For more than a century, the best master glassmakers and artists have met at the Fornace (Kiln) founded by Paolo Venini, giving life to a story of excellence and innovation that started in Italy but later spread all over the world.
The brand opened its stores in Venice, in Piazzetta Leoncini, and in Paris.
The first series designed by Vittorio Zecchin was presented at the Salon d’Automne and at the XIII Biennale in Venice with a chandelier placed in the vestibule of the Central Pavilion. The collection was also exhibited at the Trade Fair in Milan.
VENINI received the Grande Medaglia d’oro “L’Esposizione Internazionale delle Arti Decorative” in Monza, which was to become the Triennale of Milan. The shapes and colours of the glass pieces exhibited on this occasion marked a breaking point and a revolution for the world of glassmaking. The brand opened its store in via Montenapoleone in Milan.
VENINI won the national contest launched by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the supply of “cristallerie” (glassware) destined to all the Italian embassies abroad. The pieces, called Ambasciata, are still produced today for the Italian offices abroad.
At the Exposition internationale des Arts Décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris, the entrance hall of the Italian Pavilion featured Alberelli (small glass trees) in glass with curls and fruits designed by Zecchin. The same year, the brand won the Grand Prix with a 30-light lampshade with curly decorations, which were the first lighting devices ever exhibited.
The partnership with Cappellin came to an end and, among the brand’s many exhibitions and participations in the Biennale, Paolo Venini founded “Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Venini & C.” with Napoleone Martinuzzi, director of the Glass Museum in Murano since 1922.
VENINI participated in the III Biennale D’Arte in Rome.
At the XV Biennale d’Arte in Venice, VENINI presented a large glass fountain and chandelier designed by Napoleone Martinuzzi, of which Gabriele D’Annunzio would say: “be the design more splendid than the glass … the beauty of your vases so light that it truly seems to breathe in the soul”.
Thanks to the consolidated friendship with the poet, Martinuzzi created brightly coloured fruits upon commission – Canestri mounted on lighting columns and chandeliers for the Vittoriale degli Italiani.
The brand opened its store in via Condotti in Rome.
The III Biennale delle Arti Decorative in Monza hosted the works of the Milanese group “Il Labirinto”, composed by Tommaso Buzzi, Pietro Chiesa, Emilio Lancia, Michele Marelli, Gio Ponti, Paolo Venini and Countess Carla Visconti di Mondrona. The intent was that of promoting the diffusion of modern decorative arts. In the same year, Paolo Venini introduced himself in a personal exhibition at the Museé des Arts Décoratifs in Geneva.
Martinuzzi brought an extraordinary novelty to the world of the Fornace: the “pulegoso” glass, a type of glass that encloses thousands of air bubbles.
This innovation was followed by a number of monumental works, which had never been created in glass, such as the large fountain for the Quadriennale in Rome and the famous statue of Josephine Baker for the Hotel Excelsior in the Lido di Venezia.
The first humorous glass animals by Napoleone Martinuzzi made their appearance by winning the Grand Prix at the Esposicion Internacional de Arte Moderno in Barcelona.
Accompanying them, in full resonance with Nature, were sophisticated glass pieces shaped like succulent plants and the works of art called Acquari di vetro.
The collaboration with Martinuzzi came to an end and the partnership with Tommaso Buzzi and Carlo Scarpa began.
While Buzzi made opaque glass pieces in the complex colours of Alba (Dawn), Alga (Algae), Laguna (Lagoon) and Tramonto (Sunset), VENINI’s lighting departments started to grow with the project for Palazzo della Borsa in Milan (the city’s stock market building), the Torre della Rivoluzione tower in Brescia with architect Marcello Piacentini, the Banca Popolare di Milano, the building of the Corporation Ministry, and the motorship Conte di Savoia in Genoa with architect Pulitzer.
That same year, VENINI presented the work La Mano di Atlante by Tomaso Buzzi, made with the mosaic technique, which is still preserved in the VENINI Museum, together with other rare and precious works.
At the same time, VENINI created the lighting for Palazzo della Borsa in Milan.
