe Starck in Murano in 2008, Starck invited him to work on a series of commissions that lead to a turning point in Najean’s work. Soon enough, his glass was in demand by the world’s most famous designers, architects and collectors, such as the Dorchester Hotel in London and the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Chandelier by Aristide Najean
Chandelier by Aristide Najean

In 2015 he took over a run down studio on the Venetian island of Murano, completely redeveloping the interior in his signature style – a space that enables him to push the boundaries of both his creativity and the physical capabilities of glass as a material. As the only French person on the island, Najean is up against a strong Italian tradition – the glass makers of the island inherit a legacy of many hundreds of years, which has strict rules and forms. However Najean is helping push this tradition in to modernity.

Najean’s glass forms are vibrant in their colours – eschewing the traditional muted natural tones for vibrancy. The linear forms become twisted in to organic flowing limbs and the pieces seem to ephemerally melt before the viewer. They often appear ghostly – vapid forms that transcend what seems to be physically possible, an effect often enhanced through the addition of a glowing light source. They stay true to their historical Murano roots and form and function collide in these striking beautiful pieces of glass sculpture.


By Benjamin Andre