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Wearable Glass Art: Marina and Susanna Sent

Murano-based sisters Marina and Susanna Sent have reinvented the world of glass accessories, turning them into minimalist and wearable sculptures.

Tacky and kitsch are two adjectives often found in conjunction with the most colourful and extravagant interior design objects, knickknacks and jewellery pieces made in Murano, the island in the Venetian lagoon where glass art already existed in the 7th century. Yet, in the last few years, Murano-based sisters Marina and Susanna Sent have been revolutionising the world of glass accessories from their workshop.

Inspired by the principles of minimalist design, they create glass dresses, corsets and jewellery pieces sold in shops all over the world. Solid black and white glass elements are used to create geometrical necklaces that look like DNA chains; necklaces made with clear hand-blown glass baubles threaded onto a fishing line evoke the magic of the sea, while their dresses and corsets are not armour-like pieces, but, thanks to the flexible glass knitwear-like technique they use to create them, they are fashionably wearable items.

Dazed Digital: What prompted you to start making glass accessories?
Susanna Sent: Our family made glass objects in Murano for generations. Both my sister and I worked in the family business and one day we started playing with glass and made some jewellery pieces for ourselves. Then friends asked us to make some pieces for them as well and customers joined their requests, so our adventure into jewellery began. In the early days we used to buy glass elements and we only assembled them, then we started making the elements by ourselves.   

Dazed Digital: What did the first pieces you designed look like?
Susanna Sent: One of the first pieces we created - immediately bought by the MoMa ( shop in New York - was a necklace made using very classical and Venetian elements such as a crystal pearl with a gold leaf inside, but we threaded the pearls onto transparent fishing line, so that the elements looked as if they were floating in the air. The necklace was immediately successful and it was also a sort of starting point for us. We have worked with the MoMa shop since then and also started selling our pieces to other shops and museums scattered all over the world.

Dazed Digital: You also make dresses and corsets, do you find it difficult to create wearable glass clothes?
Susanna Sent: We did a dress that was exhibited at various museums and we often make random pieces that can be worn. The corset currently showcased in our shop at Ponte San Moisè in Venice was worn for example at the opening of one of our stores. The most difficult thing when you work with glass is being able to balance the weight with the shape.

Dazed Digital: You recently collaborated on a restoration project in Venice, can you tell us more about it?
Susanna Sent: We contributed to the restoration of the statues of the Palazzo Ducale (“Doge’s Palace”) in St Mark’s Square that represent the six virtues. The statues are located on the central balcony of the palace and they would watch upon the Doge when he would go out on the balcony. We contributed to the restoration project by creating a brooch symbolising the statute that represents Fortitude. This statue has a shield in its hands and we decided to take this detail and transform it into a modern object of art.

Dazed Digital: Do you have any plans for future exhibitions and collaborations?
Susanna Sent: We do have a project in our minds at the moment for an exhibition, but it’s still in its early stages. We would definitely like to work with a designer, but we must find the right one for us. There’s so much kitsch out there and that’s definitely not to our taste!