At the V Triennale in Milan and at the exhibition “Vetro Italiano e Porcellana Tedesca” (Italian Glass and German Porcelain) at the Landesgewerbe Museum in Stuttgart, Venini presented Vasi, a collection consisting of vases impressed with leaf-shaped reliefs, vases shaped like animals in milk-white and silver, vases in reticella, transparent vases and other vases in colours composed with gold leaf, in the colours of Alba, Alga, Laguna and Tramonto. They are the star pieces created by Buzzi for the V Triennale in Milan and the exhibition “Vetro Italiano e Porcellana Tedesca” (Italian Glass and German Porcelain), at the Landesgewerbe Museum in Stuttgart.
VENINI welcomed Carlo Scarpa, who created the first Sommersi vases.
Diamante by Paolo Venini and the glassworks by Carlo Scarpa were presented at the XIX Biennale d’Arte in Venice. Soon, they were also exhibited in the Mostra della Nuova Torino, the Garden Exhibition in Florence, and the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. VENINI’s art also put its signature on the Croff store in Milan, the American Bar in Venice, and the Palazzo Reale in Bolzano.
The fountain designed by architects Montuori and Aschieri became the star piece of the Quadriennale in Rome and was awarded the Grand Prix at the Exposition Internationale Artisanne in Brussels.
The fruitful collaboration with Carlo Scarpa continued as he designed the series Murrine Opache Romane and Corrosi.
VENINI arrived at the XX Biennale D’Arte in Venice and at the VI Triennale in Milan, where it obtained the Gran Premio with its new glassworks: Diamante. On this occasion, Paolo Venini met the ceramist Tyra Lundgren, whom he invited to Murano. In collaboration with architect Pulitzer, the brand prepared a project for Palazzo del Conte di Savoia.
VENINI obtained the honorary diploma at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Venini’s glassworks were exhibited in Berlin at the International Exhibition on 19th century and Contemporary art.
VENINI’s first exhibition in Scandinavia, at the Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm.
Paolo Venini exhibited Scarpa’s new glassworks, which are heavy, worked with the grinding wheel, and decorated with figurative and abstract etchings. The engraver is master Piano. Paolo Venini participated in the first Artek exhibition in Helsinki, curated by Alvar Aalto’s first wife, Aino.
Carlo Scarpa’s vases in ‘woven’ glass made their first appearance. In the meantime, Paolo Venini participated in the Quadriennale in Rome and was present with a personal exhibition at the Nordiska Kompaniet in Stockholm.
There was a great change in the production: Carlo Scarpa and Paolo Venini presented the new techniques of beaten, woven, granular and new murrine glass at the Biennale in Venice and at the Triennale in Milan. Carlo Scarpa and Tyra Lundgren’s collections were exhibited at the VII Triennale in Milan, where they obtained the Gran Premio, and at the Grassi Museum in Leipzig.
During the war, Paolo Venini combined his artistic production with the series production of lamps and bottles. The company VENINI won the contest launched among glass factories in Murano to create a Centrotavola (Centerpiece) for the University of Padua. The different faculties were represented by glass animals designed by Carlo Scarpa.
The collaboration with Gio Ponti started. Between ’46 and ’50, Ponti also designed the bottles Crinoline and Morandiane.
In Milan, the brand signed a project for the Grand Hotel de Milan.
Fulvio Bianconi designed the masks of Commedia dell’Arte, the group of Musici and the Grotteschi. For the first time, the large obelisks and columns were made in massive ground glass.
At the XXIV Biennale d’Arte in Venice, VENINI also presented the Fenici vases and the Serpi by Tyra Lundgren.
Fulvio Bianconi and Paolo Venini designed groups of vases in Zanfirico.
The famous Fazzoletto was born, an image in glass of a skirt moving in the wind. The design is by artist Fulvio Bianconi.
In Milan, at the Galleria del Naviglio, Venini presented Bianconi’s glassworks: the Pezzati.
VENINI’s fame continued to grow, so much so that more and more avant-garde designers and architects joined the brand for new collaborations: Eugene Barman, Ken Scott, Banfi, Belgiojoso, Peressuti, Licata, Fornasetti, Tissot and Rogers. At the same time, the production of large-scale lighting installations in many cities in Italy and abroad continued.
