Czech glass design firm Lasvit is creating childhood nightmares from glass
Creeping from the floorboards and peering from the walls, the monsters at the heart of Lasvit’s latest show in Milan stretch and evolve the very idea of fear.
Created by different artists from across the globe, each glass sculpture captures a personal snapshot of fear and unease in a material designed to be both fragile and eternal.
Sixteen designers — included Alessandro Mendini, the Campana Brothers, Fabio Novembre and Daniel Libeskind — collaborated to create the work as part of an installation by Czech glass design company Lasvit at the city’s Teatro Gerolamo. Some evoke classic Japanese or European myths. Others draw inspiration from world leaders and events — and even sex toys.
Conceived by creative design strategist Stephan Hamel and Lasvit founder Leon Jakimič, the project has delivered a diverse family of Glass monsters
Eight of the pieces will be limited editions, Kopecký’s will be a one-off, while others will be more widely available.
“ This collection is truly exceptional, not only on account of the ideas behind it, but also in terms of the craftsmanship. Some of the designs are really challenging for the artisans and the most unique pieces are available only in limited editions ” ………… Leon Jakimič, Lasvit founder
“It is an audiovisual labyrinth that features the most beautiful fake news that mankind has freely created and selected. It can bring the rain or the sun, it can flourish and it can burn. The most interesting monsters of our time can talk through its screens,“ ………. Maxim Velčovský
Visitors to this show will be enchanted not only by the beauty of Lasvit’s finest selection of glassware and lighting collections , but also by the living glamour of the famous Cabaret Prague burlesque dancers who will be performing their Monstrous show
Together, they create a striking combination of burlesque and light.
A new show begins every hour on the stage of the Teatro Gerolamo, which was built for puppet shows, will, for a few days at least, become a safe haven for the Monsters.
Accompanied by Prague Burlesque dancers, a monstrous group of glass creatures conjured by renowned designers premiered at the history-drenched venue of the Milanese Teatro Gerolamo.
Cabarets have always been places where writers, artists, poets, and musicians met. They are a melting pot of all kinds of different ideas and philosophies, of both joy and satire.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better stage to present the collection of these glass-yet-living creatures with such strong stories embedded within them.
Famous theaters – with their atmosphere, grandeur and genius loci – gave birth to the Neve rending Glory collection many years ago.
The designers Jan Plechac and Henry Wielgus sketched the shape of chandeliers from famous concert halls and theaters by rotating their silhouette around its own axis.Their aim was to give anyone a chance to enjoy a piece of history in their own home.
Together with the dancers, Lasvit’s Never Ending Glory lights installation presents a dynamic lighting show.
108 pieces of hand-blown masterpieces decorate the stage and create a glass curtain with an almost magical effect.
The lighting installation is more than five meters high and four meters wide, and the fascinating cluster will play with myriad colors.
In its “sleep mode,” the installation is built from clear and smoke chandeliers, but when they “wake up,” that is when the real show begins.
Each 0f the 108 chandeliers can be turned on and off individually, so there are almost uncountable possibilities of playing with the light.
“ Every culture and individual perceives the concept of “monster” differently,.‘They frighten us, but also open up our minds, reminding us of our own limitations and inner fears. The question of what a monster really is becomes real through these artworks.” ’ ………. Leon Jakimič
The name of the Grand Monster was developed by a play on words – ‘independent’ and ‘pendant.’
The Independant is the first pendant raising from the floor instead of hanging from the ceiling.
It is more than seven meters high with 111 televisions strapped to its body to broadcast “its master’s voice.” Sometimes it’s just a whisper, as if hatching a nefarious plot, while at other times it sends out warnings in human language.
“ It is an audiovisual labyrinth that features the most beautiful fake news that mankind has freely created and selected. It can bring the rain or the sun, it can flourish and it can burn. The most interesting monster of our time can talk through its crystal screens which deliver the crystal-clear truth. What you are going to believe is up to you,“ ……………. Maxim Velčovský
The TV screens are made of fused glass consisting of broken glass bars.
The Breakpoint movie starring Leon Jakimič, a monstrous installation made up of more than one hundred TV screens, and 108 pieces of Never Ending Glory chandeliers on stage all together with the burlesque dancers, give a dynamic lighting show.
The Pack of Monsters looks down at the Independant from the 3rd floor of the history-drenched venue of the Milanese Teatro Gerolamo.
The pieces, made in four of Lasvit’s workshops in the Czech Republic, employed both traditional and groundbreaking techniques including hand-blown, cast, fused and cut glass.
