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The Weight of Blue: An Exploration in Craft

In February, design collective Outofstock travelled to Bavaria, Germany on a one week ‘sabbatical’ to work on a series of glass objects with the craftsmen from 450-year-old glass factory Freiherr von Poschinger Glasmanufaktur. The results were shown in a solo exhibition titled “The Weight of Blue” at Outofstock’s The Workshop Gallery in Singapore earlier this month. We find out more.

The Weight of Blue: An Exploration in Craft


August 29th, 2013

The Weight of Blue

The Weight of Blue

What made you decide to embark on this project?

Wendy Chua of Outofstock: The Workshop Gallery has really evolved. It is [now a means for us to explore] design methods – the different ways of approaching design. So rather than saying, “I want to design a table now, we say okay, we’re going to spend five days in the workshop, and we’ll see what happens.” The Weight of Blue is our first such project, and we’re going to try to do this every year.

With this project, we started with the Weight of Blue vases, where we had the [copper] ring [crafted by Singaporean craftsman Mr Yee Chin Hoon] captured in the mould. Basically, the idea was to have a part of the mould [the ring] in the final outcome.

The Weight of Blue

Sculpting the glass gob

The Weight of Blue

The copper ring is prepared; cut, lathed and polished

What were the outcomes of that one-week workshop?   

WC: There were a lot of things that we explored. The Weight of Blue vases, [for example, came about when] we started experimenting with colours.

With this project, [we were] trying to materialise the number of years it takes to achieve a certain skill. We know that achieving colours in glass can take the craftsmen almost 7 – 10 years to master. And some of [the Poschinger craftsmen] have 25 years of experience. We wanted to show this and there’s no better way to do so than through a spectrum of glass colours so that you understand how they actually achieve it.

The Weight of Blue

The making of Clouds

The objectives, as well as thought and work processes of a designer are quite different from that of a craftsman. How did you guys work together?

WC: If I have to say what we are really designing, it would be a framework; we are designing a way that the exploration can happen. So for instance we’ll say, “Okay, there’s going to be this ring in the mould and you can blow [the glass into] it, but you will give us a spectrum of blue, and it’s up to you to control the colour.”

Take [the] Clouds [project] as another example. Here we said, “Okay, try blowing with this mould, but explore whatever you want at the top.” This is what I mean by designing a framework. And it’s really nice because [this project] merges one form by the designer with one by the craftsman.

 [The craftsmen] are [often] trying to adhere to what the designer thinks is perfect. But [in craft], there is no such perfection. [So instead], what we really wanted to do was to work with the perfection of the craftsmen.

The Weight of Blue

The Outofstock team had handstitched these ’amorphous’ fabric moulds in their hotel room in Bavaria

The Weight of Blue

The result of blowing glass into the amorphous mould

What was the most important lesson you took away from this trip?

WC: Definitely this whole idea of designing from the workshop. In some ways you could say it’s a very old method. It used to be that before there was technology, designers would go to the workshop and they would work with the craftsmen. But the problem with technology, and the problem with outsourcing to China and other manufacturing locations is that you have this distance, this disconnect. So for us, to go [to Bavaria] with a black slate and start sketching is really refreshing. There is this raw energy in the work that one can see.

The Weight of Blue

Another experiment – wood embalmed in glass

You’ve also come out with a publication about the project, called The Weight of Blue. Why did you decide to produce such a book?

WC: We really wanted to document the process. It was literally six days in the workshop and five months to tell the story! We took about 5 months to write this. The fact is that a lot of the explorations we have done here are not really for retail purposes, and we realised that what we are doing is more about communicating a certain message. That is why the publication is extremely important. The exhibition can run for a week, but the book can be timeless.

Check out the video of the making process.

The Weight of Blue collection is being sold as a limited edition (in a set of 6 vases to show the full spectrum of colours). The other objects are currently not for sale.

The exhibition will next be exhibited at Clear Edition & Gallery in Tokyo, from 25 October – 9 November 2013.


The Workshop Gallery

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