Frank Llyod Wright visited VENINI, accompanied by Carlo Scarpa, Mario de Luigi and Oscar Stornov.
Historical exhibition at the XXVI Biennale in Venice:
VENINI presented a review of its recent production and its new triple zanfirici.
The brand’s presence escalated: in Munich at the Neue Sammlung Museum; in New York at Georg Jensen together with Orrefors; in Stockholm at the Nordiska Kompaniet; and in Toronto with a personal exhibition at Eeton. Personal exhibition at the Museé des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.
Painter Riccardo Licata joined the Fornace and designed new murrina canes to be applied to vases, cups, and dishes.
VENINI presented itself in various personal exhibitions in London at Liberty’s, at Illums Bolighus in Copenhagen, at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, and at Artek in Helsinki.
Franco Albini designed a series of lamps with linear shapes and opalino glass.
The collaboration with Massimo Vignelli began with the series of lamps 4000, which was awarded the Compasso d’oro at the Triennale di Milano. Piero Fornasetti and his creativity arrived in Venini.
New great lighting projects for the Hotel Continental in Rome; the Olivetti Corporation of America on a design by the firm B.B.P.R., the Fulda theatre in Germany on a design by Ludovico Diaz de Santillana, and the roofing above the courtyard at Palazzo Grassi in Venice with ballotton spheres, called Velario.
Incisi by Paolo Venini, coloured glass composed and crafted with the grinding wheel.
The collaboration with American designer Lyn Tissot yielded obelisks and objects in colourless glass with zanfirico spiral, which would be then exhibited at Bonniers in New York.
Massimo Vignelli was awarded the Compasso d’Oro at the XXVIII Biennale d’Arte in Venice for his Funghi, lamps in bands of tessuto (woven) glass. The same location exhibited Paolo Venini’s Incisi and Gio Ponti’s Morandiane bottles in two-coloured canes.
VENINI produced the large multi-coloured glass windows for Architect Oscar Stonorov to complete the offices of UAW – United Automobile Workers – Building in Detroit.
The allure of the Fornace seduced Frank Lloyd Wright for the second time.
The XI Triennale in Milan brought a new Medaglia d’oro with the travelling exhibition organized by Jensen in Minneapolis at the Walker Art Center, at the Columbia Museum of Art, and in Long Beach at the Municipal Art Centre.
New important lighting solutions for the Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, for Palazzo Cartiere Burgo in Turin, and for the Casino at Lido di Venezia.
The collaboration with Tobia Scarpa began.
Paolo Venini and Ignazio Gardella invented the polyhedrons. These glassworks were presented as a large lighting installation with modular polyhedrons shaped like a cascade for the Turin EXPO in 1961.
Paolo Venini left the world of glass and our world. Ludovico Diaz de Santillana became responsible for the future manufacturing choices of the company as well as for the most important architecture lighting projects, holding the position until 1985.
Thomas Stearns, a weaver from Philadelphia, was captured by the magic of the Fornace: this would be the first of a long line of American collaborations.
A large retrospective of Paolo Venini’s work was hosted at the XII Triennale in Milan.
In its December issue, Domus published an article in memory of Paolo Venini. During the XXX Biennale in Venice, VENINI presented the series Battuti by Tobia Scarpa and two glass windows in coloured strips of murrine glass.
The modular drop-shaped glassworks were used for the first time in a lighting project according to a design by Vico Magistretti and Marco Zanuso for the Hotel Excelsior in Lido di Venezia.
Thomas Stearns, a weaver from Philadelphia, arrived at the Fornace. The first of a long line of American collaborations.
At the Turin Expo Italia ‘61, Carlo Scarpa created a large-scale lighting installation with modular polyhedrons in a free-fall composition, which became the symbol of Italian glassmaking art.
The series Christofle by Massimo Vignelli was born. Glassworks etched by Venini and Christofle silver. VENINI created the lighting project for the Intercontinental Hotel in Frankfurt.
The production of Toni Zuccheri’s Bestiario was launched, together with the glassworks Stracciati, Scolpiti, Crepuscoli, Giade and Grovigli, with the assistance of Master glassmaker Mario “Grasso”.