All form the Lasvit Monster collection, which will be updated each year with contributions from new artists
“ This collection is truly exceptional, not only on account of the ideas behind it, but also in terms of the craftsmanship. Some of the designs are really challenging for the artisans and the most unique pieces are available only in limited editions ” …………….Leon Jakimič, President and founder of Lasvit.
The usage of Bohemian glass is symptomatic, because glass as a material is almost as eternal as monsters.
Some of them exist also in the form of miniatures – the travel version – allowing you to pack a bit of monstrosity wherever life may take you.
The theater´s dark corners revealed the beauty of LASVIT’s finest selection of glassware and lighting collections.
The 2018 Lasvit Monster Creations
Cute little colorful rounded little monsters with small feet, eyes, and…tiny sharp teeth designed to kill and crunch their prey without actually eating it.Which makes sense as they have no stomach. BHSD-001, BHSD-002, and BHSD-003 are peculiar scientific discoveries that fit into your palm. But don’t get fooled by their cuteness.
They can creep under your bed when you least expect it.
Baas’ whimsical contribution draws inspiration from an imaginary discovery of fossils of small beasts, with sharp teeth but no stomachs
One minute: that’s how long it takes to create a monster.
“ I don’t recall ever being fearful of monsters as a child, so my design is childishly simple: I started with a doodle but transforming those dark imaginings into Bohemian glass, however, has taken almost two years “ …………. Maarten Baas,
In the Prague of times past, the face of the main “designer“ of the October Revolution used to stare at you from every corner.
“ Lenin was all around us and partly also within us,“ says Velčovský about his childhood.
He grew up in the 70s and 80s, when he lived on Lenin Street nearby Lenin Metro Station, learned about Lenin at school and even read fairytales about the Soviet leader.
Maxim’s Lenin suffers from malignant forms of leftism ……. at first glance, his glass Lenin is a decent portrait of a person – it looks like the same Lenin we used to know from portraits and statues – but both his left limbs are bigger.
Made of fused glass, the monster Lenin shines true in his beloved color – he is red as a five-pointed star.
“ It’s a deformation that is not immediately obvious, but that you figure out later on,‘We were influenced by the idea of building up the socialist camp, and although the idea may be good, the results can be monstrous. It really affected my life and so it has become my personal monster.’” …………….. Maxim Velčovský
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
Born as grey clay statues and transformed into beautiful glass objects, they glow and change colors in the most monstruos way you can imagine.
Their names are inspired by the characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Perhaps to add even more drama? Only their creator knows the answer.
The idea was developed in Daniel Libeskind´s head and materialized directly in his hands, when he sat down at the table in a hotel in Vienna with a bucket of clay and a kitchen knife. I began to sculpt, and four hours later they were there.
To translate the clay monsters into glass, Daniel used a super-sophisticated Bohemian technique invented during socialism. It gives the pieces an unusual luminosity and a colour that changes depending on the light.
Daniel Libeskind added glass chips into a mould, increasing its temperature by a few degrees every day over a few months before cooling it down at a similarly gradual pace.
” As an architect, I always start to design with a drawing, but in this case, I sat down at a table with a bucket of clay and a kitchen knife. And I just began to sculpt.” ……… Daniel Liebskind
‘ It’s not radioactive, but we asked someone from the atomic agency to literally add one drop to the molten glass to create the effect.” …………. Leon Jakimič
The inspiration for this artwork comes from Stanislav Müller’s personal teaching experiences in Japan, as well as his fascination for comic book culture.
The Manabi monsters, members of the Order of Optons, present Sensei – the master, and Gakusei – the follower. They are both born of light to fight the darkness. Sensei, the master of the way of light, can transform his head and, by changing his expression he confuses darkness. His facial expressions are called Naku, Warau, and Okoru.
The nature of these two beings is truly monstrous, based on the principles of the evolution of monsters, as well as on Stanislav Müller’s experiences of 2012-2016, when he was teaching Japanese pupils.
“In my work with glass, I focus very precisely on the preparation phase. I need to know the basic characteristics of the monster itself. I make the most of the optical properties of glass and study the optic fracturing of light of various shapes. The most challenging part of the production is the engraving and grinding at the end of the creative process, the final touches that enable those creatures to be born, glorious in their strange kind of beauty. ” ………..Stanislav Müller
At the beginning of the creative process was Alessandro´s belief that every self-respecting object must contain a bit of monstrosity.
“ It is as if you looked at the world through two different eyeglasses. Using one pair, I see all my objects as normal. Using the other, I see them as monsters “ …………. Mendini
Rombo 1 and Rombo 2 have rhombic form and shape. The catch is that one of them is right side up and the other upside down.
