David Valner of David Valner Studio
David Valner, a Czech Republic glass artist, creates original interior objects that blur the line between artistic expression and functionality. Inspired by nature, everyday reality, history or the artistry of glassmaking, he handcrafts objects with timeless artistic value employing traditional glassmaking technology. With his profound knowledge of the medium, David showcases the inherent beauty of glass while pushing the boundaries of traditional craftsmanship and conceptual forms.
Discussing the history of glassmaking, his design philosophy and love for colours, the designer unveils his remarkable professional journey intertwining craft, culture, and passion into a harmonious blend of creative expression.
Tell us about your background in glassmaking. How did you initially venture into this craft?
My father is a glassblower and founder of a glass manufacturing studio, so I’ve been surrounded by glassmaking since childhood. It didn’t seem unusual or unique to me.
I got more involved in working with glass after being rejected from a high school focused on IT, which, to be honest, was my dream at the age of 14. Glassmaking was my second choice, and it was only upon being accepted into a school focused on glassmaking that I started to take glass craft, art and design more seriously.
I HAVE LEARNT NOT TO BECOME OVERLY ATTACHED TO THE INITIAL DRAFT. BY GRANTING GLASS ITS FREEDOM, IT OFTEN REWARDS ME WITH BETTER RESULTS THAN MY ORIGINAL INTENTIONS.
Share insights into your creative process. Is there a specific approach you follow when creating a collection?
Firstly, I visualise the concept and create various sketches and technical drawings. However, I consider drawings as a preparation for the real creative process that transpires during the production of the first samples in the workshop. The freely drawn sketches help me retain the idea and communicate it effectively to the glassblowers.
Glass, being a dynamic material, often surprises me with the extent to which design modifications are required due to technological factors. As a result, I have learnt not to become overly attached to the initial draft. By granting glass its freedom, it often rewards me with better results than my original intentions.
Your objects are crafted utilising traditional Czechian practices. Can you delve into the history of this methodology and how you’ve infused it within your work?
The history of Czechian glassmaking goes back to the 12th and 13th centuries, only to gain recognition in the 16th century as a coveted commodity known for its superior technology and craftsmanship. Furthermore, the glassmaking industry experienced a boom in the 19th and 20th centuries due to technological advancements.
Czechian glassmaking is not only remarkable for its superior quality but also for the various techniques and processing technologies it offers. I specifically use the free-hand glass shaping technique. Typically used for heavier products, this technique does not utilise wooden moulds and solely relies on the glassmakers‘ tools and skills. Moreover, I follow a narrowly focused local style of my native place, the Bohemian Highlands.
How do you strike a balance between historical glassblowing techniques and contemporary aesthetics to uphold the integrity of the past while creating functional objects that resonate with contemporary tastes?
It’s all about exploring both technological possibilities and the idea itself. The basis of the glassblowing technique has not changed much despite its beginnings dating back to the third century BC, making it an ancient and complex craft. I leverage my extensive knowledge of various technology options and glass techniques, combining them to view glass from fresh perspectives. By applying traditional methods to themes and aesthetic values that resonate with me, I achieve the desired balance.
I SPECIFICALLY USE THE FREE-HAND GLASS SHAPING TECHNIQUE. TYPICALLY USED FOR HEAVIER PRODUCTS, THIS TECHNIQUE DOES NOT UTILISE WOODEN MOULDS AND SOLELY RELIES ON THE GLASSMAKERS‘ TOOLS AND SKILLS.
Your work stands out for its use of colour. Is there a specific reason behind this, or has it always been a natural artistic signature?
Colour did not play a significant role in my work. However, there came a transformative moment when I stopped being afraid of colours and embraced them as my artistic signature style.
This turning point can be attributed to the Fungus collection, where the colour scheme was related to the concept I envisioned for the collection. Under microscopic observations, the world of fungi and mould opens up novel colour combinations. To remain true to the concept, I used this vibrant colour scheme, which I grew fond of.
However, when working on concepts that require moderate colour tones to align with the intended theme, I am open to adjusting my style accordingly.
Nature has become synonymous with your work, which is particularly evident in the Fungus Collection. What specifically inspired you to incorporate elements of nature within this body of work?
In general, nature is a significant source of inspiration for all of us. After all, we are connected to nature, a fact we sometimes overlook. There is no single reason for incorporating natural elements. Perhaps, it's a combination of my visual memory, personal worldview, existing emotional mindset, and more. I design collections quite intuitively, and I usually don’t seek answers regarding the reason behind a specific inspiration.
Do you feel your work is driven by tradition or your sources of inspiration?
It's a combination of both. Traditional craftsmanship is a huge source of inspiration for me, making it difficult to decide whether my work is driven by tradition or my sources of inspiration.
Meet the Founder
A creative talent you’re inspired by
Beyoğlu district, Istanbul, Turkey
Favourite body of work by an artist from the past or present
This changes over time. Today it is I’ve Seen The Future And I’m Not Going, Peter Mcgough, 2019.
What you’d be doing if you weren’t running Valner Studio
There are many jobs that I would be interested in.
Your favourite pastime
Spending time with my son, Mikulas.
Czech Republic’s best-kept secret
City of Olomouc of course.