The XXXII Biennale d’Arte in Venice hosted, among other objects, the first Bestiario, Toni Zuccheri’s Crepuscoli, and a glass window by Gio Ponti. Ponti and Toni Zuccheri designed the Vetrate Grosse, large blocks of coloured glass windows fixed inside iron frames, for churches and buildings.
Tapio Wirkkala launched his collaboration with VENINI studying such Murano techniques as incalmo and filigrana and producing historical works like Bolle, the most famous, and Gondolieri Coreani, Lapponi, Pianissimo, Calici, Colletti.
Tronchi, Ninfee, Scolpiti, Bastoniby Toni Zuccheri and Tapio Wirkkala’s Gondolieri Coreani, Lapponi, Pianissimo, Bolle, Calici, Colletti became the stars of the XXXIII Biennale d’Arte in Venice and the XIV Triennale delle Arti Decorative in Milan.
The Excelsior project in Lido di Venezia was created in collaboration with Lucio Fontana and Ignazio Gardella.
Carlo Scarpa and Mario de Luigi designed a glass window for the Italian Pavilion at the Montreal Expo.
The first young American glassmaking artists arrived at the Fornace to practice their skills. Among them were Dale Chihuly, who would remain with the company for two years for an internship, and Dick Marquis.
VENINI designed the ceiling lighting project for the Terme Excelsior in Montecatini with multi-coloured glass cubes and also designed the lighting for the New Orleans Hospitality Room in New York.
Richard Marquis came to VENINI to study glass: he would become one of the main exponents of the murrine glassmaking technique.
Even now if you look at the ceiling in the hall of the Mandarin Hotel in Singapore, you can admire the extraordinary chandelier weighing 25 tons with transparent glass blocks assembled on a steel structure and transfixed by light and water. The project was designed by Don Ashton.
VENINI created the lighting for the Swiss Credit Bank and the Wall Street Branch in New York.
A terrible fire destroyed the VENINI offices in the month of October. Almost all samples and prototypes ended up in ashes.
That same year, a new collaboration with two Swedish artists, Ove Thorssèn and Birgitta Karlsson, began.
Dan Dailey joined the company to practice the art of glassmaking. The new lighting of The World Trade Center in NYC was created by VENINI, according to the design of architect Yamasaki. The lighting in the Intercontinental Hotel in Riyadh is just as magnificent.
New lights for the Schloss Theater in Fulda, Germany, with architect Weber, as well as for the foyer of the Moulin Rouge in Paris and the Al Hada Sheraton Hotel in Taif.
Laura de Santillana designed dishes in murrine for the exhibition “New glass ‘79” held at the Corning Museum. Her creations won the Grand Prix. Toni Zuccheri designed the new Anatre and Fischioni in ground glass. New light for the “Fourrures George V” in Paris.
VENINI created the lighting for the Royal Diwan in Taif and the Royal Palace in Damman, Saudi Arabia.
The traveling exhibitions organized by the Smithsonian Institutions (SITES) began: the first opened in September at the Renwichk Gallery in Washington.
In those same days, VENINI participated in the large exhibition on glass in Palazzo Grassi in Venice, “Murano Vetri Oggi”.
Massimo Vignelli designed VENINI’s new graphic image. The exhibition “Smithsonian” opened at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Montreal. Laura de Santillana designed the vase Biro. VENINI created the lighting for the new TV headquarters in Riyadh and for the Hotel Pavillon in Miami. Halogen lamps were presented at Euroluce.
The Casino de la Vallée a Saint Vincent, the Gulf International Bank (Bahrein) and the Al-Jhsaa Hotel (Hofuf Sj) lighted up with VENINI.
Large lighting design project for the Royal Palace in Algar. Presentation of “Cielo” (Sky): Magistretti, Deganello, de Martini, within the framework of the research carried out with Francesco Binfarè. New lamps by Cini Boeri.
VENINI was acquired by the families Gardini and Ferruzzi. In those years, the creation of new works went hand in hand with re-editions of iconic pieces that had reaped enormous success, also in numbered editions. Moreover, VENINI’s talent was solicited to light up prestigious buildings and locations worldwide.
The beginning of projects with international artists and designers, including: Alessandro Mendini with Acco, Simira, Dor, Arado, Berito. With important refurbishing operations at the company headquarters in Murano. New lamps by Maria Cristina Cini Boeri, Bruno Gecchelin, Christian Spaltestein.