Both vases can be “dressed” into five different glass colors – clear, rose, amber, blue and green. The bits of red and blue glass are applied to the thick and slightly wavy body to delineate the image of two counter-positioned faces.
“The sense of monstrosity is given by the scheme of the face, which doesn’t have the natural curved shape, but has taken on the rigid geometry of a robot figure. Designing monsters means being able to vanquish them.’ His designs are intended to appear kind and friendly. ‘I think all the objects I make are a bit like monsters: it is a kind of creature that arouses special fascination, but in my case, the monster is a good-luck charm. “…………….. Alessandro Mendini
Inspired by da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, with an indiscreet nod to sex toys, this all 28cm object is a ‘little friend of monstrous proportions’
When you have no monster in your life to refer to, you simply can´t make anything scary or fearful.
Therefore, Fabio Novembre´s Toyboy is a beautiful monster – approachable and kind. “A new friend with monstrous proportions, a toy boy to soothe the solitudes of the soul,” says the creator about his gentle “monster.”
Toyboy can play with your mind. From one perspective, you will see the Vitruvian man, a reference to the drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci. You will only see a glass man based on the correlations of ideal human proportions. But look again!
From another perspective, you will see something quite different – something with an erotic twist.
“ Toyboy is built with traditional decorations of Bohemian glass, but in a scale that hints at the world of sex toys,” …………………. Fabio Novembre.
Toyboy is made of clear glass with a different optical structure on each of the five “limbs.” In the smaller version with only one leg, he is called T.B.
Canadian design duo Yabu Pushelberg veered away from a literal interpretation to draw on Japanese folklore.
Not all monsters have to be scary or need to have claws and fangs – that was the first idea behind the Tsukumogami monsters.
The creative duo researched and then found objects described in Japanese folklore – the so-called tsukumogami. The folklore says that if an object serves you 100 years, it will acquire a soul. Material culture becomes infused with soul. This is how Shiin, Uro-Uro, and Jiro-Jiro were born.
The names correspond to the nature of the holder.
“Not only are the words themselves fun and have creepy/curious meanings, but we like the idea that they each personify the object,” ……….. Yabu Pushelberg.
Shiin is the silent one, Uro-uro is the one who would like to roam without noise and Jiro-Jiro watches viewers intently. How can they watch, you say?
“Each glass vessel is subtly transformed with depressions, implying the watchful eyes of each object, giving the impression that the object is the viewer,“ ……….. Yabu Pushelberg
You can see nuances of expressions in their eyes – they are playful, sinister, mischievous, malicious, etc
“ ‘They are sometimes described as vengeful, but also as simply mischievous. Either way, they are an ancient representation infused with the soul of a material culture.‘Maintaining a playfulness, but also a slightly sinister, mischievous undercurrent to each piece was the greatest challenge.’ ……………. Glenn Puschelberg
The project is an important way of showing young, innovative designers the potential of working with glass artisans. But it proved equally enticing for the 96-year-old Czech glass artist René Roubíček, who shaped molten glass by hand at the furnace to create an organic form named ‘The Martian’. ‘
“I just like fun,” says Roubíček candidly – and that’s the secret behind his monster. It isn’t scary or threatening – it’s a friendly and funny being, as surprising and playful as glass itself.
“If it seems to attack, it’s only because of the simple principles by which it lives and moves. How it separates and regroups its bubbles, how it stretches itself and walks. One moment it stretches to a point and raises a tentacle, the next it brightly pops out its eyes,” adds the creator of The Martian.
The unique Martian collection is made of uranium glass. There are only twenty specimens of its kind, and there will never be more. It’s big as a newborn baby, yet it weights barely two kilograms.
The Martian wasn’t created from a render or 3D model: it was born in the forge of the glassworks. “It was born right there in front of the glass melting pot, helped into the world by the glassblower,” Roubíček explains.
Outer Space Monsters – Flix and Flex.
The challenging process of transposing their two-dimensional ideas into three dimensions, and the challenge getting a proper expression of the monster was very difficult, since the form of Flix and Flex, the monsters from outer space created by designers Fernando and Humberto Campana, is crooked and curved.
They are like aliens with a human shape, but they originally came down from space and their surface is their skin. Unlike astronauts, they do not have a protective layer between themselves and the outside environment.
The creatures are not ugly or terrifying – we see more frightening things in daily life. The Outer space monsters might be everywhere. They move around in our brains, but they are also in the streets, in the countryside and in the forgotten corners of the world. Sometimes we are not sure if they are real or just our hallucinations, often becoming an entity in and of themselves.
These unique glass statues are available only as part of a limited edition.
