2014 design san francisco | alison berger glassworks

alison berger has been described as:

‘an artist whose medium is light and whose material is glass.’

she is an artist.  and, a craftsman.  she studied glassblowing at the rhode island school of design (RISD), where she apprenticed with dale chihuly.  chihuly’s work in blown glass is considered fine art.

dale chihuly | dusky sky chandelier

chihuly | halcyon gallery | 5 dec 2011-21 apr 2012 | london, united kingdom

photo credit halcyon gallery

click here to read my previous post about dale chihuly.

at RISD, she also apprenticed with chihuly protigee, james carpenter.  now, carpenter develops glass and material technologies to explore light as an architectural medium.

 james carpenter design associates (jcda) | podium light wall | 7 world trade center | new york, NY

photo credit jcda

alison berger is also an architect.  she earned a BFA in architecture from RISD.  and, an MFA in architecture from columbia university.  she practiced architecture with bausman-gill in new york.  and then, with frank o. gehry in los angeles.

frank o. gehry | preliminary sketches | panama puente de vida museo | panama city, panama

frank o. gehry | panama puente de vida museo | panama city, panama | opening 22 may 2014

photo credits (c) frank o. gehry and victoria murillo

she is also a designer.  she designs lighting,


alison berger | pistil pendant light

alison berger | crystal sphere pendant light

photo credits holly hunt and plug lighting

and objects.

alison berger for hermes | the balance line tabletop collection

photo credit alison berger

site specific installations or commissions,


alison berger | installation | crystal vessels in large glass cages | comme des garcons store | tokyo, japan

alison berger | commission | rain chandelier | dining room | actor jennifer aniston’s home | beverly hills, CA

photo credits alison berger and alison berger

and now, furniture.

alison berger | tables of the trade | sculptor’s pedestal table

photo credit alison berger

i had the pleasure of attending spirits in glass, a private reception and presentation by alison berger, hosted by the kneedler|fauchere showroom during design san francisco 2014.  her presentation was energetic and funny.  she grew up in dallas, studied and worked in new york, and lives in los angeles.  no wonder:

‘her manner combines the expansive friendliness of a native texan,

the energy and intellectual intensity of an erstwhile new yorker,

and the mellow openness of [an] angeleno…’

 -joyce lovelace | american craft magazine | february/march 2009

her style is simple and refined, just like her work.  as an architect, she considered every building as a vessel for light.  as an artist, she considers the structure of every vessel.  her defined creative process is curatorial, artistic, and architectural.  she researches.  she sketches, draws, and paints.  she makes collages.


alison berger | form study 2

alison berger | bell tower chandelier

photo credits holly hunt | alison berger book-volume 2 and alison berger

she drafts plans, sections, and elevations.  and, she builds models.



alison berger | section | lantern pendant light

alison berger | lantern pendant light

photo credits david lauridsen

i start with a planned section and an elevation.  but, soon the molten glass takes over…’

-alison berger

berger began working full time as a glass artist in 1995.  she works from her design studio in west hollywood, CA.

alison berger in her light filled design studio | west hollywood, CA

photo credit dave lauridsen

and, from her workshop in compton, CA.

alison berger in her workshop with master gaffer, jesus garcia | compton CA

photo credit holly hunt | alison berger book-volume 1

each piece of glass is hand blown, annealed, and then hand finished by berger’s production team, using hand tools and traditional glass blowing techniques.  the process is time consuming, and physical.  each piece is blown from 12-15 pounds of unleaded crystal, which is finer than glass because it contains fewer chemical impurities.  manipulating the copper/sand/silver ratio in the crystal adds a yellow glow, which adds depth, reflective, and timeless qualities.

‘i love it when people don’t know whether my pieces are old or new.’

-alison berger

many of her pieces contain veiled historical references.  her pieces can be inspired by art, antiquities, scientific documents and instruments, or even, flea market finds.

curiosity cabinet | alison berger’s studio | west hollywood, CA

photo credit joshua white

during the creative process, she alters the scale and removes the decoration, which reduces an inspirational object to it’s essence.

‘i like my forms to be so simple they knock people off their feet.’

-alison berger

and then, she reinterprets the object in glass, a material that contains fire and light.

‘glass captures the process of remembering.  and, as the light fades, forgetting.

light is the medium, glass is the material and memory,

elusive as it is, [that] is my theme.’

-alison berger

crystal water bottles.  inspired by alchemy and baroque still life paintings.

willem claesz | still life with a gilt cup | 1635 | rijksmuseum | amsterdam, netherlands

alison berger for blackman cruz | crystal water bottles

photo credits rijksmuseum and david lauridsen

the roman ring floor lamp.  inspired by a roman cup.

inscribed cup | mold blown glass | roman | ad 1-50 | the getty villa | malibu, CA

alison berger | roman ring floor lamp

photo credits the j. paul getty museum and holly hunt

the word pendant light.  inspired by leonardo da vinci’s scientific and theoretical texts.


leonardo da vinci | study of the effect of light on a profile head | galleria degli uffuzi | florence, italy

alison berger | word pendant

photo credits leonardoda-vinci.org and holly hunt

the lens sconce and lens chandelier.  inspired by a 19th century earring, found at a flea market.

19th century earring, found at a flea market

alison berger | lens sconce

alison berger | lens chandelier

photo credits alison berger, holly hunt, and holly hunt

she recently launched a furniture collection called tables of the trade.  the collection currently includes a carpenter’s bench, a jeweler’s table, a writer’s console, a sculptor’s table, and a painter’s table.  the design for the painter’s table was inspired by a photograph of the studio of italian still life artist, giorgio morandi (1890-1964).  the drafting table in morandi’s studio is covered with butcher paper.  berger abstracted the circular tracing patterns, worn into the paper, and then carved the abstract patterns into the top of the painter’s table.


giorgio morandi’s art studio | casa di morandi | bologna, italy

detail | butcher paper on the drafting table in giorgio morandi’s art studio | casa di morandi | bologna, italy

alison berger | painter’s table

photo credits artstudioshare.blogspot.com, holly hunt|tables of the trade brochure, and holly hunt|tables of the trade brochure

the next piece in the tables of the trade collection will be an astronomer’s table.  the bronze table will have a map of the constellations carved into the top.  but, instead of referencing historical documents, the map is imaginary.

other new products, planned to launch during 2014, include:

the cage pendant light.  inspired by an antique surveyor’s cage.  with an open weave basket form.

the time chandelier.  inspired by the passage of time and clock mechanisms.  with gears, weights, and counter weights, candles, and electrified pendants.

the bow chandelier.  based on a bowstring.  with flattened pendants, suspended from an expandable system of interlocking arcs.

the moon pendant light.  inspired by the phases of the moon.  with moon flask shaped pendants, which look full from the front and back, but thin from the sides.

‘the power of lighting is staggering.’

-alison berger

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