Timo Sarpaneva designed the new Aaya, Tuuli and Vire with the incalmo technique.
Fulvio Bianconi’s great return to VENINI. He designed the vase Ritagli with an innovative technique and le Fasce sommerse. Marco Zanini created Micel, Simeon, Giulian, Milion, Marin. Ettore Sottsass created the lamps Giocosa, Formosa, Gloriosa.
The Museum für Kunsthandwerk in Frankfurt inaugurated the exhibition “Tapio Wirkkala-Venini”.
VENINI created the lighting for the Hotel City Hilton in Munich, Germany.
The decade opened with the entry of new artists, architects and designers.
Among these, the most unforgettable are Ettore Sottsass, Emanuel Babled, Gae Aulenti, Paolo Deganello, Vico Magistretti, Alessandro Mendini, Mario Bellini, Paolo Portoghesi, Cini Boeri, Bruno Gecchellin, and Marco Zanini. Each of them left a mark in this company.
VENINI lighted up the offices of the Bank of Italy in Rome, Milan, and Naples. The collection Galassia by Alessandro Mendini was presented at Euroluce together with the collection I sogni Infranti by Mario Bellini.
After years of absence, VENINI came back to the Biennale in Venice with an important sculpture in glass and metal made by Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu: Il Cavallo di Leonardo. As if to toast for the event, Alessandro Mendini’s glasswork Bicchieri (Glasses) was presented.
The collaboration with Gae Aulenti began with the design of Torto e Ritorto and Geacolor. Rodolfo Dordoni created the vases Magi.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of VENINI’s activity, the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice hosted an exhibition that outlined the entire history of the company.
Even fashion reached the halls of the Fornace: fashion designer Gianni Versace personally designed a collection for Venini, V.V.V. (Vetri Versace Venini).
In January, the company Società Venini S.p.A. was acquired by the Royal Scandinavia group, which also owned other prestigious brands, such as: Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen Orrefors – Kosta Boda, Boda Nova.
The company was purchased by Italian Luxury Industries, the Italian group owned by entrepreneurs Giancarlo and Gabriella Chimento and Giuliano and Guglielmo Tabacchi.
The new ownership embraced the ideal that has always fed the corporate identity: design skill, innovation, experimentation and research.
The “Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain” presented the exhibition “Fragilisme di Alessandro Mendini”. The work chosen as the symbol of the event was the sculpture Guerrier de Verre, designed by Alessandro Mendini for VENINI and produced in a limited edition of 36 pieces. A work that was also produced in a version with gold and diamonds.
That same year, Giorgio Vigna, a Milanese architect who also worked in jewellery design, created a collection of sculptures in unique pieces for the Correr Museum in Venice, in an interesting combination of hand-blown glass and precious metals: Fuochi d’Acqua.
The book “Fuoco Sabbia Mani” (Fire Sand Hands) reached the bookstores. It is a photographic story of VENINI’s Fornace with images by Gabriele Basilico and texts by Alda Merini.
The company presented new collections and works in limited editions designed by Giorgio Vigna, Alessandro Mendini, Sandro Chia and Mimmo Rotella.
In the next years, creations multiplied and involved new designers like the brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, who designed a large installation of glass bells exhibited at the Moss Gallery in New York.
VENINI’s 85th anniversary coincided with Carlo Scarpa’s birth centenary. To celebrate, some past editions were relaunched in limited editions. On this occasion, Alessandro Mendini wrote a reflection on the value and meaning of VENINI in the world of art: this would then become the Manifesto of the company.
The Museo Bagatti Valsecchi hosted the Rivivo fountain and floor lamps Fragments designed by the Campana brothers. VENINI participated in the 53rd International Art Exhibition, the Biennale di Venezia entitled “Fare Mondi” (Making Worlds), in the Venice Pavilion. Following the event, the company organized an important auction with Phillips de Pury.
The company’s innovations were pushed to new limits in collaboration with some of the most important names in international design, such as Fabio Novembre, Luca Nichetto, Gaetano Pesce, Matteo Thun, Atelier Oï, Studio Job, Emmanuel Babled, Harri Koskinen, Diego Chilò, Ronan and Erwan Bourroulec, and Leonardo Ranucci.