“ Our monsters are like aliens with a human shape inside. They are not ugly or terrifying. We see more horrible things in daily life “’………… Fernando Campana.
Something Underneath by Japanese designer Oki Sato of Nendo, is almost invisible.
It looks as if a leaf of paper or cloth were draped over a menacing shape, ‘playing with the idea of the unknown and the invisible’.
Each piece called for a large single sheet of glass, its week-long cooling process meticulously controlled to reduce the risk of breakage.
‘ It is such a simple idea, yet so sophisticated “………….. Jakimič
Two monsters originating in Persian mythology are a danger to both the living and the dead.
“ The Ghoul is a grave-digging spirit which devours the dead. Jen, on the other hand, is an evil spirit who takes possession of people’s bodies and inhabits them,“ ……… Moritz Waldemeyer
Although their physical glass form is simple and minimalist, almost cute, their eyes are illuminated by the evil spirit inside them. Each eye consists of a matrix of LEDs allowing for simple animations that bring the monster to life.
Their creator wanted to counterbalance their extreme taste for evil and gave them a look inspired by Japanese “kawaii.”
“ Pairing such a monstrous background with our kawaii design felt like bringing the project into perfect balance. In line with the tradition of comic characters, each monster can be redrawn and instantly recognized by a single outline,“ …………………. Moritz Waldemeyer.
Tal Lancman & Maurizio Galante
Who’s Looking at You
Who’s looking at you? The monster in the Mirror! These two sentences contain everything – the idea, the name of the series and the name of the monster. “The idea was spawned by the beloved monster who stares back at us when we look into a mirror,” says the creative duo Galante and Lancman about the idea behind their design.
Their mirror can be scary, but also challenging at the same time. When you look deeper into it, you can occasionally see something you were too afraid to acknowledge before. “To the onlooker, it always reveals some monstrous, hidden, unbearable truths. Equipped with 101 eyes, it reflects a multifaceted reality,” said the duo about their creation.
The monster has an archaic origin. It is covered with obsidian scales in green uranium shade and pale pink, egg-shaped eyes.
Weighing in at about 50 kilograms and with a height of about one meter, it is a true giant.
“ In spite of the monster’s horrific appearance, the unbearable visions he creates grant his audience a perspective on themselves which allows them to battle other monsters better” ………………….. Galante and Lancman
Hanging Monster Mural
Monsters are all around us and we should develop a critical method to detect them. Bad taste, inequality, and the food industry which ever so quickly is becoming the chemical industry – these are three devils which should be eliminated. Stephan Hamel´s monsters are symbols of these evils, but also represent the warriors who fight against them.
“The monstrous attitude that humanity tends to develop should be molded into the statue of a monster in order to remind us of the potential effects of our actions. Monsters are a symbol to save us from our own very worst characteristics,” ………. Stephan Hamel.
Morana doesn’t hide her scary face – after all, she is the embodiment of a soul of a deceased woman that came to Earth to celebrate with her former family the festival of the Dead.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that Martin Janecký conceived this glass masterpiece when he attended the Day of the Dead in Mexico.
“ Día de Los Muertos is a stunning celebration of life and death. The altars are resplendent with color; bright marigolds, each object is symbolic. I couldn´t stop thinking about it, and I was trying new ways to use glass as a material to express what Día de Los Muertos represents for me “ ………… Martin Janecký
He picked his favorite object, the skull, and used its dark aesthetic to express his own feelings towards death.
The sandblasted skull with a dotted cross on its forehead is the centerpiece of a statue garnished with delicate flowers. Macabre yet fascinating, the glass statue stands at a height of one meter, and follows the onlookers with a magnetic, mystical gaze.
Despite Día de Los Muertos commemorating the eternal cycle of death and rebirth, Morana cannot be everywhere at once, and she can materialize herself in glass works only ten times – she is made as part of a limited series.
“ When people enter the door, I want my craft to make them see the dead through my eyes,” ……………….. Martin Janecký
St George & the Dragon
Once upon a time, a man of flesh and bone conquered a monster. The legend has it that St. George slayed a dragon, which created a myth and shaped humankind as much as a story about courage and heroism can. However, the devil´s advocate must still ask: is the saint’s tale a sane tale?
Possibly, the dragon was part real, part George’s chimera which his fear and imagination then magnified into a supernatural monster of unknown strength and intelligence. What did the battle represent?
The final moral of the story rests on a choice verging on the human and the transcendental: could Saint George have won without the bloodshed, could the monster have been mastered to serve and protect the man and his kin? Or was the death of the monster also fatal for the hero himself? Without a posed challenge, whom or what do we fight?
