Strong and sensitive. Re-cover studies the limits of Finnish glass. Interview with Saara Renvall.
Saara Renvall, Tell a bit about your newest project? what inspired you to make it?
Re-cover is a collection of glass objects that are placed within or
hanging from one another. Each piece consists of an element that
serves as a socket or a pod to other elements attached to it. Contrary
to the conventional glass design, the joints are purely mechanical
with a strong visual identity. The aim is to join sensitive and
fragile material – glass – using standard hardware store items. The
glass elements are hand blown with traditional methods, whereas the
joints are made of threaded brass rods, bolts and rubber washers.
I had the initial idea for Re-cover more than 10 years ago. Saara Renvall
For a while, I have wanted to work with glass. The process of blowing
glass is really fascinating, and the material itself is strong and
sensitive, and very different to the materials I usually work with. I
had the initial idea for Re-cover more than 10 years ago, and I
thought about it every now and then. It took me a while to make it to
the glass blowing studio and start playing with the concept.
Re-cover started as a study of nesting forms. I wanted to create two
elements that would be laying within each other. I basically started
to explore and idea where one element would contain other forms.
Finnish glass design and artefacts are known through the classics
like the Aalto vase, Mariskooli bowls, Toikka’s birds and Kivi-
tealight holders. Very practical and obviously also made some time
ago. How do you find the future of Finnish glass? Could Re-Cover
change how we see Finnish glass design since it’s an elegant project
but at the same time there is an edgy roughness in its materials?
The history of Finnish glass design is rich, for sure. I hope my
project will be part of continuing the tradition, possibly creating
new openings and discussion around glass.
I guess it comes
natural to me to test methods that are somewhat unorthodox. Saara Renvall
As my background is outside of the glass industry, I guess it comes
natural to me to test methods that are somewhat unorthodox. In this
case, the new thinking is in making visible something that is normally
hidden (the joint).
I totally fell in love with the process and methods of blowing glass.
In fact, the whole process is so capturing and enchanting that I find
it hard to create artworks that are more interesting than the process
How was it like to work with the glass blowers in Nuutajärvi? and
did the end result execute the way you foresaw it?
Working with glassblowers Manuel Diemer and Alge Julija was just great
and very humbling. Normally, I control the process myself and do most
things with my own hands. This time, I was basically a bystander and
an audience. I learned so much just watching the artisans at work.
I had two session in Nuutajärvi: first we produced the prototypes and
then the final pieces. The project kept changing throughout the
process. Once I started to understand how things work and got to feel
and touch the prototypes, everything started to evolve: colors
combinations, forms, masses, thicknesses of materials and the
combination of everything.
At the moment your works are on show in Galerie l’elac in
Switzerland. Where would you love to see your works shown next?
The exhibition in Galerie l’elac, called U-JOINTS, investigates
products through their joints. I am happy to be part of it and have my
work presented next to great designs and designers from around the
It would be lovely to introduce the whole collection of Re-cover in an
art gallery or other contemporary venue in Helsinki. My all-time
favorite exhibition venue and a constant source of inspiration is the
Finnish National Museum. Having my work presented there, in dialogue
with the history, would be quite something.