Among them, Tadao Ando stands out with the famous collection Ando.
Venini celebrated its 90th anniversary with a traveling exhibition project that stopped in several cities around the world: Venice, Milan, Shanghai and New York. In the meantime, the Glass Museum organized an exhibition dedicated to the event.
That same year, VENINI was the first company to be invited to exhibit its works during the inauguration of the SHOMG – Shangai Museum of Glass. And Tadao Ando’s works were presented at Punta della Dogana in Venice with a large-scale event.
The company made its Historical Archive available for a project of annual exhibitions organized by the Giorgio Cini Foundation and by the Pentagram Foundation, at Le stanze del Vetro. In September, the first exhibition was inaugurated. It was entitled “Carlo Scarpa. Venini 1932-1947”.
Christie’s sold Carlo Scarpa’s black and red vase Laccati from 1940 at auction for €241,000.
Launch of the ten-year long project of VENINI exhibitions at Le Stanze Del Vetro in Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore.
The Metropolitan Museum in New York exhibited “Carlo Scarpa. Venini 1932-1947”. Emanuel Babled presented his collection Osmosi at Palazzo Franchetti in Venice
Bulgari presented “Opera Unica” in Abu Dhabi: the bottle was created by the master glassmakers in VENINI’s furnace.
VENINI contributed to the realization of the Ravenna Festival. On the occasion of the last concert directed by Riccardo Muti, the work designed by Alessandro Mendini, Falstaff, was created and given to the Maestro.
The new hotel La Gare in Milan lit up with new lights.
In the same year, VENINI created a large installation with polyhedrons for a private villa in Poland.
The Damiani family announced the acquisition of the majority of shares in VENINI S.p.A.
The new lighting of the famous Adlon Kepinski Hotel in Berlin was signed by VENINI.
Peter Marino, a rebel designer of international fame, visited VENINI and autographed one of his pieces in the new collection Black Belt.
During the Salone del Mobile, VENINI presented the innovative collection designed by Ron Arad, Where are my glasses?, as well as the glassworks designed by Peter Marino. And then came the collection Torcia.
In the month of May, the doors of VENINI’S Fornace opened for the 47th global edition of the GAS (Glass Art Society) Conference, hosted on the island of Murano.
The MAD in Paris inaugurated a retrospective on Gio Ponti: “Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti archi-designer” in 2018.
On May 23rd, in Chicago, the auction house Wright Auction broke the auction record in Murano glassmaking art with La sentinella di Venezia by Thomas Stearns from 1962, sold at $737,000.
The Glass Museum in Murano exhibited the entire collaboration with Mario Bellini and hosted the presentation of the new Torcia collection.
In September, Le Stanze del Vetro inaugurated the exhibition “La vetreria M.V.M. Cappellin e il giovane Carlo Scarpa 1925-31”.
The collaboration with Marc Thorpe began. He designed the collection “Unity”, which was presented in the gallery “Les Ateliers Courbert” in New York.
A heartfelt goodbye to Alessandro Mendini, soul of VENINI since 1988.
To mark the moment, Milan asked for permission to use Angelo Guerriero‘s image for that year’s poster of the Salone del Mobile. During the fair, VENINI presented the new collection of table lamps designed by Hani Rashid and Emmanuel Babled’s Paladini.
In May, Michela Cattai presented Acqua and Contrasto in the Tokyo showroom. In addition to the exhibition for Tapio Wirkkala held at the Glass Museum in Murano, Bellini’s pieces were exhibited in Moscow.
Carlo Cracco chose VENINI for his new bistrot in Milan. In addition, VENINI delivered several other important custom-made projects.
The Venice Glass Week in September included the exhibition “Collettiva Venini” featuring works by authors Emmanuele Babled, Giorgio Vigna, Michela Cattai, Dan Dailey, and Benjamin Moore.
During the same month, Stanze del Vetro on the island of San Giorgio, Venice, dedicated an exhibition to the American artist Thomas Stearns, who worked at the Venini glassworks in the early ‘60s. The exhibition included the famous artwork “La Sentinella di Venezia”.