The seemingly fragile statuette of “Saint George and the Dragon“ represents not only tales of heroes and monsters, but all of history.
Originally dating back to ca. 1925, the statue’s story is set after the First World War when Europe was recuperating from the traumas of death and destruction, when restoration of order was slowly mounting.
There was new hope, and the young state of Czechoslovakia quickly became independent, prosperous and progressive, igniting the free Bohemian talents.
Once upon a time, there was a creature that appeared at feasts and made people wild – “Der Tanzlaubenhund” or ”Dancing dog,” as we call him. Sometimes he would remain hidden, but at other times he lets himself be seen…
He is described as a dog who is as tall as a man, with only one eye as big as a plate shining upon his forehead. In his tangible form, he reminds us of another scary creature from our world – the Tasmanian Devil.
The figure of the dog is black. It is made of painted wood, but it´s his “magical” eye that draws one’s attention – the big glass eye stares deep inside you. Under his feet are scattered pieces of colorful glass of mysterious origin.
“ Normally, he lies under a bench and watches people, but sometimes he appears dancing on his hind legs. He can drive you mad, or make you passionate and wild with his evil eye… And so a peaceful feast can turn into a cruel fight or a destructive orgy,“ …………….. Raja Schwahn-Reichmann
Caravan of Monsters
”The first guardian dog has eyes as blackthorns, the second as plums, another as pies, another as plates… and the last one, the one at the gates of Hell, has huge eyes as big as mill-wheels,“ tells Vladimír Kopecký the fairytale about the guardian dogs he used to love as a child.
The last guardian dog was the initial inspiration for his series of monsters. Mill-wheels, big dog eyes, grin, angry dog…“ –Kopecký names some of the associations which ran through his mind.
To materialize his vision, he used the technique which he named back in the 60s – “ugly glass“. The paintings resembling the monster are made by using glass colors and painting with them on glass slabs. The slabs are then baked in the furnace and connected together. The final monster thus gets a spatial dimension.
About Teatro Gerolamo
The Gerolamo was built in 1868 on the site of an earlier theater of the same name, during the post-unification of the center of Milan.
The theatre, all in wood, had two tiers of boxes, the gallery and the stalls, for a total of six hundred seats. It was basically the theater of the marionette of Milan, and also the room where the dialect theater companies performed .
From 1911 the management was entrusted to the company of Carlo Colla , exponent of the famous Milan puppet dynasty , who held it until 1957
In 1958 the management passed to the Piccolo Teatro in Milan , which used the small room especially for the recitals of great actors and singers: Franca Valeri , Lilla Brignone , Tino Buazzelli , Jean-Louis Barrault , Laura Betti , Paolo Poli , Dario Fo and Franca Copper , Ornella Vanoni , Juliette Gréco , Domenico Modugno and Paola Borboni.
In 1962 the recital Milanin Milanon went on stage, which reproposed the traditional Milanese songs chosen by Roberto Leydi , together with the poems of the major dialectal citizens, all directed by Filippo Crivelli . Performers of the show were Milly , Tino Carraro , Enzo Jannacci , Sandra Mantovani and Anna Nogara .
Since 1960, the hall also became the headquarters of the Milanese theater company of Piero Mazzarella and Carlo Colombo and therefore became the main seat of the Milanese dialect theater.
From 1978 to 1983 the theater was directed by Umberto Simonetta , who made it a theater hall on Milan but not in dialect. Among the most successful performances of this period, the comedy Mi wanted Strehler in 1978 with Maurizio Micheli .
The Gerolamo was forced to close in 1983, because it is an all-wood theater, and therefore incompatible with the new safety legislation .
In 2017 the reopening after a long restoration.
Today the Gerolamo has 209 seats
Lasvit is a creative hub of glassmaking talents, fresh ideas, and daring designs.
This young, progressive Czech glassmaking and design company inspires the world with its breathtaking custom-made installations exhibited all over the world, as well as with their unique lighting and glassware collections made from hand-blown glass.
The founder of Lasvit, Leon Jakimič, steers the company with the utmost respect for the Czech glassmaking tradition, but also with a boundless optimism for modern technologies and cutting-edge design.
In past years, Lasvit has attracted many renowned designers and artists who wanted to collaborate with an unconventional Czech company.
In cooperation with Lasvit, many stars such as the Campana Brothers, Kengo Kuma, Yabu Pushelberg, Nendo or Ross Lovegrove, have created some of their most unforgettable glass collections.
Ever since 2007, Lasvit has been on a mission: to bring beauty, happiness, and a piece of the Bohemian soul to clients worldwide, and thus change the world for the better. Let Lasvit in, let the changes begin.